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My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

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HYDE PARK, Thursday—Yesterday I wrote about one of the points raised in Secretary of State Stettinius' recent speech, and today I would like to continue with a discussion of the Polish issue.

It is evident that the Yalta agreement, as far as Poland is concerned, became difficult to carry out and the much-to-be-desired creation of a new government was not accomplished. Poland has a right to freedom. But it is evident, too, that Russia, in return for her valiant fighting, has a right to feel that her European doorway is safe. That being the case, the type of government which exists in Poland and the boundaries which are finally agreed upon will be of greater concern to Russia than to any of the other Allies. Some compromise will have to be reached. It is not yet clear what can or should be done, but I think it is good that Secretary Stettinius spoke out and did not treat these subjects as something which the people of this country were not concerned with.

All thoughtful people agree that Russia, Great Britain and ourselves must cooperate in peace as we have cooperated in war, if the world is to have peace. Therefore, I like very much the plain speaking on the part of our Secretary of State, which emphasized for all of us the fact that machinery cannot make peace. Only the good will of peoples and their leaders can develop understanding and create an atmosphere in which peace can exist.

* * *

We might as well frankly face the fact that in this country there are many people who do not like the British empire. Sometimes this feeling may be a carry-over from old world backgrounds; sometimes it is still our Revolutionary War; sometimes it is a sense of inferiority, which makes us insist on our superiority and look down on anything which differs from our own habits and customs.

Fundamentally, however, I think it is most often the type of dislike which exists in families now and then. The various members will call each other names, but they do not like it when outsiders do it. I do not think there is any real fear in this country of war between the English-speaking nations of the world.

* * *

Our feeling toward Russia, however, is different. She is an unknown quantity. Her strength is not yet measured. The fact that she has done in some 25 years what the rest of Europe has taken several hundred years to do gives many a sense of insecurity. We know how rapidly her people have become literate. We know their fanaticism in defense of their form of government and of the leaders who have turned medieval conditions into a modern industrial civilization. We often do not understand that such rapid development means uneven development. I am told that throughout Russia you often hear the phrase, "It will be better." That is a sign that they know their full accomplishment is not yet achieved. Something great has happened, nevertheless. We, in this country, do not quite understand it as yet, and there lies one of the reasons for our uncertainty.

With both Great Britain and Russia, however, we must decide that peace is worth the effort we must make in order to understand and like each other, and that effort must extend to all other countries as well.

E. R.


Names and Terms Mentioned or Referenced

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

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, June 1, 1945

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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MEP edition publlished on June 30, 2008.

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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.