Remarks by Eleanor Roosevelt Press Release #312 United States Mission to the United Nations

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Remarks by Eleanor Roosevelt Press Release #312 United States Mission to the United Nations

6 November 1947 [New York City]

For immediate release

Mr. Chairman:

I have already spoken and made my position clear on the Soviet resolution.4 The last speech, however, which was made by the Honorable Delegate from Ukraine was only on the Soviet resolution and I thought that we were discussing the three resolutions that are before us. Therefore, I shall be extremely brief on the subject of the Soviet resolution.

There are only a few remarks that I want to make. Simply, that I have listened with a great deal of interest to the accusations made here. They are very serious accusations. I had thought that where there were found to be quislings and traitors anywhere, if you produced prima facie evidence, they had to be returned. Therefore, if you know that they are in the camps and in responsible positions, produce the evidence. Do not just talk about it here. That I think is the first thing that struck me as you were talking.

The other thing about the newspapers. Of course there are newspapers by what you call anti-repatriation groups. There are particularly anti-repatriation groups. There are groups probably that wish to help people who do not wish to return home. Now you say such people do not exist. You assert one thing, we assert another. I think the only thing that you can do, Sir, is to furnish me with all the names which you mentioned here today and the proof and I will give you my word that I will see that they go to our authorities and that an investigation is made. More than that I cannot do, to show at least that I have good faith. I think it entirely proper since no one is forced to read a paper, that any information on both sides of the question be presented and available in any camp.

Now I am only going to take one point which my colleague from Bylorussia mentioned this morning.5 There are many things which we can take up, but one point I happen to know about. He spoke of a plan which had the backing of one of our Senators, Senator Brewster from Maine, and he spoke of it as being an accomplished fact, and I happen to know that it was turned down and it was turned down because our authorities found that they did not approve of it.6 Now, gentlemen, little inaccuracies of that kind are unfortunate because other things might be inaccurate too. That just happens to be one thing which I happen to know intimately from the beginning and therefore I happen to know it was inaccurate, but it is unfortunate to bring up a point of that kind; and then there is one other point that I wish to explain again. In the United States over the past few years we have been constantly passing laws which restrict immigration. I am sorry Sir, but the immigration into this country is very small. The quotas from different countries are set under the law, so that if we want to help, if there really are people who want to come to this country and we want to help, we will have to change those laws; and I assure you it will not be done with ease. So to talk about recruiting for cheap labor to come to this country is utter and complete nonsense. That is all that I am going to take the time to say on these two rather lengthy accusatory speeches which have been delivered.


1. Their arguments echoed earlier disputes in the General Assembly: see header Document 86; Document 90, including header; and ER's response, Document 91. On related debates surrounding formation of the IRO, see Document 152, especially n7; header Document 168. On developments in 1947 and ER's commentary n repatriation of refugees, see Document 207 and n4 Document 244.

2. Summary Record of the Third Committee, Seventy-Eighth Meeting, A/C.3/SR-50-82 (1947), 194, RM, MWelC.

3. Mission staff noted on the top of this document: Following is an unofficial transcript of remarks by Mrs. Franklin D. Roosevelt in Committee III (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural). These remarks preceded Mrs. Roosevelt's statement given to the press as press release #309.

4. As recorded in the Summary Record for November 4, ER "reminded the Committee" during the November 4 debate "that the substance of the USSR resolution had already been discussed at length the previous year when the International Refugee Organization had been created. Moreover, a USSR proposal, which had been rejected a fortnight ago by the Sixth Committee at its fifty-third meeting, was drafted in almost identical terms." She then proceeded to counter the Soviet resolution point by point, taking exception to assertions including that Western occupation authorities were preventing or delaying the repatriation of large numbers of displaced persons (DPs) who wished to return to their countries of origin; had restricted access to DP camps; and sought to resettle DPs in new countries where they would be exploited. A summary of ER's statements during the November 4 meeting appears in UND: RM: A/C.3/SR-50-82 (1947), 182-83; a summary of the November 6 debate follows on 195-96.

5. Leonid Ivanovitch Kaminsky (1907–?), a member of the Byelorussian diplomatic service since 1944, served as a representative on a range of early UN bodies (UN Yearbook 1947–48, 1069; "Russia Seeks Curb on U.N. News Draft," NYT, 22 August 1948, 6).

6. Kaminsky asserted, "Instead of repatriating the displaced persons, the Governments of the United States, the United Kingdom, Belgium, Argentina, Brazil and other countries now planned to agree on a quota system to divide up the cheap labour available in the camps for their own use." He cited "a plan submitted by Senator Ralph Owen Brewster (R-ME) to the United States Congress" as one of the proofs of his assertion. Brewster (1888–1961) had endorsed plans by manufacturer Frank Cohen to turn Passamaquoddy ("Quoddy"), Maine, into a temporary industrial training center for thousands of European DPs from the American zone of Germany, equipping them for future factory work in South America. When a tidal power project sponsored by President Roosevelt in the mid-1930s faltered in the face of political opposition, the village on the northern Maine coastline—not far from Campobello—had become a ghost town. Yet Cohen's proposal provoked the ire of labor unions, which denounced it as a "cruel program for the exploitation of many thousands of displaced persons in Europe." The War Assets Administration, the surplus property agency in charge of evaluating bids on the facilities, eventually rejected the scheme as "essentially industrial rather than educational in character." ER countered Kaminsky by pointing out that Brewster's plan had been rejected and immigration opportunities to the United States remained so low that her country "could hardly be accused of trying to recruit labour in the camps" (On the project touted by Brewster see: "Project at Quoddy Pushed by Cohen," NYT, 15 August 1947, 15; Frank L. Kluckhohn," "'Slave Labor' Disclaimed in 'Quoddy' Plan for DP's," NYT, 21 August 1947, 1; "Declared 'Cruel' Program," NYT, 22 August 1947, 5; Samuel A. Tower, "'Quoddy' DP Training Program Condemned by WAA Labor Group," NYT, 24 August 1947, 1; "'Quoddy' Plan Held Ineligible by WAA," NYT, 28 August 1947, 11; Finding aid, ROBP, MeB; A/C.3/SR-50-82 (1947), 189-92, 195-96).

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Remarks by Eleanor Roosevelt Press Release #312 United States Mission to the United Nations

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