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My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

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NEW YORK, Thursday—Yesterday afternoon a few guests came into my apartment in the late afternoon and among them was a young woman from California who could not keep her eyes from the view of Washington Square, with the brightly lit Christmas tree in front of the arch and the snow on the ground. It is a lovely sight at night and if you come from a part of the world where snow seldom falls, a storm such as we had yesterday is a fascinating sight.

There were a number of newspapermen among our guests and one question they wanted to talk about was the French stand on the Ruhr. There is a very understandable feeling among high government officials in France, and undoubtedly among the people as well, that anything which tends to build up Germany's strength creates insecurity for the people of France.

It is easy to understand their fears, for after World War I the French felt that German strength was built up by Great Britain and the United States.

They are under the impression that the United States and Great Britain were moved by the same motives as lies behind their plans today. Great Britain may have felt that a strong Germany was less of a peril to the peace of Europe than an unopposed Communist state end, on the commercial side also, it seemed more advantageous to do business with Germany. France feels that the United States also is moved by the desire of doing business, and that naturally we are not so much concerned about the war menace because our country lies across the ocean.

Germany is, of course, destroyed to a far greater extent today. It will take longer to rebuild the country than it did the first time. And, there is no question in my mind that there are people in Germany and forces outside of Germany related to the old Nazi regime who would like nothing better than to repeat the pattern of the old days no matter how long it might take.

The younger generation was fairly well indoctrinated by the Nazi Their faith, however, has been shaken in the past few years and I think we have a chance if we use every means at our disposal to put German youth in touch with democracy outside of their own country. We must teach great numbers of them the advantages of democracy.

It is quite understandable why our government officials want to build up the German economy to a point where it can be self-supporting. The cost of supporting Germany is very high, and the American people should not be asked to pay more than is absolutely essential to their safety in the future.

We all know now, however, that a war costs us infinitely more than any kind of expenditures that we can possibly incur in building for a peaceful world. Faced with paying out large sums of money to keep the German people from starvation it seems entirely understandable, nevertheless, that government officials want to put the German economy on a healthy basis.

To the French, however, the repetition of any situation that might bring back a menace such as they lived with before World War II is a cause for grave anxiety. I think it should be a cause for anxiety for us as well.

One of our difficulties is to think both on the immediate basis and on the long-range basis. The fact that the French are sending over a representative to talk over their economic situation means that they also will talk over their future security.

I hope that the people of this country will think of this whole question of the final decision of control in the Ruhr from the point of view not only of making Germany self-supporting in the shortest period of time, but from the point of view of how far we can do this and still prevent Germany becoming a war menace.

There are many other angles that enter into this discussion, but the main thing to keep in mind is the prevention of another war.

E. R.


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About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, December 17, 1948

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.