840.50 UNRRA/7–1045

Memorandum by Mr. Willard L. Thorp, Deputy to the Assistant Secretary of State ( Clayton )7

You have with you two memoranda prepared under date of July 10 on Displaced Persons and the UNRRA problem in clarifying its functions in that regard. One of these memoranda was submitted by Mr. Wilcox,8 pointing out the urgency of reaching agreement with the Russians on this question. The other was prepared by Mr. Warren,9 suggesting a possible compromise between the UNRRA suggested resolution and the Russian position.

We have now discussed this matter with the British, who agree that a solution must be sought between the three governments, and who will work with us in preparing a draft for presentation to the Russians in London prior to the Council Meeting. If the occasion arises, in the course of your discussions with the Russians, you may wish to put them on notice of our feeling that UNRRA’s directives on displaced persons’ activities must be clarified, and that we hope they will be prepared to discuss a compromise solution of the present impasse in the course of the London Council Meeting.

At the meeting of the Central Committee of UNRRA yesterday afternoon, Mr. Klentsov questioned Mr. Hendrickson as to the general policy being followed in consulting the native country of the displaced [Page 995] person. Mr. Feller, General Counsel, presented the reply. He described a number of different situations, particularly those involving Poles, where, obviously, arrangements with the new government have not yet been fully worked out. The real answer which he gave was that UNRRA feels that the policy must be clarified at the London meeting. It has not taken over the Yugoslavs in Italy.


Memorandum by the Director of the Office of International Trade Policy ( Wilcox ) to the Assistant Secretary of State ( Clayton )

This memorandum discusses a problem scheduled to come before the UNRRA Council meeting in London which may evoke sharp differences of opinion between the U.S. and U.S.S.R. unless representatives of the two countries can reach agreement in advance of the meeting.

The Problem

A member government of UNRRA, Yugoslavia, has raised the following questions with UNRRA officials and UNRRA has agreed to raise them at the UNRRA Council meeting in London in August:

Does UNRRA have the authority to assist displaced persons in enemy or ex-enemy areas without the agreement of the country of which the displaced persons are nationals?
Does UNRRA have the authority to assist displaced persons who do not wish to be repatriated?

UNRRA has been assisting such persons, although the UNRRA Resolutions are not entirely clear as to whether a member nation has the power to prevent its displaced nationals from securing UNRRA assistance in such cases. The U.S.S.R. supports the Yugoslav position that UNRRA does not have such authority, whereas the United States has taken the position that UNRRA does or should have such authority. The central question is whether a member government of UNRRA may deny UNRRA assistance to those of its displaced nationals whom it regards as undesirable or possibly disloyal citizens.

A division of opinion between the United States and the U.S.S.R. on this problem might endanger the future of UNRRA. An open split at the Council meeting between the U. S. and the U.S.S.R. would have additional unfortunate consequences. It is important therefore, that Mr. Byrnes or Mr. Clayton try to get Foreign Commissar Molotov10 [Page 996] to agree to the U. S. view in Berlin11 in advance of the UNRRA Council meeting.

The Director General of UNRRA is proposing that the appropriate Resolution (57) be amended to give UNRRA express authorization to assist displaced persons in all areas, except persons who have been taken into the custody of appropriate military or civil authorities for collaborationist or criminal activities. The proposed amendment is set forth in page 5 of the attached UNRRA document.12


That the recommendations of the Director General of UNRRA be supported unequivocally by the U.S. representative at the UNRRA Council meeting.
That Mr. Byrnes or Mr. Clayton discuss the matter with Foreign Commissar Molotov and such other foreign officials as are deemed appropriate, prior to the UNRRA Council meeting, and make clear the U.S. position.


The spirit of the UNRRA Resolutions is unquestionably against discrimination in the distribution of supplies on the grounds of political belief. Resolutions 1, 2 and 7 may be cited.13
Acceptance of the Yugoslav request that assistance be withheld from its displaced nationals who have not been designated by it, would put upon UNRRA extremely heavy, if not completely impossible, administrative burdens. UNRRA would almost certainly become involved in controversies with the member governments. In case of failure of a government or UNRRA, acting for said government, to certify persons, UNRRA would be in the position of denying the barest means of life to displaced persons.
It was certainly not contemplated by the U.S. Congress or by the U.S. public that UNRRA aid to distressed and displaced persons would be subject to any such local political controls. Acceptance of the Yugoslav proposal would mean that UNRRA could not assist German and Polish Jews who do not wish to return to their home countries. It is difficult to imagine Congress appropriating additional funds for UNRRA if such actions as Yugoslavia proposes are possible and likely. Failure of Congress to appropriate funds would probably kill UNRRA.
The U.S.S.R. takes the position, we understand, that since UNRRA is a United Nations organization, its beneficiaries should not be tainted by collaborationist activities or associations. The U.S. position has been that it is difficult to identify collaborationists, that the power of member governments to declare displaced persons ineligible for UNRRA assistance on political grounds might easily be abused, that such distinctions would result in gross inhumanities, and that displaced persons actually in the custody of appropriate military and civil authorities on collaborationist or criminal charges have not and should not be assisted by UNRRA.
  1. Addressed to Mr. Clayton.
  2. The annex to this document, printed below.
  3. Not printed. Mr. George L. Warren was Adviser on Refugees and Displaced Persons.
  4. Vyacheslav Mikhailovich Molotov, Soviet People’s Commissar for Foreign Affairs.
  5. Reference is to the Potsdam Conference, July 16–August 2, 1945.
  6. Not printed.
  7. Texts in Woodbridge, UNRRA, vol. iii, pp. 42, 46, and 47, respectively.