Memorandum of Conversation between Eleanor Roosevelt and Thomas Power, Jr.

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Memorandum of Conversation between Eleanor Roosevelt and Thomas Power, Jr.

25 March 1947 [New York City]


Participants: Eleanor Roosevelt, Thomas F. Power, Jr.

Subject: United States Position on Greece

This morning I delivered to Mrs. Roosevelt a set of papers which Mr. Acheson wished placed in her hands and explained to her as a consequence of her telephone call to him on Monday, March 24. I met Mrs. Roosevelt at 8:00 a.m. at her apartment and talked with her briefly there and then accompanied her to the railroad station.

Mrs. Roosevelt said that she would read the papers carefully and would call Mr. Acheson directly on Wednesday, the 26th, if she had any unanswered questions.

Mrs. Roosevelt then proceeded to explain to me her views on the U.S. policy toward Greece and Turkey. She said that she had called Senator Austin (whom she had been unable to locate because he was in Washington) and then Mr. Acheson because during her recent lecture tour in the West she had been repeatedly questioned regarding the U.S. policy on Greece.8 She said that she had many questions in her own mind and could only tell her audience that she knew only what she had read in the newspapers. She could add only that she knew that during the GA the U.S. had opposed a continuation of international distribution of relief because it had been mishandled for political advantage. The United States held that there should be no politics in relief. She said that she was unable to explain why the U.S. had changed.

Mrs. Roosevelt continued that she, herself, was deeply disturbed, and that she had found people throughout the country greatly upset as to why the President's statement and the statements from the Department had made no mention of tying aid to Greece and Turkey in with the UN. At least, she asked, why could not the U.S. have said that it would act, as regards Greece and Turkey, in consultation with the UN, using its advice and keeping it informed while recognizing that only the U.S. could supply the necessary funds. She thought that some form of reporting U.S. action to the UN might have been specified. She felt that a considerable number of people were disturbed that the U.S. was once again pulling out of international cooperation. We had taken a large part in setting up the UN and it now seemed that we are not operating with regard for it.

Mrs. Roosevelt stated that she thought the premises for the new Greek policy had not been sufficiently explained to the public, and she had found that the solemn tone with which a major shift in policy had been announced had frightened the people. The change in policy is also of such tremendous importance that she thought it should be thoroughly explained to the American people.

Throughout all of this discussion, Mrs. Roosevelt emphasized that she was asking for information in order to resolve her doubts which she modestly said must come from sheer lack of information. She said she had called Senator Austin and Mr. Acheson because she felt she, personally, wanted to know the answers to these questions, and because she felt that as a U.S. Representative, even in the "humble capacity" as Chairman of the Commission on Human Rights, she should seriously consider whether, upon examination of all the facts in the case, she would be able to continue as a member of the U.S. team at the UN. She thought that the team of Representatives should agree on the basic policies even though those policies might be somewhat outside of there own sphere. Thus, she thought in all honesty that if, after all her questions had been answered, she could not agree with the U.S. policy on Greece, she would feel obliged to resign.

Speaking generally about Greece, Mrs. Roosevelt said that there were several specific questions of fact which bothered her. She understood the need for relief in that war devastated country, and she also considered it a proved fact that Greece was being attacked by her Northern neighbors. Mrs. Roosevelt had difficulty, however, in understanding how it happened that the country was plunged into anarchy if 85 per cent of the people had voted in support of the regime; how, with the British troops there, the terribly small minority had been able to so completely upset the country; what, if anything, the British had done to prevent this deterioration. Mrs. Roosevelt continued that while she very much appreciated all that the British had done on our behalf, and while she had every sympathy with the British people, she also knew that in the past the U.S. had been "used", and she wanted to be certain that U.S. action in that theater was for American interests.


March 6, ER learned from Nat Einhorn of the American Committee for Yugoslav Relief that despite a January recommendation by the UN "that six of the war devastated nations in Europe be assisted in 1947 to meet their urgent needs for food and other basic essentials," the US State Department had only recommended aid for five countries, "eliminating Yugoslavia." ER forwarded Einhorn's letter to Assistant Secretary of State Acheson with a brief cover note of her own, reading, "In this letter which I am enclosing, Mr. Einhorn says that Congress is being asked to assist five countries and that Yugoslavia needs help. Would you please tell me what the reason is?"9 Acheson replied two weeks later.

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Memorandum of Conversation between Eleanor Roosevelt and Thomas Power, Jr.

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