On Funding the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration

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On Funding the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration

66. My Day

18 December 1945

New York, Monday—According to the newspapers yesterday the Emergency Appropriation Bill of $2,400,000,000 which carried $750,000,000 as a contribution for the United States to the work of the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration, was passed on December 15th.1

However, this Bill has to go back to the Conference Committee to smooth out any differences between the Senate and House Bills. Even then according to the accounts, "the appropriation for UNRRA does not become effective until Congressional action is completed on the additional scheduled appropriation of $1,350,000,000 which will cover our contribution for next year."2

We must not allow ourselves to be lulled into complacency, therefore, and to think that since our $750,000,000 has been passed, UNRRA can go ahead and make its plans. It now seems vital that, before Congress goes home on the 20th, they pass next year's appropriation.3

Otherwise no money will be actually on hand, according to the above item, with which UNRRA can carry through its plans. It would seem impossible for the members of Congress to go home and enjoy their Christmas vacations with the weight of the suffering of the world constantly before them, and no action yet taken to alleviate it.

It would, I think, be for all of us a sadder Christmas. Our representatives in Congress must be conscious of this, and yet I am sometimes a little bit confused by4 their apparently inconsistent reactions to this suffering.

For instance, as far as I have been able to find out, there has been comparatively little protest over the fact that the Germans—Jews, Protestants and Catholics—who have spent years of the war in concentration camps, and therefore should be regarded as our Allies who fought from within Germany, are treated similarly to the Germans who fought the war against us, whether as soldiers or civilians.

I see also that thirty-four Congressmen, Democrats and Republicans, have petitioned that our army be instructed immediately to increase the rations for the German people.5 I do not want German people to starve, but the returning soldiers all speak of the fact that German children are well-fed and well-clothed. It is obvious that they would be, since for five years the wealth of all the conquered countries has been siphoned off into Germany.

There is no question, according to the reports of the men coming home, that the German people are better able to withstand this winter than our Allies, in spite of the fact that coal will be lacking and they will have less food than they had as a conquering nation.6

I feel very strongly, as I think all fair-minded people feel, that the ration given the German people this year should be limited to the bare necessities of life and that whatever we can give in excess of what is now being shipped to our Allies should go to them and not to Germany.

It is our Allies who for five years have been on a starvation diet. They are the people whose houses are cold, whose clothing is scant and they are the ones who fought with us to end the war.


1. Although thirty members of UNRRA contributed to the relief effort, the United States provided 73 percent of the funding for operations. This appropriation bill referred to the first half of the US installment for the second year, which totaled $1,350,000,000. For further information on UNRRA see n7 Document 55 ("47 Countries Pledge UNRRA $3,611,942,710," NYT, 12 January 1946, 28; HSTE; Woodbridge, 105-8).

2. The account of the conference committee ER quoted is cited in "UNRRA $750,000,000 Passed by Senate," NYT, 16 December 1945, 21.

3. Congress approved the $750,000,000 appropriation December 19 ("$750,000,000 Fund Voted for UNRRA," NYT, 20 December 1945, 2).

4. The editors removed the typographical error "of" from this point of the sentence, as it was removed when the syndicate copyedited the submission.

5. November 28, Truman released the report he had received from Byron Price, whom he had asked to assess Allied policy regarding occupied Germany. Price's self-described "blunt" report criticized De Gaulle's insistence upon "the economic dismemberment of Germany" and implied that the American ration of 1,500 calories a day would lead to starvation and an outbreak of epidemics. He concluded, "the approved medical ration to prevent starvation is 2,000 calories, and there is no likelihood that such a ration would permit the bombed-out, freezing pedestrian Germans to live anything like as well as the European average" (W. H. Lawrence, "Price Criticizes Policy in Germany," NYT, 29 November 1945, 1).

December 15 the following Senators wrote Truman demanding an immediate response to "the appalling famine in Germany and Austria": Howard Smith (R-NJ); James Eastland (D-MS), Harlan Bushfield (R-SD), Albert Hawkes (R-NJ), Henrik Shipstead (R-MN), Milton Young (R-ND), Raymond Willis (R-IN), Edward Moore (R-OK), Edwin Johnson (D-CO), Allen Ellender (D-LA), Alexander Wiley (R-WI), Bourke Hickenlooper (R-IA), Clayton Buck (R-DE), James Murray (D-MT), William Stanfill (R-KY), Orrice Murdock (D-UT), William Langer (R-ND), Robert La Follette, Jr. (R-WI), Sheridan Downey (D-CA), Leverett Saltonstall (R-MA), Homer Capehart (R-IN), Arthur Capper (R-KS), Hugh Butler (D-NE), Burton Wheeler (D-MT), Kenneth Wherry (R-NE), Clyde Hoey (D-NC), David Walsh (D-MA), Edward Carville (D-NV), Charles Tobey (R-NH), Joseph O'Mahoney (D-WY), Glen Taylor (D-ID), Joseph Guffey (D-PA), George Radcliffe (D-MD), and Henry Bridges (R-NH) ("34 Senators Urge Food for Germans," NYT, 16 December 1945, 14).

6. For an example of correspondence ER received from servicemen, see First Lieutenant Roger Ernst to ER, 19 December 1945, AERP.

On Discrimination Against Japanese Americans

In early December, a former War Relocation Authority officer wrote ER to recount discriminatory practices against Japanese Americans living in Northern California. His letter reported a resolution passed by county supervisors denying indigent aid to all Japanese Americans unless they volunteered for military service, the refusal of stores and restaurants to serve any Japanese Americans (including military personnel), the systematic application of escheat to violate the Alien Land Act, the unanimous refusal of insurance agencies to insure Japanese American property, and the exclusion of Japanese Americans who died in combat from county honor rolls. December 18, ER redacted the name and address of her correspondent and forwarded his letter to Truman, saying that she "thought the facts he gives should be brought to your attention."1

As Truman's response indicates, he forwarded the material to Tom Clark, with instructions to address "this disgraceful conduct."

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On Funding the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration

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