From the Stars and Stripes archives

Mrs. Roosevelt states Germans are not sole war victims

Former first lady Eleanor Roosevelt talks to workers in Stuttgart during her inspection tour of postwar Germany.


By SHIRLEY KATZANDER | STARS AND STRIPES Published: October 25, 1948

STUTTGART. Oct. 24 (S&S) — Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt, in a press conference today, laid great stress on the fact that Germany is not alone in suffering and misery, but is one of many war-torn countries that must be rebuilt "materially and spiritually."

In her answers to questions, Mrs. Roosevelt, who returned to Paris late today by plane, emphasized that European countries involved in the war were equally in need of the basic necessities, food, clothing and housing.

Asked how she thought conditions in Germany compared to those of other countries, Mrs. Roosevelt said, "Judging by what you see of people in the street, the people are better dressed here than in France."

She said distribution of food did not seem to be as good in Germany as in Britain, "but for dullness, Germany and Great Britain seem to be on a par. In certain things, Germany is a little better off and Great Britain is a little better off in other things,"

Asked by a German journalist what she planned to do about the "misery" of the German people now that she had come to see it, Mrs. Roosevelt replied:

I did not come to see the misery of the German people. I carne at the invitation of the League of Women Physicians to learn what I could about he state of Germany — not only the material state but the spiritual state ...

"I feel very strongly that Germany is a part of Europe. I feel what one does one has to do for all of Europe. No one country can be looked upon as an individual. What one does for one country one must do for all countries."

Most of the questions on German conditions were asked by German journalists.

Mrs. Roosevelt earlier in the day toured two DP camps, a German refugee settlement and a DP vocational school. At the press conference, asked what she thought of conditions under which Germans expelled by various countries were living, she replied:

"The conditions under which some people live are quite appalling, but I realize it is difficult to assimilate a great number of people." Their situation, she added, is "no worse than situations of other people in other countries I :have seen, So I will have to say they are the results that follow war."

Asked if she had in any way changed her opinion of the German people during her two-day stay in Stuttgart, Mrs, Roosevelt, who was last in Germany in 1946, said, "I have never hated any people, but I hated certain things that at one period were paramount here. That, today, I hope is past."

Mrs. Roosevelt said there were "visible signs of improvement" and added, "it seems there Is a distinct change for the better in Germany."

"There is no reason why Germany — without developing along the same lines as before — cannot become a great factor for peace if that is what the German people want," she said.

She said she believed the German people have "begun to have hope and feel they can rebuild." Speaking on, the DP question and immigration, Mrs. Roosevelt said she believed it was necessary to reestablish people as quickly as possible. "I don't think camps are a good place to be."

Questioned on a future war, the widow of the late President answered, "I can only say that you can work honestly with the rest of us who would like to prevent war. I believe all the peoples of the world would like to prevent war ... The German people can work for a stable peace"

"The effort to prevent war must be a joint effort and the German people will have to struggle for it just as much as the people of the world will have to struggle for it."'

In her tour of the DP camps, one Jewish, one Ukrainian, Mrs. Roosevelt was literally showered with flowers, Children tossed them to her and the steps of the Ukrainian camp were strewn with flowers.

Mrs. Roosevelt was accompanied by Brig Gen Thomas L. Harrold, head of Civil Affairs Div, EUCOM. and Charles M. La Follette, military governor of Wurttemberg-Baden. She went from room to room in the camps, inquiring into living conditions, food work, recreation.

The Ukrainian children sang "Home on the Range," a favorite song of FDR.

"Thank you," Mrs. Roosevelt said. "I hope you find that home on the range.""

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