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

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Hyde Park, Friday—At 5:00 o'clock this morning our telephone rang and it was the President in Washington to tell me the sad news that Germany had invaded Poland and that her planes were bombing Polish cities. He told me that Hitler was about to address the Reichstag, so we turned on the radio and listened until 6:00 o'clock.

Curiously enough, I had received a letter on my return last evening from a German friend who roomed with me in school in England. In this letter she said that when hate was rampant in the world, it was easy to believe harm of any nation, that she knew all the nations believed things that were not true about Germany, did not understand her position, and therefore hated her. She begged that we try to see Germany's point of view and not to judge her harshly.

As I listened to Hitlers' speech, this letter kept returning to my mind. How can you feel kindly toward a man who tells you that German minorities have been brutally treated, first in Czechoslovakia and then in Danzig, but that never can Germany be accused of being unfair to a minority? I have seen evidence with my own eyes of what this same man has done to people belonging to a minority group—not only Jews, but Christians, who have long been German citizens.

Can one help but question his integrity? His knowledge of history seems somewhat sketchy too, for, after all, Poland possessed Danzig many years prior to the time that it ever belonged to Germany. And how can you say that you do not intend to make war on women and children and then send planes to bomb cities?

No, I feel no bitterness against the German people. I am deeply sorry for them, as I am for the people of all other European nations facing this horrible crisis. But for the man who has taken this responsibility upon his shoulders I can feel little pity. It is hard to see how he can sleep at night and think of the people in many nations whom he may send to their deaths.

I can hardly believe that I actually met the steamer "George Washington" yesterday morning, saw my mother-in-law and Johnny and Anne leave the boat and, with Mrs. John M. Franklin, who had been a passenger and who wanted to go to Newport News, Va., for the christening of the "S. S. America", took off at 9:15 in a plane for Newport News. We reached there in ample time and the ceremonies went off without a hitch. I read a letter from the President to Admiral Land, for I represented him. I held my breath when Mr. Ferguson, president of the shipbuilding company, announced that at 11:49 the first whistle would blow and that one minute later a second whistle would start the ship down the ways. Everything happened on schedule and in spite of my usual anxiety I broke the bottle without any difficulty, so the "America" began her career under auspicious circumstances.

I spent an hour and a half in Washington with my husband and reached Hyde Park again at 7:45 for dinner with my guests. Quite a full day.



Names and Terms Mentioned or Referenced

  • Hyde Park (Dutchess County, N.Y., United States) [ index ]

About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, September 2, 1939

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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Digital edition published 2008, 2017 by
The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project

Available under licence from the Estate of Anna Eleanor Roosevelt.

Published with permission from the Estate of Anna Eleanor Roosevelt.

MEP edition publlished on June 30, 2008.

TEI-P5 edition published on April 28, 2017.

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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.