840.50 UNRRA/3–2045

The Assistant Secretary of State ( Acheson ) to Mr. Myron C. Taylor, Personal Representative of President Roosevelt to Pope Pius XII

My Dear Mr. Taylor: The Department has noted with particular interest recent cables and despatches in which you have reported on various aspects of the problem of coordinating the proposed UNRRA program of relief for Italy with that of American Relief for Italy.38 There are several important considerations in this matter, especially those bearing on the relations of other governments with UNRRA. After discussing these matters with the Secretary, he has asked me to write to you in some detail because of my familiarity with the deliberations at Montreal,39 and the subsequent negotiations which the Department has carried forward since with UNRRA and British officials relative to the proposed relief for Italy through UNRRA.

This Government was the original sponsor of UNRRA participation in alleviating Italian distress. We have been and still are impressed with the over-all Italian relief supply problem as a financial one for which, thus far, no satisfactory solution has been found. The Italian Government is fully aware of the difficulties involved, and, I think, appreciates that the Montreal agreement, covering limited UNRRA activities in Italy,40 was, in the first instance, a method of adding to the Italian foreign exchange resources.

There is never a gain without some loss in multilateral arrangements, and one corollary of accepting UNRRA funds and assistance [Page 972] for Italy is the concurrent obligation to accept UNRRA’s method of operation. This latter is a compromise of many views and does not therefore reflect all of the principles which this Government has sought to protect through the President’s War Relief Control Board.41 In addition, we have been subject to active pressure on the part of some of the UNRRA member governments to establish that organization as the coordinator of all voluntary relief activities under Article IV(2) of the UNRRA Agreement.42 I am enclosing for your information in this connection copies of an exchange of memoranda with the British Government43 in which you will note our acceptance of the general principle that UNRRA must be given a large measure of responsibility for the coordination of private effort related to specific relief functions which it undertakes by agreement with governments of liberated areas.

American Relief for Italy has done outstanding work, thanks primarily to your efforts. The Department is very anxious that the autonomy of these operations remain undisturbed, not only because of their importance to the Italian people, but also because foreign governments should clearly understand the difference between voluntary relief activities of the American people and those which are undertaken by an international organization of which this Government is only one of forty-four members.

I am sure that the appropriate officials of the Italian Government are aware of the U.S. interest in relieving the destitute civilian population of Italy by any means possible. The fact that this must be done through two separate channels presents a problem of coordination of effort and is one which the Italian Government itself must help to solve in the first instance. I am therefore sending a copy of this letter to Ambassador Kirk44 for his information.

I have also asked Mr. James A. Stillwell,45 who will be in Rome in the near future as an officer of the Department thoroughly familiar with Italian supply procedures and developments, to put himself at your disposal for any detailed information on UNRRA activities here on which you may desire further enlightenment.46

Sincerely yours,

Dean Acheson
  1. A voluntary agency organized by Myron C. Taylor, who became its chairman.
  2. The Second Session of the UNRRA Council was held at Montreal, September 15–27, 1944.
  3. Resolution 58; for text, see Woodbridge, UNRRA, vol. iii, p. 135. For a report on the proposal introduced at the Montreal meeting by the United States on limited operations by UNRRA in Italy, see telegram 236, October 4, 1944, 7 p.m., to Rome, Foreign Relations, 1944, vol. ii, p. 347.
  4. Established on July 25, 1942. It was concerned with general administration of solicitation and collection of funds and contributions for relief purposes.
  5. For text, see Woodbridge, UNRRA, vol. iii, pp. 26–27.
  6. Reference here is to a letter from Roger Jackling, Second Secretary of the British Embassy, to Donald S. Gilpatric, Adviser, War Areas Economic Division, February 9, 1945, and Gilpatric’s reply, March 15; neither printed.
  7. Alexander C. Kirk, American Ambassador in Italy.
  8. Adviser, War Areas Economic Division.
  9. In telegram 829, March 29, 1945, 5 p.m., from Rome, Stillwell reported to Acheson that he had had a conference with Mr. Taylor and several discussions with Spurgeon M. Keeny, Chief of the UNRRA Mission in Italy. Stillwell stated that a satisfactory working arrangement had been worked out among the various relief distribution agencies, including UNRRA, and that both Taylor and Keeny were “happy.” (840.50 UNRRA/3–2945).