AUGUST 25, 1961
HYDE PARK—There is, I think, a general feeling that on every side there is more calmness and willingness to negotiate the Berlin situation. What exactly brings this feeling about is difficult to discover, for certainly the actions in East Berlin tend to increase tensions rather than less them.
I would wish that a group of individuals, whose countries have no immediate interest in the situation in Central Europe, could be brought together to reconsider the whole question of how best to bring about a sense of peaceful settlement and security on all sides for Central Europe.
Granted that as a people we find the Germans in their way of life and in their standards of health and cleanliness nearer to our own concepts, and because of that we find it easy to live among them and to help them back to their present state of prosperity. They are a thrifty, hard-working people, and they have done a remarkable job from the economic standpoint since the war. But whether the traits that made Nazism possible have been really wiped out may be a question that one should ask.
And in dealing with the Soviet Union perhaps one should remember that their anxieties may have some foundation in fact.
If all these questions could be brought together and objectively considered, perhaps new solutions and new ideas might emerge.
Why American or Russian boys should be forced to lose their lives, or the people of either country should run the risk of nuclear destruction over the question of just what boundaries should be established in Central Europe is something that, to many of us, seems unthinkable. This is a question for negotiation, but not for war.
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We in the United States have felt it was necessary that Mr. Khrushchev should know that, given certain conditions, the U.S. is no more afraid to fight than is the Soviet Union—though the people in both countries, I feel sure, look upon the idea of risking nuclear destruction as a folly which they hope statesmen will be able to avoid.
This is a question that should be settled around the conference table by sensible men who are willing to give and take. It should not be a cause of war. In fact, there are very few questions—if we wish to survive as a civilization—that should make us even talk about the possibility of war.
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People around the country must have read by now that there is renewed hope that New York City will have an opera season next year. Negotiations have been resumed between the musicians' union and the Metropolitan Opera to settle the wage problem. Several weeks ago the opera company announced the cancellation of the 1961-62 season because, it said, it could not meet the musicians' demands. The union, however, has contended that it was willing to negotiate right along but that the management was adamant in refusing any discussions.
If the intervention of Secretary of Labor Arthur Goldberg brings about a final understanding it will certainly be a relief, for none of us would be happy to give up the season of opera in New York. In fact, it would be rather a disgrace for the city to be without one of its greatest cultural attractions.