JANUARY 6, 1945
WASHINGTON, Friday—I was sent a clipping today which criticized the fact that any civilians, such as members of Congress or others, were being allowed to visit near the fighting fronts. (This was doubtless meant for me.) Only entertainers were omitted. The writer was particularly harsh on Mrs. Luce.
It seems to me that this type of criticism is foolish. Nothing can be more valuable for us in this country, on whose soil the war is not being fought, than to have people whom we trust bring us first-hand information as to the conditions of the soldiers at the front and of civilian populations in liberated areas.
Members of Congress who deal with military affairs have a right and an obligation to see things at first hand. The only criticism that is valid, I believe, is a suggestion as to the way in which these trips should be taken. Arrangements may be too comfortable, and yet the people who take the trips would often like to think that they were enduring some of the same hardships which the men endure. The blame, if there is any blame, attaches to those who arrange the trips and are anxious to provide special comforts. Naturally, no one interested in the conduct of the war wants to see anything diverted from war use. Most people would rather be uncomfortable.
If those who criticize so freely, however, would think of the value that might be derived from first-hand observation on the part of people who have the power to do certain things when they come home, I feel sure that the criticism would be more discriminating and the praise of those who are willing to go and see would be greater.
Yesterday afternoon at tea time I saw an acquaintance who is just back from Russia. She is a correspondent for one of our papers and traveled a good deal. I asked her particularly about the place which Russian women are taking, not only in the army and in the factories, but in executive and administrative work. She told me that except at the very highest level, where places are held almost entirely by military men, women are participating far more actively than they are in this country, and many women are represented in the Supreme Soviet from every part of the United Soviet Republics.
Russian women have been told that our women are not very active over here. I hope we can have more interchange of information. Life is very hard in Russia, and they do not reach perfection in their aims any more than we do in ours. Yet, having seen on their own soil what domination by Germany means, there is no weakening of determination to fight through to a complete victory.