NOVEMBER 26, 1951
PARIS, Sunday—A highlight of the past week was the dinner and reception given Tuesday evening by the President of the French Republic and his wife for the members of the United Nations. It is really a wonderful sight to see the beautiful old Elysee Palace lighted up and two tables for 200 guests representing 60 nations. As one delegate remarked to me, "It is an achievement in itself that we can get together and stay together."
Everyone greeted everyone else in most cordial fashion. I sat next to Edouard Herriot, who looks well despite trouble with one knee. Characteristically, he remarked that in old age one must expect to suffer. He walks with difficulty, but his mind is clear as ever and I remembered how much my husband had enjoyed his meetings with him in the past and in what high regard he held him.
On my other side Mr. Pleven, who heads the government, was an interesting companion. Toward the end of the dinner, however, he was "on pins and needles," for he had to be in the Chamber of Deputies at 10 o'clock to defend the listed items that were to be discussed this coming week in their legislative session. The head of a government here has a hard time because France has no majority party. There are some large parties; but to obtain a majority you have to bring together the members of several groups, and so the leader of the government is constantly talking with these various groups and trying to persuade them to back his program.
Mr. Vishinsky sat directly opposite us on Madame Auriol's left. He was in a very pleasant mood and we talked back and forth across the table. He conversed in French with Madame Auriol quite fluently, though he had a good-looking young man sitting behind him to act as interpreter if needed. For many of our Soviet friends, I think the interpreters are merely a refuge. They speak French and English fluently; but should they by chance want a little extra time to think, they can always use their inability to understand as an excuse and do their extra thinking during the interpreter's translation.
From the windows of the reception rooms, where we were received, we looked out on a lovely sight. French architects know how to use perspective, and at the end of the garden over which we looked there was a little pond lighted up to give us an enchanting view.
I talked with many people from many parts of the world and I enjoyed looking at all the different types of costumes. Even some of the men were picturesquely dressed. Mrs. Warren Austin wore a beautiful gold-colored dress made from a lovely Pakistan sari.
At noon on Wednesday I met Mrs. Eisenhower and a number of French and American women at lunch. Guided by Madame Petsch, whose husband was head of the mint until his death, I had the rare opportunity afterward of spending a few minutes in the building which houses a museum of all the old dies from which the medals and coins of France have been made over the years of France's history. The director of the museum showed us a medal of Washington, of John Paul Jones and of the battle of the Bonhomme Richard and the Serapis. These old molds are made of steel and hand engraved. I wondered why they had not been taken by the Germans, but I was told they are extremely heavy and, of course, not of a material that could be transformed into weapons. I hope to go back for a longer visit, but I was glad of this short glimpse, since France has for many years been in the forefront as far as the designing and making of medals is concerned.