840.50 UNRRA/2–2445: Telegram

The Ambassador in the United Kingdom ( Winant ) to the Secretary of State

1933. ReEmbs 1820 of February 22.12

The French refusal to sign the multilateral agreement has seriously disturbed UNRRA not so much because of the importance of the provisions of the agreement to which UNRRA believes the French have no objection as because of the significance of the signing of this pact by seven nations as a real step toward international cooperation. [Page 1151] UNRRA hopes that some means to enable France to sign without offending the Russians can be found.
A French-Russian agreement would not substantially change UNRRA’s role as defined at present in regard to displaced persons; nor would it affect, in UNRRA’s opinion, French willingness to sign the multilateral agreement were it not for the Polish issue. Scott, director of displaced persons here, is not therefore particularly disturbed at the prospect of this one agreement.
It would not be serious from UNRRA’s point of view even if the French approached the US and UK to make arrangements for the French to handle French displaced persons in the French Zone.
However the French may approach the US and UK to obtain agreements in respect of their zones similar to the agreement with the USSR. This would seriously undermine UNRRA’s position because (1) other countries would request similar treatment leaving UNRRA to deal only with stateless persons and perhaps Poles and (2) because French personnel are needed in UNRRA to enable it to handle the displaced persons problem in Germany.
The French case for obtaining similar agreements from the US and UK may be strong but the conclusion of such agreements would destroy the advantages of unified handling of the difficult displaced persons problem which the use of UNRRA for this purpose would provide. A great waste of personnel and considerable difficulties in relation to standards of treatment would result. For example, if all displaced persons in the US zone were covered by bilateral agreements with the US granting them insofar as possible rations equivalent to those of a US private a tremendous supply problem would be created and in addition only moderately active individuals would receive very heavy workers rations.
If the developments outlined above should take place the result would be a complete reversal of the position taken by the United Nations at Atlantic City that these problems should be handled jointly by the United Nations.
  1. Not printed; reference is to the signing of an UNRRA multilateral agreement on repatriation of displaced persons scheduled for February 20. At the last minute the French refused to participate, desiring to negotiate a bilateral agreement with the Soviet Union along lines of those between the Soviet Union and the United States and Great Britain. The French believed that their signature on a multilateral document, which would also include that of the Polish Government in London, would prejudice the conclusion of a bilateral arrangement. (840.50 UNRRA/2–2245)