DECEMBER 13, 1947
GENEVA—I've had the pleasure of seeing W. Hallam Tuck, Executive Secretary of the Preparatory Commission of the IRO, and Sir Arthur Rucker, Assistant Secretary. Both of them stressed the need of prompt action by the various countries in accepting displaced persons for settlement within their borders. Both of them hope the United States will lead the way by passing the Stratton Bill at the next session of Congress—not because the number of people allowed to enter the country would be very great but because it would show the other nations of the world that the United States had an understanding of the problem and was willing to do her share.
We have in our midst many groups who came originally from the very same lands which once were the homelands of the people in the DP camps, and it shouldn't be difficult to give the small number that would come to our shores a welcome and a helping hand. The chance to start life again in a free country would, I'm sure, make them do their utmost to succeed.
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By working late, our subgroup in the Human Rights Commission finished on schedule the draft copy of a declaration of rights. Then came the problem of getting the reports of the various working groups written and printed in both French and English, and furnished to such delegates as wished to have them translated into other languages. The White Russian delegate plaintively protested the other day that he'd seen nothing in Russian!
In one of our meetings, we had an interesting discussion as to whether the first article of the declaration of rights should start out with a statement such as, "All men are brothers." The drafting committee had wanted something of this kind said; but in our working group the representative of the USSR remarked that, if the rest of the declaration was as insincere as that statement, it wouldn't be worth a great deal. Some of us had to agree that it might be better to say, "All men should act as brothers," since it didn't seem that the spirit of brotherly love was exactly abroad in the world at present.
To get through the commission's work on schedule is going to require great concentration. I think 7 or 8 o'clock in the evening will frequently see us still in our meeting hall, and in addition, a few of us will have to meet again, at night. We are on hand every morning by 9.30 and never return to the hotel during the day. In spite of this, I haven't yet succeeded in finding time to see the great Assembly Hall, which is right in the building where we spend our days!
Immediately after lunch the other day, I went to address a discussion club of a group which is working in the Economic Commission for Europe. It was a very short meeting, in which I spoke briefly and then answered a few questions. One could go on meeting new people like this practically every day. In each group working here, many different nationalities are represented, but they ask me to speak English and most of them seem to understand it.
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Since I've been here, a great number of appeals have come to me from people who want to be admitted into the United States, and who think that if I just say the word, they will be wafted across the ocean and landed within the United States without further formality.
Some of them even quote the inscription on the Statue of Liberty. And I'm more than ever certain that we must be sure to preserve the traditions which inspired that inscription—we must be a "land of the free" or too many people will cease to believe that there is a place anywhere in the world where freedom and equality of opportunity exist for human beings.