My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

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NEW YORK—Here is how I obtained my interview with Nikita S. Khrushchev, chief of the Community party of the Soviet Union, on my recent trip to Russia.

I asked for the interview the day of my arrival in Moscow, September 3, and my Intourist interpreter seemed to think it quite natural a request. The next day he told me Mr. Khrushchev would like me to submit my questions in writing.

I submitted them with a note explaining why I was anxious to have his interview and why I thought the answers to these questions would be of value in helping to strengthen understanding between our countries. I mentioned that I had to leave the Soviet Union on September 28.

From that day on there was complete silence. Each time I returned to Moscow I asked if there was any message setting the date and I told my Intourist interpreter I would be willing to go wherever Mr. Khrushchev was. In fact, we were going to Socchi, which is near Yalta where he was on vacation.

Time passed and no word. We went to Socchi and back and I came into Moscow for the last time on September 23 and decided I must do something drastic. So, after consultation, I wired Mr. Khrushchev at the Kremlin, saying that I would be willing to go to Yalta, that I had to leave for the U.S. on the 28th and that I had a considerable audience that would be interested in this interview.

Still nothing happened. But on the afternoon of the 25th, while I was at a meeting with a government official, my interpreter suddenly said: "Oh, I forgot to tell you we go to Yalta tomorrow morning."

I asked how long this would take and was told the flight was four hours each way. I said I would fly down, see Mr. Khrushchev and return the next morning. Nothing was said, but after we got back to the hotel my lady came up to me and said:

"The plane leaves at 10 o'clock in the morning, but we cannot fly over the mountains, so there will be a drive of two and a half to three hours over the mountains before reaching Yalta. I cannot tell you until arrival what hour we will be received. We will return the following day, Friday, but there is no plane until 4 p.m. and that will necessitate that we leave Yalta at 1 p.m."

I was appalled, for I would be getting into Moscow at 9 p.m. What if the weather was bad? I would miss my flight to the U.S. on Saturday morning. But I made up my mind to trust in Heaven, and I simply said I hoped there would be time to go and see the palace in which the Yalta Conference had been held.

My interpreter was pleased about this, because she said she could tell me where all the rooms were, how they were used, who occupied them, since she was at the conference the entire time and she would make all the arrangements, since now the palace was a sanitarium for potential heart patients who are under observation.

We took the flight. We drove over the mountain road. Then, in the hotel, we waited to hear the plans. After about an hour, I was given the information that Mr. Khrushchev would send his car for us the next morning at 9:30, so I would have to leave the hotel at 8:30 if I wanted to see the conference palace. I agreed to this at once and was told his car would meet us there.

We saw where the conferees met, their dining room, my husband's private dining room, his bedroom and study, Anna's bedroom and Elliott's room, and where Edward R. Stettinius and various other officials slept. In these rooms today there are many men and women taking the rest cure as prescribed by the doctors in charge. Since this is one of the old palaces of the czars, we were told which rooms were occupied by various members of the Czar's family.

The view was marvelous and I found the visit very interesting. But I was surprised, on coming out, to be greeted by quite a crowd of patients with cheers and warm expressions of pleasure at seeing me.

Mr. Khrushchev's car was there at 9:30 sharp and we drove a considerable distance until we finally drove downhill towards the Black Sea and, passing first through one gate with a soldier guard and then another with a similar guard, we finally reached the house. It was a comfortable house on a beautiful site looking across at the city of Yalta.

We found Mr. Khrushchev and another gentleman walking in the garden. We were on time to the minute, and he greeted us. As I expressed admiration of the view, he walked me down to get a full panorama of the city and explained to the interpreter that it was especially beautiful at night when the lights were lit. Then he took us to the porch, where we sat at a big table and talked.

Mr. Khrushchev is short and stocky of build. He told us he had been a factory worker, but he is extremely articulate and expresses his views with confidence and clarity. As a human being, I think you cannot help but like him, though you may disagree with his views.

At the end of the interview he invited us in for coffee and refreshments. Fruits, cakes and candies were on the table and we were offered tea or coffee. His wife came in—a simple person but, I am sure, a woman of character. His daughter and her husband also joined us, as well as the gentleman who took notes throughout our interview.

E.R.
TMs, AERP, FDRL