840.48/11–1445: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Ambassador in Norway (Osborne)88

455. President’s War Relief Control Board is fostering the organization of a responsible non-profit corporation to be established by [Page 1110] the major voluntary foreign relief agencies licensed by the Board to sell to individuals and organizations in this country so-called food drafts to be honored by delivery of high value standardized packages of food to designated individuals or institutions in liberated countries and additionally among displaced persons and later in occupied territory for nationals thereof.

A similar form of relief operation was carried out by the American Relief Administration following World War I and there now is an insistent demand for such service from the great population of nationals in this country until the normal flow of money remittances can be resumed.

UNRRA is acquiring at less than cost delivery ship-side Atlantic ports Army surplus food stocks in this country. UNRRA is willing to make available to above corporation 150,000 tons in the form of 7,700,000 packages each containing over 40,000 calories of balanced food of high nutritive value sufficient to give a family of four a supplementary diet of 700 calories each per day for 2 weeks. Low cost will permit sale at $10 or less leaving ample protective margin.

Success of plan depends upon speedy action in order that the supplies will not be delayed in movement from Army warehouses and to meet winter demands. It is requested that preliminary approach be made to appropriate authorities looking to provision of free customs entry as was granted in World War I and for facilities for adequate interior distribution. Missions here are being informed of this proposal and some have already informally expressed to the WRCB their cooperation, particularly the Czechs and French.

For your confidential information it is possible that Donald Nelson89 will accept the chairmanship and active management of the corporation which proposes to conclude its operation so far as Army stocks are concerned within the period of 6 months later using other supplies if need continues.

Early report on reaction will be appreciated in order that organization of corporation may proceed with confidence.90

  1. Repeated to Brussels, Helsinki, The Hague, Paris, Rome, Athens, Belgrade, Vienna, Budapest, Bucharest, Praha, Warsaw, and Berlin.
  2. Chairman of the War Production Board, 1942–1944.
  3. Reports from most of the Missions to which this message was sent indicated that free entry of packages was assured, but in some cases there would be problems of interior distribution as adequate facilities did not exist.