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

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NEW HAVEN, Conn.—We are, of course, deeply concerned by the encircling of Berlin by Communist troops, both Russian and East German. This move on the part of the Soviets is in opposition to all agreements entered into by all the occupying powers, and both Britain and France will back up the American protest.

The belief is that this is one of the first moves on the part of the Soviet Union to show that Premier Khrushchev has decided that he must conclude a separate peace treaty with East Germany. He has hoped, of course, that the West would join in a peace treaty recognizing the status quo of Eastern Europe. But the heavy flow of refugees into West Berlin has probably led him to believe that something had to be done, and done immediately.

The resentment caused by the prohibition that has kept so many people from going to their jobs in West Berlin may have been unexpected, or Khrushchev may have decided that this was inevitable and he might better face it at once.

This sealing off of West Berlin has created a difficult problem for the West, but it is one that the West almost inevitably had to face. And we can be pretty sure there will be complete unity among the Western nations in meeting the situation. For that reason we are in a far better position to face the Soviets than we will be when the United Nations meets on August 21 to seek a solution to the dispute between France and Tunisia on Bizerte.

The question of whether to uphold France or Tunisia is a thorny one. Quite evidently, Tunisian President Habib Bourguiba, who has been one of the most reasonable of African leaders, felt that he could not stand out against the pressure of other African leaders unless he took this step to expel the French from Bizerte.

There is an agreement between France and Tunisia that Bizerte would in time be evacuated. However, no real timetable had been set up and it was easy for President Bourguiba's friends to say that he was being gullible in believing in any vague French promises. President de Gaulle probably meant to simply protect French nationals and the garrison at Bizerte when he ordered French troops to move in. But, instead of a minimum of casualties, the French soldiers evidently went wild and killed a thousand Tunisians. This, of course, led to the African-Asian bloc's demand for a special session of the U.N. General Assembly, which is scheduled for next Monday.

It is to be hoped that whatever is the U.N. decision that France will accept it with maturity. If the decision should be adverse and France should react with shortsighted resentment and perhaps withdraw from the U.N., the result might be far-reaching and frightening to contemplate.

If every nation withdrew its membership when it objected to some action taken in its sphere of interest by the U.N. there would very soon be no United Nations.

Europe at the moment seems to be causing the greatest anxiety and giving the greatest opportunity for wise and temperate leadership. If the leadership should bog down, we might easily see some action taken in either of these situations—Berlin or Bizerte—which would be highly regrettable for many years to come.

The New York City school situation has moved Gov. Nelson A. Rockefeller to bring the state legislature back into special session on August 23 to consider the whole issue, but he has not as yet indicated what he would like to have done.

But from the state capital reliable sources say that the administration plans, among other things, to strip the mayor's office of its unrestricted powers to appoint members of the Board of Education. Now, since the Board of Education is a city body dealing only with New York City's needs, it would seem to me unwise and unworthy to put responsibility anywhere except with the mayor.

Granted that the present mayor may not have been careful enough in his supervision, I wonder how much more careful he or anyone else would be if no responsibility were given. I do not see how anyone but the mayor can satisfactorily carry this responsibility.


(Copyright, 1961, by United Feature Syndicate, Inc.)

Names and Terms Mentioned or Referenced

  • New Haven (Conn., United States) [ index ]

About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, August 16, 1961

Roosevelt, Eleanor, 1884-1962
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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.