My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

Text Size: Small Text Normal Text Large Text Larger Text

HYDE PARK, Thursday—One of the most cheerful things I have read in a long while is the actual, gradual plan of a United States of Indonesia being formed under Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands. It is the carrying out of the plan which I remember hearing her talk over with my husband when he was President, and it should bring gradual independence and the opportunity to develop self-government to all the peoples of the Indonesian area.

The natives of Borneo are probably the most backward of all the peoples in that area, but as the move is made toward education in civilization and future self-government, all peoples will, I hope, respond.

* * *

I have had a number of letters bitterly complaining that our soldiers in Germany are making the Christmas season bright for German children, while the children of displaced persons, still in camps, were having very little done for them, particularly by our army.

Few people seem to understand that the average soldier in Germany has no contact with displaced people in the camps. Those camps are run by UNRRA personnel, and usually are not places which soldiers are permitted to visit. Our servicemen see displaced people being taken in trains from one point to another or driving through the city of Berlin, but they are herded together and American soldiers have little opportunity to think of them as individuals or even to talk to them. Also, their languages are a barrier; there aren't many of our boys who are familiar with the various languages and dialects of central Europe.

When I was in Berlin, I asked a number of boys if they had ever seen the temporary shelter where Germans coming in were boarded before being sent out again to whatever part of Germany they were assigned to join relatives or to start life anew. It was a former air-raid shelter and, from my point of view, quite a horrible place. Practically every soldier I spoke to had never seen it!

It is a natural thing for our boys to make a happy Christmas for children, especially those youngsters who have very little. I would think less of the families from which our soldiers come and of the boys themselves if they did not try to make this one day joyful for the children living near them. I am sure that every one of them, had he been in contact with children in any displaced persons' camp, would have, irrespective of politics or religion, done something to make their Christmas brighter. Children did not bring on the war, and there should not be any war carried against them now when the world is at peace.

In the broad field of relief I feel that, since there must be priority in what is given people, those who have suffered longest must receive relief first. Naturally, those people are in the occupied countries. If children are not being fed well in the enemy countries, I think there is hardly a person in any country in the world who would not feed them as soon as food is available. And surely at Christmas time we must be glad that our men gave happiness where they saw a child in need of it.

E. R.
TMs, AERP, FDRL