APRIL 8, 1948
LONDON, Wednesday—The other night, Foreign Secretary Ernest Bevin sat beside me at a dinner given by Ambassador and Mrs. Lewis Douglas. He spoke some reassuring words on the present situation and said he thought that, in the course of the next ten years, we would see a real improvement in understanding among nations.
Nevertheless, I noticed real concern over the news from Berlin about the crash of a British transport plane in a collision with a Russian fighter plane. Apparently, the Russian pilot had been stunting about, examining all planes flying through the corridor in the Russian zone, and flew too close. It is a grave responsibility for the Russian commanders to allow their pilots to do such reckless things. It is this kind of irresponsible action which might again touch off a conflagration which all of the peoples of the world, even the Russians, would like to prevent.
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London looks much more cheerful today than it did when I was here early in 1946. I should never have thought it possible to clear away the debris so quickly and build neat little brick walls to hide the scars of war.
However, you soon find that daily living is not much easier. In fact, I think that in some ways it is harder. There is still a great shortage of food, though no one would let you know that they did not have everything necessary. Your friends use their last coupons to give you a meal and then go without certain foods for the rest of the week. One marvels at the way the British people can keep on patiently enduring endless queues and rationing and shortages when we Americans, after the war, wanted to change back to normal conditions almost overnight and were impatient of all restrictions.
The passage of the Marshall Plan by such a substantial majority in our Congress has greatly increased the confidence of the English people. At least, I gather so from the articles in the newspapers and from conversations I have had. The British feel that the United States as a whole understands that the economic revival of the democracies on this side of the Atlantic is essential to the well-being of the United States and, above all, essential to the strength of the United Nations and to the growth of freedom and justice in the world.
There is great interest in the arrival of the first shipments under the program. And I am quite sure that, if this is so evident in a country which has always felt itself a little apart from the European continent, the start of the program must be even more heartening to the people on the continent.
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Something which was said to me in a conversation about the nationalization of industries over here was rather interesting and took me back to the days of the depression in the United States. A business man here was reported to have said: "We are going through an evolution to prevent a revolution." I can well remember that in our country, during the depression, many distasteful measures were accepted largely because a possible revolution seemed near enough to require the acceptance of new methods such as many people had never envisaged.
I also had an interesting talk with a woman who is in charge of the welfare work for a chain-store group, and who has just spent several weeks in the United States studying conditions in our large department stores from the human angle. She finds us behind Britain in this respect, largely because of the war. Over here during the war, industrialists had to think about the needs of their workers, who had to produce on an unusual scale in spite of incredible transportation difficulties and food restrictions. I noticed when I was here in 1942 that, in many factories, things were done for the employees which I had never seen done in our factories. Apparently, this is true not only in the factories but also in the stores here.
But what particularly gave me food for thought was this British woman's astonishment at the bitterness existing between employer and employee in the United States. Of course, labor unions here are older and have worked out a formula for procedure in labor difficulties which is more elaborate than anything we have yet achieved. It might not work for us. However, it is a sad commentary that a visitor to our shores should feel there is less cooperation and less mutual understanding of difficulties in the industrial field in the United States than there is in the United Kingdom, which certainly has greater industrial problems to meet.