JANUARY 6, 1948
HYDE PARK, Monday—There is much in the papers these days about the problem of German recovery. Not one of us can afford not to think about this problem seriously. Germany is in the heart of Europe.
After the first World War, we decided that we would prevent Germany from rebuilding as a potential war power, but then some important people began to wonder whether, on the whole, Germany was not less dangerous than Russia and whether we did not need Germany as a bulwark against Russia. So we allowed her to rebuild. Instead of taking a firm stand, for instance, on the German occupation of the Ruhr, we turned our eyes away, partly because our own big business people had an interest in the big business combinations which have branches in almost all of the great countries.
Now it is very evident that a healthy Europe must have in the heart of it—in Germany—a self-supporting and contented people. But that does not mean that the great business magnates of Germany, who transferred their wealth to Switzerland, Spain and the Argentine, must be allowed again, in alliance with other big business men, to build up the kind of German economy which would again lead to war.
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I should like to see the Ruhr internationalized. I think the German owners are getting all they can right now out of those mines. And it is only human that what hidden German assets there are among the rich people will not be used for rehabilitation until those people are quite sure that the United States or Great Britain will not put in the needed money for them.
If they know that there is no chance of using their great power in the same way they have used it before, and if they see that our assistance is going to build up the little people of Germany and not the big ones, I think that in their own interests they will find ways of investing their money not only to benefit themselves but for the good of other Germans as well.
Internationalizing the Ruhr is not popular, but I have been wondering why this region could not be put under the United Nations. Then the U.N. could call upon such help as they needed from whatever nations had it to offer.
The little people of Europe need help desperately and are having a hard time, but there are still people in all European countries who have assets. They can and should be drawn into the recovery program so that their abilities, which have been used in the past for the benefit of some particular big business group, can now benefit the whole people of their countries.
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I want to thank the hundreds of people who were good enough to send me Christmas cards. It would be impossible, with my very small staff, to write each one a personal letter, and so I hope that each one will take these few words as a personal expression of my gratitude for their kind thought.