President Truman to the Secretary of War (Stimson)

Dear Mr. Secretary: On November 10, 1943, President Roosevelt directed the Army62 to undertake the initial burden of shipping and distributing relief supplies for liberated areas of Europe pending the completion by civilian agencies of plans to carry out the necessary long range plan of relief. The fact that our vast military operations in Europe have been carried on without disease and unrest in liberated areas testifies to the Army’s successful discharge of the obligation so imposed.

Once liberation of a country has been accomplished, however, I feel that the best interests of the United States and of the liberated country itself require termination of this military responsibility as soon as the military situation permits. No responsibility for civilian supply in any liberated country in Europe should continue to rest upon the Army except as may be dictated by the actual necessities of the military situation.

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On the other hand, no liberated country should be prejudiced by termination of this responsibility. The date and conditions of termination in each case should be subject, of course, to the recommendation of the military commander in the field. In order that the transition from military to civilian responsibility may be smooth, final decision by the Army to end its responsibility should be made only after consultation with the government of the liberated country concerned and also with our own State Department and Foreign Economic Administration.

In addition, I think the general policy of the Army, upon such termination, should be to continue to assist the national governments involved and the appropriate civilian agencies of our own Government and UNRRA to the extent the military situation permits. This should include, where possible, and to the extent legally permissible, the transfer of supplies which are in excess of essential military requirements.

To the extent that implementation of this policy requires agreement of British military authorities, will you please cause negotiations to be initiated through appropriate military channels to obtain such agreement?

Very sincerely yours,

Harry S. Truman
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