My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

Text Size: Small Text Normal Text Large Text Larger Text

NEW YORK, Sunday—I have a postcard communication which reads: "Please let your readers know if you are still Honorary Chairman of the American Committee for Yugoslav Relief which is supplying radar to aid the Yugoslav children?"

I am still Honorary Chairman of Yugoslav Relief, which supplies medical aid and extra food not available in Yugoslavia in sufficient quantities—such as dried milk for Yugoslav children and women. It is a new idea to me, however, that radar is being used as a commodity for children! A radio report, I am told, stated that this committee was supplying radar equipment. But the committee promptly denied it—and I am inclined to believe it would be extremely difficult for any committee, which naturally has to submit to a certain amount of government inspection, to send anything out at this time without the proper permission.

It has also been suggested to me at various times that one should not be interested in shipments of any kind to Yugoslavia. I do not agree with this. The present economic condition in Yugoslavia has certainly been made more acute by that country's participation in the war against Germany. The Yugoslavs fought very effectively, and at a time when the Allies needed their help. This kept a good many German troops busy, which was of great importance to the Allied cause.

Yugoslavia was occupied and devastated. The situation there was complicated by the fact that certain forces within the country disliked and feared the partisans and their leader, Marshall Tito, even more than they feared the Germans, and there were instances when one group of people killed another group within their own country. This took on the aspects at times of a division on both racial and religious lines, and as a result it led to bitter feeling which even today involves both racial and religious groups.

When feelings of this kind are stirred up, it takes a long time to reunite a whole country. But women and children, who suffer most because of war, are entitled to our help in recognition of the fact that the partisans under Tito did not collaborate with the Germans, and did render the Allies great service.

It seems important to me to remember that, whether we like the political aspects of governments in other countries or not, we should respect those countries if the governments genuinely represent the will of the peoples concerned. It might be well to recall that there was a time when our government in the United States was not looked upon with much favor by the well-established and conservative countries of the world of the 1700's.

Moreover, refusal to render aid to other nations which will keep their people alive and help them reestablish themselves on a healthy economic basis, seems to me a very short-sighted policy. One of the hopes for peace in the future is that we can divorce political beliefs from economic cooperation. I think we have a right to resent deeply any interference in our own country, either by infiltration or by open denunciation, where it touches internal affairs and the expression of our own people's will. On the other hand, we must not use our power as a strong nation to interfere with the will of other peoples, even when we do not like their form of government.

E. R.
TMs, AERP, FDRL