The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers, Digital Edition > My Day
My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

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LOS ANGELES —A great many people have been very much troubled of late about the rumors circulated in this country that youngsters under the age of 18 who had taken part in the uprising against the Communist authorities in Hungary were being held in prison until they reached the age of 18, at which age they could be tried and put to death under present laws.

So far as I know, it has not been said in this country that such action has taken place—only that it might be done. And the protests emanating from here were in the hope of preventing such action. Apparently in Europe it has been said that executions had already taken place, because there is an official denial, made in Vienna, that has been published in one of our newspapers by the Hungarian Foreign Ministry. This denial characterizes what has been said in Europe as "these lies which obviously serve the objects of the cold war."

Let us hope that this really means that the present government of Hungary intends to let all young offenders go free. And if this is so, the Hungarian government will have earned a measure of far greater confidence than it has had, but it should let the world know of its action.

A great many people in this country are still sympathetic toward the Baltic states—Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia—which years ago were deprived of their freedom and incorporated into the Soviet Union.

The Soviets would have us believe that the majority of the people in these countries accepted the loss of their freedom with gratitude, but there are in our country many people who remember that these states were forcibly incorporated into the Soviet Union. They remember vividly that there was no vote taken under any foreign auspices or in any way that could have given the people a chance to vote freely.

When this was done, in 1940, I can recall that my husband and I both felt that it was a very sad thing. But by the time the Yalta meeting was held Russia felt so strongly that these states were part of her mainland that it was not possible even to consider them in the same way as the Iron Curtain countries along the western border were discussed.

The natives of these Baltic states, who are in the United States, have an undying hope that the day will come when their native lands are again free.

Of course, it would be difficult to persuade the Soviet Union that it would be in a stronger and safer position if it were to grant freedom to these countries. It would be hard to convince the Russians that these countries would then owe them such a debt of gratitude that there would be a friendly tie that probably never could be broken.

In this world, however, most of us are motivated by fear—governments more, perhaps, even than individuals—and, therefore, such action by the government of the Soviet Union seems a very remote possibility. But the hope still lives in the hearts of those who are in America and who can remember with such deep affection and devotion the countries of their birth.

Perhaps someday there will be such security in the world that any area that wishes freedom will be allowed its freedom. If we can achieve such a state, the movement of people everywhere will be without any interference, since humanity will really have learned the meaning of brotherhood.

E. R.

(Copyright, 1960, by United Feature Syndicate, Inc.)

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About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, February 10, 1960

Roosevelt, Eleanor, 1884-1962
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Digital edition created by The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project The George Washington University 312 Academic Building 2100 Foxhall Road, NW Washington, DC 20007

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Transcription created from a photocopy of a UFS wire copy of a My Day column instance archived at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library.