My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

Text Size: Small Text Normal Text Large Text Larger Text

PARIS, Sunday—I listened to a most interesting lecture the other evening given by a French correspondent who spent four weeks traveling around the United States as our guest with two other French correspondents. He began his talk by saying he had found a new America from that encountered on a visit seven months ago.

At that time, he said, he found everyone apathetic. Korea had not really awakened us to the Soviet danger. But the discovery that the Soviets had the atom bomb had turned the trick—and from an apathetic nation we have become an alert nation, backing the administration's rearmament policy and doing our job both on the military and economic side in a very remarkable way. He thought the great achievement of the Truman administration was that so far, at least, rearmament had been accomplished with very little dislocation of the civilian life of the people.

He went on to point out that in the United States we really had an aristocratic class of laborers for whom our machines were slaves, and this was true of the woman in her home as well as the workers on their jobs. Mass production had advantages. The jobs were sometimes dull and automatic and very few men felt they had created something from beginning to end. But that was another problem which he felt American ingenuity would meet in its own time.

Some of the things he said would have worried a few of our Senators and Congressmen, because he used words the mere sound of which frightens us. Anyone who said on a platform in our country that there is such a thing as pure Communism, which had no relation to Stalinism or the police state set up in Russia, would find many skeptics in his audience, for a good many people do not know what the theory and practice of pure Communism is.

I begin to think that everything cannot be as calm behind the Iron Curtain as the USSR and its satellites would have us believe. They never miss a chance to tell us about the perfections of life in the Soviet Union, and yet in the Herald Tribune a few days ago it appeared that Vice Premier Slansky of Czechoslovakia, who was a former secretary general of the Communist party, had been arrested by the Czechoslovak Communist regime and charged with "anti-state activities" and "leading a conspiracy against the republic." Other top officials have been arrested, so that apparently there is trouble and people are disappearing right and left.

The number of refugees reported as coming in from East Berlin to West Berlin and as crossing the borders from all the other Iron Curtain countries seems to be growing and not diminishing. This must be a great anxiety to the Soviet leaders. If only they would realize what a help it would be to establish normal relations with the outside world and to have trade which would improve peoples' standard of living, then perhaps they would accede or find a formula for verification and inspection of armaments under international control. That would start us on the business of world disarmament and give the people of the world a real hope for peace.

E. R.
TMs, AERP, FDRL