FEBRUARY 10, 1961
NEW YORK —Some things were brought out in the educational TV program which we prepared in Boston last Sunday and which I think should be much more widely known in order that we may better understand some of the difficulties involved in coming to an agreement with the Soviet Union and other nations on a method to detect underground tests.
Rep. Chet Holifield (D., Calif.), chairman of the Joint Congressional Atomic Energy Committee, said, "There are over 100 seismic disturbances in the Soviet Union every year and they are the equivalent of 20 kilotrons or more, and you cannot tell the difference between a 20-kilotron nuclear explosion and a natural seismic earth vibration at the present time."
Congressman Holifield also warned that though we might come to agreement with the Soviet Union to cease testing we had not been able to come to an agreement with France, and there was no assurance whatsoever that Communist China would come to any agreement.
The newspapers on Thursday reported a statement by British Foreign Secretary Lord Home to the effect that the "facts of international life require that Communist China should be seated in the United Nations." Those of us who have been very much interested in the psychological effect of coming to an agreement on curtailment of atomic tests—in order that the public might feel that this was a first step toward disarmament—have also been somewhat disturbed by the very evident fact that before we reach any kind of comprehensive disarmament we must have total membership in the U.N.
Peoples must be bound by the same promises. Some people will say that they want nothing to do with the Communist nations of the world, but probably there are always going to be Communist nations in the world. If we hope for a growing obedience and acceptance of law and a removal of the threat of war, we must strengthen the U.N. and achieve total membership in the world organization.
We know, for instance, that if we were going to detect underground explosions we would have to put the present seismographic instruments on a grid no more than 600 miles apart. Under certain concitions, said Mr. Holifield, we couldn't detect a 20,000-ton bomb, a bomb the size of the Hiroshima bomb.
John Strachey, the Englishman on our program, felt that we should nevertheless try to achieve a ban on nuclear tests.
Prof. Henry Kissinger pointed out that from "twenty kilotrons on up" detection was increasingly reliable, but from 20 kilotrons on down detection was increasingly unreliable. And Mr. Holifield insists that knowledge gained in these smaller bomb explosions could be translated into valuable information to be used in relation to bigger bombs.
There seemed to be an agreement among all those present that the resumption of tests in the atmosphere, from which fall-out is inevitably dangerous, would be unlikely. But Mr. Strachey felt that if no agreement is reached we might find ourselves with a renewal of atmospheric tests which would create great despair in the world.
I would like to tell you a little story, passed on to me by a lady in California, suggesting that we in America should help a little, forgotten village in Italy.
Filletino is the name of the village and it seems to have been mislaid in the busy postwar world. It sheltered many Americans who fought in World War II in Italy and they will surely remember this tiny Italian town.
After September 8, 1945, hundreds of Allied prisoner-escapees from the Fara Sabina camp passed through Filletino on their way to the camp at Monte Casino.
"The generous and warmhearted people unhesitatingly shared the little food they had (potatoes and maize bread) with the escapees, attended their wounds, harbored them in their homes when possible and hid them in their cowsheds and haylofts," my correspondent writes. "They showed them the caves amongst the rocky slopes of the mountains where they could hide in the event of a German search."
The Germans soon discovered what was going on, but they could never find the prisoners. They took it out on being harsher and harsher to the natives, but the people of Filletino never told that they had ever seen an Allied prisoner.
No recompense has ever come to this small town and it is suffering today because it has been forgotten. No help for rehabilitation has been given. One of their own Italian doctors who went there one summer has tried to start a rehabilitation scheme but his money ran out.
My correspondent, Mrs. Morton Rude, 531 West Santa Inez, Hillsboro, California, has written the full story and I think many an American should read it and then perhaps they will find it in their hearts not to let Filletino be forgotten.
(Copyright, 1961, by United Feature Syndicate, Inc.)
About this document
My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, February 10, 1961
- Brick, Christopher (Editor)
- Regenhardt, Christy (Associate Editor)
- Black, Allida M. (Editor)
- Binker, Mary Jo (Associate Editor)
- Alhambra, Christopher C. (Electronic Text Editor)
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