FEBRUARY 3, 1945
NEW YORK, Friday—Yesterday afternoon I had a chance to talk for a few minutes with Clarence Pickett, of the American Friends Service Committee, who is just back from England and France. Somehow, the Friends seem to get closer to the people than the average visitor who lands on foreign shores. Traditionally they have gone to help, and so those who need help gravitate to them naturally.
Mr. Pickett told me what I already knew must be true—that the people of Great Britain are tired. Materials with which they clothe themselves are shoddy materials. Their food is uninteresting. It preserves life but gives little energy. Their rest has been a broken rest for a long time. Their shelter has been uncertain.
Mr. Pickett's picture of France is not that of someone who recently reported that in Paris the children seen playing in the parks looked strong and healthy and well cared for. He has seen the areas which we have had to destroy; and whether your home is destroyed in order to liberate you, or in order to enslave you, the fact that it is destroyed is first and foremost in your thoughts. The children whom he saw were hungry, and in the south of France he reported that 50 percent of the children have tuberculosis. That would fill our hearts with terror if it were true in our own country in any one locality. The children are the hope of the future, for in many cases their fathers will come back from enforced labor and prison camps broken in health and in spirit.
What problems these countries face, and how patient we should be of any shortcomings which show up in their attitudes! I am hoping very much that, when the war is over, the liberators who have had to bring destruction will adopt some of these destroyed villages and towns and try to rebuild and start the people off again on a self-supporting basis.
After the last war, the people of the United States did this, and I hope they will do it again. We must not neglect what needs to be done in our own country—and, believe me, there is plenty to do—but what we do outside of our country will bring us a rich reward, I think, in the future.
Miss Thompson and I came up to New York City last night, and it is remarkable what work one can accomplish in four hours on a train with no telephone and no visitors to distract one. Many things which I have wanted to dictate for weeks past were done last evening, and I am counting on doing a great many more during the few days here without official engagements.
Today the executive secretary of the International Council of Nurses is coming to lunch with me. This afternoon, after doing a recording, I shall see a number of people and then have a quiet evening for work.