Truman Papers

No. 527
Memorandum by the Joint Civil Affairs Committee of the Joint Chiefs of Staff 1
top secret

Handling of Displaced Persons in Germany and Austria


1. One of the most difficult and delicate problems arising in the military government of Germany is the care and repatriation of displaced persons. Nearly four million of these people have been uncovered in British and American-controlled areas. The numbers of such persons uncovered by the Russians are not known. Approximately one and three-quarters million displaced persons have been repatriated by the British and Americans, including in excess of five hundred thousand Russians.

. . . . . . .

3. Problems which have arisen in connection with the care of displaced persons which for their solution require agreement at the governmental level are as follows:

a. On 11 February 1945 the United States and United Kingdom each executed agreements with the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics providing for the repatriation of “Soviet citizens” uncovered in Germany.2 The term “Soviet citizens” is undefined in the agreements. The present United States policy is that Poles whose homes were east of the 1939 Line of Demarkation or of the Curzon Line (Latvians, Estonians, and Lithuanians) will not be repatriated unless they affirmatively claim Soviet citizenship. Although informal indication has been received that the British Government concurs in this view, no formal concurrence therein has been received from the British and no concurrence, formal or informal, has been indicated by the Soviets.

. . . . . . .

d. Although the Soviets have observers accredited to the combined United States/United Kingdom military authorities responsible for the care of displaced persons and are therefore fully informed with [Page 797] respect to such care, no reciprocal privilege has been afforded to the British and American military with respect to the care of displaced persons uncovered in Soviet-controlled areas.


4. a. That at the proposed meeting of the heads of State agreement be sought that Poles whose homes are east of the 1939 Line of Demarcation or of the Curzon Line (Latvians, Estonians, and Lithuanians) need not be repatriated to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics unless they affirmatively claim Soviet citizenship, but rather that they shall be treated as stateless persons.

. . . . . . .

d. That agreement of the Soviets be sought to a full exchange of information between the United States, the United Kingdom, and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics with respect to the care, treatment, identity, and location of displaced persons in their respective custody, including the free exchange of observers between zones of United States, United Kingdom, and Soviet control.

  1. This memorandum was forwarded to Leahy by the Secretary of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on June 26, together with other reports, under cover of a memorandum which stated explicitly: “These reports represent the views of the committees only and have not been approved by the Joint Chiefs of Staff.” Leahy subsequently passed it to Truman.
  2. For the text of the Soviet-American agreement referred to, see Executive Agreement Series No. 505; 59 Stat. (2) 1874; Foreign Relations, The Conferences at Malta and Yalta, 1945, p. 985. The final text of the parallel Anglo-Soviet agreement is not printed, but for a draft text thereof, see ibid., p. 417.