SEPTEMBER 7, 1950
HYDE PARK, Wednesday—Yesterday afternoon I went to the Library to greet a group of German teachers brought over here for a year's work in our universities. They have only been in America for a short time and that time has been spent in New York City.
During the time I spent with them they asked many questions, some of which, I think, are of great interest to us all. In particular one teacher said "You seem less conscious here of the far reaching meaning of the Korean War than we are in Germany. To us it is of daily, vital interest, and I don't feel that interest among the people of the United States to whom I have talked."
This does not seem to be an idea that has occurred solely to this German teacher because I noticed in one of our metropolitan newspapers an article referring to a similar impression. One reason for such an impression is that before the United States is awakened and aware of a situation the conflagration has to be a very big conflagration, and thank goodness the war in Korea has not yet reached those proportions.
However, it is incumbent upon us, as Americans, to realize that the war in Korea is a symbol. It is a symbol of the relative strength of the Communist and democratic states. If the combined forces of the United Nations eventually show that they have the organization and power to localize and bring to an end this particular group of aggressors, in spite of the strong backing which they are receiving from Communist nations, then nations all over the world will feel strengthened. Perhaps this explains why the German people of the West are watching the Korean situation with so much interest.
When I mentioned that it was possible some people might be apprehensive if military strength were rebuilt in Germany, and that German leaders might well be found allying themselves with the Russians instead of with the democracies, there was marked disagreement. I added that Germany might feel that they know how to handle the Russians, and that this time they would use them instead of being used by them. To this remark there was a violent shaking of heads, and I had a feeling that none of them felt there would be a tendency in Western Germany to join with the Russians.
One young teacher did say that unless East Germany and West Germany came together there could never be a settlement of the country's economic problems. I am sure that if one had been able to continue our discussions for a longer period one would have found many interesting points of view.
Just before I left one young woman hazarded a remark of interest. She said that perhaps we ought to let the aggressor nations move out into the world and try to take over other nations. She was sure they would find that impossible, and that they would merely be absorbed into the nations they tried to take over. When I pointed out that this was not exactly the experience of Czechoslovakia and one or two other similar nations she did not deny it, but said these nations were so small that they were not good sponges.
I felt that she was indulging in wishful thinking which is something we are all apt to do at the present time, but one of the things we must avoid doing as wishful thinking leads us nowhere.