DECEMBER 15, 1951
PARIS, Friday—The President of the General Assembly, Dr. Padilla Nervo gave a beautiful reception at the Palais Chaillot last week, and for the first time we saw the fountains in full play and lighted up. It was a most beautiful sight and one which we probably will not often see, since the expense is great and the occasions rather few that merit such a display.
The Guarde Republicaine guided us through the always confusing passages to the Salle des Aigles where President and Madame Nervo and Secretary-General and Mrs. Trygve Lie stood to receive us.
My granddaughter and her husband went with me and we were impressed by the size of the military orchestra that was seated in the first room where the buffet tables were spread. Later we returned and listened to them play for a while and I thanked the conductor. It was such a fine orchestra that it seemed a pity we could not spend more time just listening to it.
There were many interesting people there, however, whom one wanted to chat with for a few moments. I was particularly interested to meet a young Indian who is his country's ambassador to a number of African states. He is quite taken up by a very interesting experiment that is going on in the building of a social system in Africa, where peoples of different backgrounds and customs are learning to live together in mutual understanding.
Perhaps this may be an object lesson that will spread not only to other parts of Africa but into other parts of the civilized world. I am anxious to learn more about the achievements that seem to have fired this young man's imagination.
The experience of serving in the United Nations is one which one longs to have spread among many people because here you meet the cultivated people of 60 nations. You realize that it is mostly opportunity that is lacking in many areas of the world and nothing inherent in any race that holds men back. Color, sex and race seem to have nothing to do with the possible developments of the minds and hearts and souls of human beings.
In the Paris edition of a recent New York Herald Tribune there was an article by Don Cook, written from Bonn, on legal versus moral guilt in Germany, and I must say it makes one squirm.
Legally, these people who committed crimes under the Nazi regime—horrible and cruel as they were—did so in obedience to law. Their Nazi masters told them what to do and they did it. Now they must be judged innocent and go free to practice their professions and live normal lives.
The decision is based on American and British common law, which says that if a man is carrying out a law he cannot be punished for carrying out that law. But I am wondering if there were not people who went to their deaths because they would not carry out these laws. I wish we knew something about them and could do them a little honor.
Legally, it may be right for these people to go free, no matter how cruel their crimes, but honor should go to those who refused to obey such laws and obeyed higher laws of love and mercy and the dictates of their own conscience.