Franklin D. Roosevelt

Excerpts from the Press Conference

July 30, 1943

Q. Good morning, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT: You'll need two or three notebooks this morning.

Q. Oh—oh.

Q. I only brought one.

THE PRESIDENT: I only try to oblige. (Laughter) What are we doing with a WAVE in here?

Q, (the WAVE) Representing the Navy, sir.

THE PRESIDENT: Grand—grand.

Q. (surveying numerous papers in front of the President) Is this going to be mimeographed?

THE PRESIDENT: No! You had better take it all down! (Cries of "Oh- oh" and laughter)

Q. It's an awful hot day.

THE PRESIDENT: Yes. I think I'll read all that, too.

Q. Shall we send out for lunch?

THE PRESIDENT: There's an idea. . . .

Here is a thing that I got at the last minute the other night, and I couldn't put it in the speech, because I didn't have the time. It came at the very last minute, from General Eisenhower.

I spoke of what we were going to do to help the Italian people in Italy. I had this cable from General Eisenhower. I wanted to include some of the facts he sent me, but there wasn't time to get them in. However, I think the American people will be interested to know just what we are doing.

The immediate supply of food for both our troops and the civilian population in Sicily had to be landed across the beaches. Emergency food for the civil population was met from the Army rations, and continues from military stocks. A stock pile of supplies especially for civilians has been established in North Africa, and is now being moved in. It includes sugar, and flour, and milk for children, olive oil, meat, and an Italian favorite called pasta. A generous amount of medical supplies, and also soap and matches, has been furnished, and the supply will continue.

Public health doctors went with the assault elements. In addition, sanitary, civil supply, transportation, and agricultural experts were also sent in, for the purpose of organizing the food resources of the island itself for the benefit of the population.

They do grow wheat. We are sending other wheat in from Africa, but to supply power for the milling of it we have sent in shipments of Diesel oil to mill the wheat.

To assist in restoring the economy of Sicily, particularly with respect to its own food supply, General Alexander has been authorized to free selected Sicilian prisoners of war, whose labor will assist in the well-being of the local population.

So you can see we are making good on our promises. And our doing that will pay dividends, and will gain the cooperation of Italians as our troops push forward.

I think this is particularly important right now. They are getting the harvest in in Sicily, and they will be harvesting all through Italy during the next few weeks. We hope that this year the Italian people as a whole will be able to keep their own crops, as is happening in Sicily, and not be compelled to let them go through to the Germans.

I have got another one.

I am releasing this "Report on Demobilization and Readjustment of Personnel."

Way back in July, 1942, over a year ago, I appointed an informal conference on postwar readjustment of civilian and military personnel. The conference was selected in order to include representatives with a wide range of experience and interest.

The members of the conference were Dr. Floyd Reeves, National Resources Planning Board; Dr. Francis Brown, Joint Army and Navy Committee; Dr. Edward Elliott, Chief of Professional and Technical Employment and Training Division of the War Manpower Commission; Dr. William Haber, Director of the Bureau of Program Requirements, War Manpower Commission; Brigadier General Frank T. Hines, Veterans' Administration; Major General Lewis B. Hershey, the Selective Service; Dr. A. F. Hinrichs, Acting Commissioner of Labor Statistics; Lieutenant Commander Ralph A. Sentman of the Educational Services Section, Bureau of Personnel, Navy Department; Colonel Francis T. Spaulding of the Education Branch, War Department; Mr. Howard Tolley, Chief of the Bureau of Agricultural Economics; Dr. Thomas J. Woofter, Jr., Director of Research, Federal Security Agency; and Mr. Leonard Outhwaite, National Resources Planning Board.

It worked as an independent body, and was entirely free in arriving at its recommendations.

And about three weeks ago they made this report.

After calling attention to the great scope of the problem, the conference expressed its belief that if the problems of demobilization are to be met satisfactorily, the executive and legislative branches of the Government must produce a national policy that will carry out the general activities of that period. It also believes it will be found necessary to establish a central directive agency for dealing with these problems.

A part of the work of the conference was general in character, and set up general objectives or processes of demobilization procedure. But it wasn't content to deal simply with principles and generalities. Wherever it was found possible to do so, the conference set forth many concrete and practical suggestions. These are well illustrated by its proposals regarding the mustering-out process that will affect the men and women in the armed services.

They have six recommendations, which are a bit more specific than the ones I made the other night; but the general process, of course, is the same. Well, for instance, they proposed three months of furlough at regular base pay, not to exceed a hundred dollars a month plus family allowances. They are more specific than I was, and also a little bit longer than I was. And I added certain things which they haven't got in, and they have got certain less important things in that I did not have in- for instance, opportunities for agricultural employment and settlement. Substantially, the objective is exactly the same as mine, although some of the details differ.

The report blocks out a general approach to the problems of demobilization, and recognizes that much work remains to be done both by the executive and legislative branches of the Government. It emphasizes the fact that this work must be commenced now, in order that plans may be fully developed before large-scale demobilization begins.

It calls attention to the fact that many men will be released from the armed forces during the course of the war, and it is desirable that the same general provisions apply to them that apply to those who are a part of the more general process of demobilization at the end of the war.

The report places strong emphasis on the importance of bringing about a rapid conversion of industry from a wartime to a peacetime basis, in establishing full employment as one of the objectives of the demobilization process. It recognizes that the bulk of employment must be furnished by private industry, and that important efforts are being made to this end by various groups in private industry in the country. It recognizes that successful demobilization can only take place if the Federal Government and private industry each perform their proper function.

It points out that the Congress and the Chief Executive must establish the general policy and provide general machinery for bringing about demobilization, but that individual initiative and group effort will also play an important part in making the machinery work.

Q. Mr. President, are you releasing that with your approval?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, not as to every word. In other words, it's a tremendously interesting study. The general objective, yes. As to the details, that is a matter for Congress to work out. The purpose is excellent. And the committee that drew it up, of course, was in its personnel an extremely good committee.

Q. Mr. President, regarding your report to the Nation the other night, there has been some speculation in some quarters as to its political portent, and some of your loyal opposition have released statements on it. Is there any comment that you would like to make, sir?

THE PRESIDENT: It reminds me of what a member of the family said this morning. He said, "Why, in your next speech, don't you try it a different way? Suppose a paragraph or two saying, 'The moon is beautiful'? Probably you will be accused of playing politics, because there are a lot of young people that like to sit out under the moon." (Laughter)

Q. Mr. President, there has been some discussion as to whether we ought to deal with the Marshal Pietro Badoglio Government, or with the King of Italy, and so forth; and I wonder whether you might think it useful to clarify that point?

THE PRESIDENT: Steve said you would ask that question. I said to him it reminds me a good deal of the old argument as to which came first, the chicken or the egg.

When a victorious army goes into a country, there are two essential conditions that they want to meet, in the first instance. The first is the end of armed opposition. The second is when that armed opposition comes to an end to avoid anarchy. In a country that gets into a state of anarchy, it is a pretty difficult thing to deal with, because it would take an awful lot of our troops.

I don't care with whom we deal in Italy, so long as it isn't a definite member of the Fascist Government, as long as they get them to lay down their arms, and so long as we don't have anarchy. Now he may be a King, or a present Prime Minister, or a Mayor of a town or a village.

We have a great big objective. The first thing is to stop the fighting, and the second thing is to avoid anarchy. Now mind you, that is only the very first step.

You will also remember that in the Atlantic Charter, something was said about self-determination. That is a long-range thing. You can't get self-determination in the first week that they lay down their arms. In other words, common sense.

And I don't think that any controversy is either called for or advisable, because it puts the thing, at this stage of the game, into the "which came first, chicken or egg" category.

Franklin D. Roosevelt, Excerpts from the Press Conference Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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