The Under Secretary of State (Welles) to President Roosevelt 33

My Dear Mr. President: Mr. Norman Davis has written to the Department reporting further urgent appeals which the American Red Cross has received from the International Red Cross for assistance in providing relief for Greece, where the food situation is said to be rapidly deteriorating. Mr. Davis indicates his hope that through some channel relief for the Greek people can be arranged.

A fundamental question arises regarding the providing of funds for Greek relief. Mr. Davis points out that it has been the policy of the American Red Cross not to use its funds or to recommend to you allotment of the President’s Fund to send food to areas where the American Red Cross is not able to send its own representatives to supervise the actual distribution of the relief supplies. The American Red Cross is of course unable to send representatives to Greece at present. Before taking any action on the appeals he has received, therefore, Mr. Davis desires to learn the attitude of this Department towards the question.

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The principle which the American Red Cross has followed of limiting its food relief to areas where its own officers may supervise the distribution is entirely sound, and exception should be made, in my opinion, only in a very unusual emergency. We are faced with the fact, however, that as many as 1,000,000 persons may die in Greece during 1942 if relief is not sent to them, according to a recent estimate contained in a report prepared by the office of the Coordinator of Information, and it seems to me imperative for the United States to make every effort possible to come to the aid of those heroic people.

I recommend, therefore, that the Department be authorized to inform Mr. Davis that we should be glad for the American Red Cross, as an exceptional measure, to assist in the relief of Greece, through such funds or supplies as may be available to it for the purpose, with the understanding, of course, that the Red Cross will satisfy itself that adequate provision for the supervision of distribution in Greece by the International Red Cross Committee or other acceptable agency is included in any relief plan involving the use of American funds or supplies.

Faithfully yours,

Sumner Welles
  1. Notation on original: “S.W. OK FDR.”