JULY 11, 1956
NEW YORK—Back to New York I went Monday morning, starting very early with two young ladies of 10, my godchild and my grandchild!
We reached New York around 10 o'clock and, after the children got settled, they went to visit the Zoo in the park and then came down to my office at the American Association for the United Nations, from where my secretary there took them on a guided tour of the U.N. Then they joined me at luncheon in the delegates' dining room.
After lunch we went shopping in the U.N. shop, buying flags and various other small gifts for members of their families. We continued on to a bookshop and then to a toy shop, and finally home just as the afternoon storm broke.
I left the young ladies at home and went to see the first of the four movies scheduled for the Selznick Awards. This was a British production and a very fine one. But I found the subject heartbreaking, though no more so than the reality on which it is based.
I remember being in Germany at the end of the war and going over some of the records of the International Refugee Organization in connection with the lost children from countries all over Europe.
Children were searching for their parents and parents were searching for their children, many of whom had been deliberately taken out of their countries of origin. This was done on Hitler's theory that the way to prevent all future opposition to his domination was to move an entire generation into Germany, indoctrinate it there and bring it up as Germans.
Many families who later adopted these children had no idea they were not German. The real tragedy came when a slow search of records finally disclosed an origin of some kind and the original parents could claim a child that sometimes had been so completely alienated from his background that he did not even recognize his native language.
It is safe to say that, in some cases, parents in Germany knew these children were not Germans and took them more or less as working slaves, but this apparently was rather rare. For the most part, many parents, taking the children out of orphanages, had no idea that they were not German orphans and really loved them as their own.
So here is another chapter in the evils of war which touched the children of many countries.
It was not just hunger and cold, being driven from their homes and losing their parents that were cruel, but just as cruel was the fact that they had to change their allegiance twice in the short span, sometimes of a ten-year-old's life.
Movies which deal with such real problems of war are, I think, a good reminder to all of us of the ramifications which, even before the invention of the atom bomb, touched the lives of the innocent as well as the guilty. War was not confined to soldiers, even as far back as World War I.