DECEMBER 15, 1947
GENEVA—An interesting incident occurred the other night while I was greeting some young people at the end of a students' meeting here. A young German girl came up to me and said: "You were asked tonight about reeducation for democracy in Germany. I wish you would stress that the best thing that can happen is for young people to leave Germany to study in the United States. I came to Geneva five years ago. I had no idea what it was to be outside Germany. It took me quite a while to realize what had been holding me in bondage, narrowing my mind and my point of view. We are poor—we can't go unless we have scholarships. But I am sure that if the young people of Germany could study in the great free democratic countries, there would be a complete change in the German mentality."
This was most interesting, coming from a girl who must, of course, have had some anti-Nazi background and who, like so many young people in Germany, had evidently been very well imbued through the Hitler youth movement and the Hitler youth spirit. Perhaps we should try before long to have a greater exchange of students than we have had in the past not only from the Allied countries but from our enemy countries. There might be some fear that they would contaminate our youth. But somehow I feel that our youth are quite capable of standing up for their own beliefs, and the investment might save us from expending billions of dollars again in the future for destruction.
For three days this week we've kept our word and worked until seven o'clock. The declaration is slowly taking shape, though I think the implementation group has already finished and the convention is also going to be finished shortly. We'll have something which in substance will give the various countries some real material to comment on. I find that many people do not realize how long it may take for ratification of any convention by a number of states. Nevertheless I think it is evident as we work that there won't be time for a number of conventions on a number of subjects, since it is almost impossible to spell out all the contingencies that seem to occur to various people when they take up any subject—such as the rights of women, for instance, in the field of employment, whether as industrial or professional workers. By consideration of their status as married women and as mothers before the law, there seem to be an endless number of details which only conventions can possibly reduce finally to a basis which will change the situation of women the world over.
I called on an elderly lady a few days ago who wrote to me because her mother had lived for 30 years with Mrs. Franklin Delano Roosevelt and she had known my mother-in-law and my husband's aunt, Mrs. Forbes, when they were really young women. This world is a small place after all!