DECEMBER 29, 1953
HYDE PARK, Monday—It was wonderful driving up the parkway on Thursday but difficult to realize that it was Christmas Eve. There were not many cars on the road and no snow! I don't think there are as many decorations on the houses which you pass as I have seen in previous years but perhaps that is hard to gauge until dark because trees that may have lights do not show up until the dark comes.
I noticed for the first time the other day a lovely creche at one of the doors of the church on 60th Street and Park Avenue and I was interested to see a young man walk up and stand in front of it for a long time. I could not help thinking that there might be many lonely people in the city whose only touch with Christmas would be something of this type.
It seems sad that the final appeal to the G.I.'s in the prison camps who do not wish to return to the United States was greeted with such hostility by them. I read with care the list of names, which also gave their addresses, and for most of them the time when they were taken prisoner. Curiously enough, nearly all of them were born between 1930 and 1933.
They come from all over the United States and they were taken prisoner either in late 1950 or 1951 which means that they have been under indoctrination for at least two years, quite a long time to work on young people! I would say they had been carefully chosen so as to actually reach into all parts of the United States.
There is an interesting story, I am sure, if someone could study the homes of these youngsters, their backgrounds and their beliefs. It might teach us a great deal about what makes communism seem to some people better than democracy, so I hope it will be done. As they are freed it would be enormously interesting to watch where they go, what they do. If they go into the Soviet Union or into Communist China it will be impossible to know what happens to them.
But if they are indoctrinated in order to be infiltrated into the United States at some later time, we may meet up with them again. It is the influence under which they fall at that time and the situations they find themselves facing that will be important for their future and perhaps for ours.
I met for a short time with a group of international students, among whom were some Americans from the University of Minnesota, Thursday morning. They had notified me some time ago that they would come to see the library but somehow it had slipped my mind that I was supposed to meet them there. They telephoned and I got over in time to greet them and let them ask some questions.
The questions in many cases were asked by American students, which I thought was unfortunate, and yet I think these must have been enlightening questions for the foreign students to hear. One young American asked me why after World War II we disarmed so quickly when we knew Stalin was a dictator and therefore dangerous. I had to remind him of the difference in the climate at that period and tell him that the government could do nothing but stop rationing and reduce our armed forces. The people of this country wanted only one thing and that was the return of peacetime conditions as quickly as possible. It is not surprising that many young people do not remember the difference in climate between '45 and '54, but sometimes it surprises me that older people do not remember.