My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

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BANGKOK, Thailand, Sept. 16—At the second session of the World Federation of United Nations Associations meetings here we had a long discussion on the admission to membership of an East German association. No country can have more than one membership. So if the East German group were admitted to full membership that would be a tacit recognition that there are two German nations and up till now politically, that has never been accepted. Discussions, of course, are currently under way on the unification of Germany.

It seems to me that our discussion has no point and yet the executive committee has voted to admit the West German association to full membership and the East German association to associate membership. The theory was that East Germany is a territory. But who are we to decide this?

The only solution that I can see is to be completely realistic and say that these questions can be settled by the government itself, and therefore we must postpone all action on such questions till they can be settled by the ones who can settle them.

The purpose of all associations for the United Nations is twofold—first, to acquaint as many people in our various countries as we can with the value of the United Nations to get them to know its work and that of the specialized agencies and, secondly, to encourage as many people as possible to help in this work wherever it is feasible.

The value of the federation and the annual meeting is for us to get as much information from one another as we can as to how each of us achieves these two purposes. It is valuable, too, for delegates from so many countries to get together and become acquainted.

Madame Pibulsonggram, wife of the Prime Minister, gave a delightful buffet supper for all the delegates last Thursday and invited also many of the diplomatic corps.

It was a gay and festive sight and two musical groups played alternately. One band gave us western music. When the Thai orchestra played it was fascinating to me to see the various instruments, not so very different from the Balinese. Still, I was told that these are Burmese. The singing seemed to me very different from any I had ever heard. They said it told the story of a man seeking his wife, and it was certainly plaintive in parts.

We had about an hour to sightsee in the noon recess and we found a temple open where there was the largest reclining gold Buddha I have ever seen.

The many buildings within the temple walls, with their colored roofs and the gilded and painted carvings, make this a paradise for anyone taking color photographs.

I was particularly interested in the figures in stone guarding each building. Some are grotesque or frightening, others are well over life size, and two that we saw today had coverings on their heads resembling top hats. I longed to find out the exact significance of the headgear but I could get no information, and I think the keeper of the temple grounds wondered what I was talking about.

This is the rainy season here and when it rains it really rains. Sheets of rain were falling during our afternoon session, but the morning was quite clear and beautiful. Nevertheless, it is wise to keep a raincoat close at hand.

E.R.
PNews, NSJ, 17 September 1955