MARCH 17, 1941
MIAMI, Sunday—We are leaving Miami today on our way back to Washington. I am anxious to have a few hours in Charleston, S.C., to go with my friend, Mrs. George Huntington, to see some of the gardens there. I have never been able to be in South Carolina when the gardens are in bloom, so I hope I shall be fortunate to find them at their best today.
In the meantime, I want to tell you about the visit of Countess Alexandra Tolstoy. You will remember I told you she came to see me at my apartment in New York City. She is no longer very young, but she climbed my three flights of stairs with less puffing than most of us. Her interest in her mission was so great, that I think she scarcely gave a thought to her own exertions. She wanted me to know about the Tolstoy Foundation. Its aims are:
1. To preserve and advance the finest traditions of Russian science, art and religion.
2. To assist the Russians living in countries outside of the U.S.S.R., by providing material aid for their support, medical care and other needs.
3. To coordinate, as far as possible, the activities serving these same purposes.
There are Russian refugees here and in many countries in Europe. Their situation in France, where there are about 150,000 of them, is very difficult, for they are opposed to both Communism and Nazism. These Russian refugees come from so many different backgrounds that it is hard in some cases to decide to just what groups they do belong.
On the whole, whether they were once of the nobility, of the intellectual world, or political liberals of their particular time, today has really become an academic question. They are human beings in great need and Countess Tolstoy said the Tolstoy Foundation not only wanted to continue to send all possible aid to those abroad, but also wanted to establish a Russian center in this country. They hope to buy a farm where old people can stay indefinitely and where new arrivals can be temporarily housed. She, herself, has lived on a farm in this country and made it pay, a record of which few of us can boast.
I do not know of any more practical plan to meet the situation than she described. The officers and directors of the foundation seem to give promise of good, sound advice. Countess Tolstoy, by her own enthusiasm and devotion, inspires you with a desire to be helpful to this group of harassed human beings.