Executive Secretariat Files

Briefing Book Paper

Relations Between UNRRA and the Soviet Government

It is important that UNRRA obtain the full cooperation of the Soviet Government so that relief in Eastern Europe can go forward. Such cooperation has not been readily forthcoming as evidenced by the delay on the part of the Soviet Government in (a) granting Governor Lehman’s request of last June to go to Moscow to work out necessary arrangements; (b) issuing visas to permit UNRRA personnel to go [Page 110] through Soviet territory to liberated Poland and Czechoslovakia; and (c) making arrangements for the transit of supplies through Soviet territory. Furthermore, UNRRA has recently applied for permission from the respective control commissions to send personnel to Rumania and Bulgaria to help relieve Jews and other victims of war, but the Soviet representative on UNRRA in Washington has indicated complete lack of sympathy with the proposal.

The first concrete development occurred on January 18 when UNRRA was advised officially by the Soviet authorities that two Black Sea ports are available for use in connection with relief and rehabilitation supplies and that the transit of supplies through Soviet territory will be permitted. This may indicate a complete reversal of the Soviet Government’s previous position with reference to UNRRA, although there have been no developments as to the transit of UNRRA personnel through Soviet territory or as to the desired permission for Governor Lehman and his mission to visit Moscow.

The difficulties which UNRRA has experienced with the Soviet Government are due in part to faulty handling of relations on the part of UNRRA but primarily it may be due to the inability of the U. S. S. R. to make up its mind as to whether it desires to be a recipient of relief from UNRRA or to continue to receive supplies through the Protocol. It is essential to the success of UNRRA that it receive the active cooperation of the Soviet Government with respect to operations in Eastern Europe.