840.50 UNRRA/669: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Ambassador in the United Kingdom (Winant)

5160. Your 5055, June 26.16 The Department regrets that it is unable to authorize any compromise with respect to the proposal advanced by the Soviet Government in the subcommittees. While it is unfortunate that we must adopt views different from those of the Soviet representatives, we have no choice in view of the fact that the substance of these resolutions is irrelevant to the consideration of bases of requirements and is opposed to our interests in UNRRA.

You are accordingly requested to explain to Iliuschenko that this Government will be unable to agree to the Soviet proposals in the Committee for Europe and that if they are adopted, this Government will find it necessary to object to the recommended bases both in the Committee for Europe and in the Council. The Department is telegraphing full instructions to the American Ambassador in Moscow, requesting him to discuss this matter with the Soviet authorities in an effort to persuade them to withdraw the resolutions in question.

[Page 336]

The considerations underlying the Department’s position, which you are authorized to explain to Iliuschenko, are as follows:

As a matter of procedure, it is undesirable to inject extraneous considerations of this nature into the preparation of bases for estimating requirements, particularly when the subject matter is so highly controversial that the discussion of it may result in a serious delay in the procurement program. As explained in the Department’s 4898 of June 21,17 these resolutions involve questions of policy which go far beyond the scope of the subcommittees or of the Committee for Europe. Under the terms of reference of these subcommittees any action by them on this subject may be void. Consequently, for the sake of order, it is essential that this problem not be injected into the discussion of bases of requirements.
The proposal that relief be distributed according to the extent to which particular countries have resisted the enemy is absolutely impossible of administration and would gravely jeopardize the entire success of UNRRA by injecting controversial political questions into the distribution of relief. Throughout the negotiation of the UNRRA Agreement, the Council session and the hearings before our Congress, this Government has adopted as its most basic policy in respect of UNRRA the principle that the distribution of relief shall not be used as a political weapon. Despite the explanations advanced by Mr. Iliuschenko, the proposal in question appears to be directly contrary to this basic premise.
With reference to the proposal to accord priority to members of the United Nations, the Resolutions adopted at Atlantic City already incorporate this principle. The policy of the United States Government in respect of this matter is to relax the restrictions in the Resolutions with reference to operations in ex-enemy areas. At the present time the United States and British military authorities have lull responsibility for relief in Italy and are continuing to carry this load even though a large part of liberated Italy is no longer an active military area. The Anglo-American military authorities will have additional ex-enemy areas under their jurisdiction and it is reasonable to assume that the Soviet military authorities will be confronted with responsibility for relief in ex-enemy areas in Eastern Europe, including parts of Germany and Finland, Bulgaria, Rumania and possibly Hungary. The policy advocated by the Soviet Government means either that the occupying country must at all times bear the sole responsibility for providing essential civilian supplies to ex-enemy areas or that such areas will receive no relief of any kind. If it should develop that the occupying authorities are to have the sole responsibility for civilian supply to ex-enemy areas, the ultimate effect would be that the United States would be the contributor of practically all supplies to all ex-enemy areas since in the case of those occupied by the Soviet authorities, it is probable that we would have to furnish the Soviet authorities under lend-lease with supplies to enable them to discharge this responsibility.

While Iliuschenko’s explanations as outlined in your telegram are of great interest, we do not see how any modification in the text of [Page 337] the resolutions could be made along these lines which could eliminate the questions which we have or which could effectively clarify the resolutions, or make them workable in practice. We feel, therefore, that we cannot at this time go beyond what is already provided in the Resolutions of Atlantic City and particularly in Resolution 17.18

It is suggested that you also discuss this matter with the British. Mr. A. D. Marris of the British Embassy in Washington, who is now in London, is familiar with the Department’s views on this question.19

Sent to London. Repeated to Moscow.

  1. Not printed.
  2. Not printed.
  3. Resolution No. 17 “Relating to Procedures for Ascertaining and Meeting Deficits in Supplies Requiring Importation”; see First Session of the Council of the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration, p. 50.
  4. The Second Session of the Council approved, virtually without change, the bases of requirements recommended by the Committee of the Council for Europe (Resolution No. 55, in A Compilation of the Resolutions on Policy, First and Second Sessions of the UNRRA Council (Washington, 1944), p. 73; for related documents, see ibid., Appendix VI, p. 116.

    The Council, in addition, adopted a separate resolution introduced by the Soviet Delegation (Resolution No. 56 “Relating to a Proposal Transmitted by the Committee of the Council for Europe in the Minutes of its Sixth and Seventh Meetings”) recognizing that it was the Administration’s primary responsibility to secure relief and rehabilitation supplies for the areas, liberated or to be liberated, of the United Nations and that special weight and urgency should be given to the needs of those countries in which the extent of devastation and the suffering of the people was greater and had resulted from hostilities and occupation by the enemy and active resistance in the struggle against the enemy.