Eleanor Roosevelt to Katharine Atholl

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Eleanor Roosevelt to Katharine Atholl

19 June 1946 [Hyde Park]

Dear Dutchess Atholl:

I have received your letter of June 14th. I have written to the President and Mr. Byrnes and spoken to Mr. John Winant8 but I feel hopeless about accomplishing much.9

                                     Very sincerely yours,


1. WH, 231-34; "League for European Freedom," The Times (London), 20 January 1945, 2.

2. A copy of this correspondence no longer remains in ER's files. A letter from Trygve Lie to ER dated June 3, 1946, suggests that ER had forwarded a telegram from Atholl, which concerned "the control of displaced persons camps," to Lie, who in turn forwarded it to Fiorello La Guardia. On May 28, 1946, La Guardia responded to the content of the telegram (which La Guardia said included "a statement that the UNRRA Council at Atlantic City in March agreed to give the control of displaced persons camps to representatives of countries of origin") by insisting that the UNRRA-adopted statement, Resolution 92, "said nothing about turning over to the governments the administration of the camps." La Guardia concluded that "the Duchess of Atholl's fears are groundless." Lie forwarded a copy of La Guardia's response to ER with his June 3 letter (Fiorello La Guardia to Trygve Lie, 28 May 1946, AERP; Trygve Lie to ER, 3 June 1946, AERP; "Resolution No. 92, Resolution Relating to Displaced Persons," AERP).

3. "Memorandum on the Report of the Special Committee on Refugees and Displaced Persons Submitted by the British League for European Freedom to the Delegates of The Economic and Social Council of the United Nations," AERP.

4. Duchess Atholl's hope for an independent organization for refugees would be fulfilled by the establishment of the International Refugee Organization (IRO) in December. On the IRO, see Document 152 and Document 168.

5. On February 12, 1946, the General Assembly adopted Resolution No. 7(I)/8(I), recommending first, that ECOSOC establish a committee to examine the problem of distinguishing between genuine refugees and war criminals; and second, that no displaced person may be forced to return to their native land. See also Document 78 (Glendon, 28-29).

6. Resolution No. 92, "A Resolution Relating to Displaced Persons," prioritized speed and efficiency in the relief administration's repatriation efforts, calling for the administration "to remove any handicaps … to the prompt repatriation of displaced persons" and to "keep in touch" with governments of the countries of origin in administering the refugee camps ("Resolution No. 92, Resolution Relating to Displaced Persons," AERP).

7. Some members of the Polish government-in-exile in London, which had lost its Allied support in July 1945, did not wish to be repatriated to Poland, which had been under Soviet control since liberation in the summer of 1944. The identity of the "official" to whom Duchess Atholl refers is unclear from the available record (Lukowski, 245; "Poles Return Home," TL, 21 March 1946, 4).

8. Ambassador John Winant. See n10, Document 75.

9. ER also forwarded the information to Dean Acheson. George Warren, the State Department advisor on refugees and displaced persons, responded on July 9, 1946, with a four-page letter rejecting each point the British League memorandum proposed. Furthermore, Warren argued that the league's position on "liaison officers not properly nominated by recognized governments … goes further than the" Soviet proposal which the General Assembly had previously rejected. Warren attributed this to the league's "misunderstanding of the separate and distinct functions of liaison officers and of administrators of the camps." He then summarily dismissed Atholl's argument that change would occur more speedily if the IRO were a specialized agency within the UN rather than "a constituent part." Rather than paraphrase Warren's detailed rebuttals, ER sent the duchess a copy of Warren's letter (George Warren to ER, 9 July 1946, AERP).

Refuting Anti-Semitism

May 28, Peggie Wingard, an Ohio woman whom ER had never met, wrote ER asserting that "our present programs trying to establish a better understanding between the races" were "doing the very opposite." In a two-page handwritten letter addressed to "Dear Eleanor," Wingard, who "maintained" she was "not anti-Semitic," wrote "particularly" to express her concern that the "class of Jew the U.S. seems to attract … uses the lectures dished out to the Gentile public in our churches and schools as well as publications to further his interests economically." It was "unscrupulous" for Jews "to group themselves with the negro as a persecuted minority;" they were not "Jim Crowed;" and any call for "racial tolerance" that calls for the acceptance of Jews implies that "the Gentile must accept all the schemes and cunning of … the Jewish groups" was counterproductive. Concluding "Europe doesn't want them and Britain shuts them out of Palestine—where they belong," she urged ER "to be aware of those motives so they do not injure all of us." She then asked ER "what do you think?"1

ER responded two weeks later.

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Eleanor Roosevelt to Katharine Atholl