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

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NEW YORK—We were up in Minnesota for the first two days of United Nations WeekSunday and Monday—and for the first time snow is being talked about as though it were just around the corner. At luncheon the president of the Mankato (Minn.) Chapter of the American Association for the United Nations said that, when he found it raining on Sunday night, he just hoped it would not freeze so the road would be icy for driving Monday.

In the papers there is a long story which tells of dozens of deer hunters isolated in southeastern Idaho Sunday night after an unexpectedly heavy snowfall the day before. The hunting season has begun in this area and you can see people out with their guns for birds and deer.

The weather as we experienced it, however, on Monday was beautiful and mild and the drive from Rochester, Minn., to Mankato was lovely, though the foliage has fallen to a great extent. In Rochester, we were delighted to find that the big Mayo Clinic auditorium was filled for the U.N. meeting in the evening, and there is evidently a great deal of interest in the organization. The world situation is making a great many people, I think, both young and old, turn to the United Nations in the hope that they will find there some feeling of security.

We met first in Rochester with some 85 college students who came from four different states in the area. They asked about the difficulties of electing a new secretary-general, the admission to the U.N. of Communist China, and the never-ending question: What can we as students do to help solve world problems?

In some miraculous way Mrs. Howard Gray managed to give all 85 students refreshments in the recreation room in her basement and at the same time to give us a nice, quiet lunch with her in the dining room. Such organization and such calm are remarkable when one knows that there are very few people these days who have much in the way of household help to carry the burdens of entertaining.

My son Elliott and his wife took two days' holiday and came over to Rochester for the day on Sunday and spent the night with Mrs. Gray.

Dr. Charles Mayo introduced me at the evening meeting in his own inimitable manner with a gentle, sweet and more or less solemn expression as he told a story which set the whole hall off in gales of laughter, even though his only change of expression was a slight wink. He is certainly not the usual platform personality but he does reach the heart of his audience, and in this particular case he gave them a great deal of good, solid entertainment which prepared them for a serious speech on my part.

In Mankato we had a television interview to start with, which lasted a half hour, and during half of it students from various high schools in the neighborhood asked questions. There were a few boys in the group, but the girls by far seemed the most articulate, and all the questions came from them.

After a newspaper conference with the local newspaper people, there was nothing further until the meeting in the evening, after which we drove into Minneapolis, taking a plane early Tuesday morning to New York in order to be there for U.N. Day, or at least a part of it.

There seems to have been an incident between East and West Berlin, brought about by a United States aide who tried to go to the theatre in East Berlin. It would seem that it was unwise for any of our officials to do anything which might bring about such incidents at the present time.

I believe that we must be prepared to discuss not only the question of West Berlin but the whole question of peace in Central Europe, and it seems to me that incidents of this kind only make it more difficult to do so in a calm atmosphere.

On several occasions now I have been asked about the possibility of Berlin becoming an international city in which certain of the U.N. agencies, if not the U.N. itself, could be housed. In many cases it is suggested that corridors be marked off leading from West Berlin into West Germany and that these be considered international territory and be policed by U.N. police.

I am interested to find that there is a consciousness in this part of the country that the West Germans are trying very hard to win the objectives which they consider helpful to the strengthening of their own situation.

I think few of our people realize that today West Germany is again, from the economic standpoint, the strongest country in the whole of Europe, and that she is probably the only one of the European NATO countries who has her contingents of troops up to full strength.

This mere fact stirs some uneasiness in the countries immediately on her borders who remember the days before World War II and see a duplication of those days building up again. They recognize that in positions in government a great many of the people of the old Nazi regime are back in power. And while we seem to have completely forgotten Germany's responsibility in starting World War II, many of these countries who were occupied have not forgotten, and are beginning to be troubled, particularly countries like Poland and Czechoslovakia.

One can well understand their sense of uncertainty, since they know the West as a whole has never accepted the Oder-Neisse line, and never ratified it. This line was set after World War II and gave a certain part of German territory to Poland. In consequence, Poland had been able to build at least a few industrial areas and it is understandable that seeing West Germany rebuild its economic and military power gives them some sense of uncertainty.

West Germany is not yet represented in the U.N., but we can be sure that in negotiations which are carried on there as well as outside, Germany's presence will be keenly felt. And even if she is not mentioned, the influence of what she is will be uppermost in the minds of many of the member states.


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

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About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, October 25, 1961

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.