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UNRRA selected records AG-018-009 : Italy Mission

Document | Digitized | Accession Number: 2019.34.1 | RG Number: RG-67.069

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    Correspondence, memos, statistics, publications, circulars, bulletins, financial documents, and reports relating to the Displaced Persons Operations, medical care, education and recreation, vocational trainings, emigration and resettlement.
    inclusive:  1944-1949
    Collection Creator
    United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA)
    UNRRA. Italy Mission
    The United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA) was an international relief agency representing 44 nations, but largely dominated by the United States. Founded in 1943, it became part of the United Nations (UN) in 1945, and it largely shut down operations in 1947. Its purpose was to "plan, co-ordinate, administer or arrange for the administration of measures for the relief of victims of war in any area under the control of any of the United Nations through the provision of food, fuel, clothing, shelter and other basic necessities, medical and other essential services." Its staff of civil servants included 12,000 people, with headquarters in New York. Funding came from many nations, and totaled $3.7 billion, of which the United States contributed $2.7 billion; Britain $625 million and Canada $139 million. The Administration of UNRRA at the peak of operations in mid-1946 included five types of offices and missions with a staff totaling nearly 25,000: The Headquarters Office in Washington, The European Regional Office (London), the 29 servicing offices and missions (2 area offices in Cairo and Sydney; 10 liaison offices and missions in Belgium, Denmark, France, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, Trieste; 12 procurement offices in Argentina, Brazil, Chile and later Peru, Cuba, India, Mexico, South Africa, Southern Rhodesia, Turkey, Uruguay, Venezuela; 6 offices for procurement of surplus military supplies in Caserta and later Rome, Honolulu, Manila, New Delhi, Paris, Shanghai), the sixteen missions to receiving countries (Albania, Austria, Byelorussia, China, Czechoslovakia, the Dodecanese Islands, Ethiopia, Finland, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Korea, the Philippines, Poland, Ukraine, Yugoslavia), and the Displaced Persons Operations in Germany.

    UNRRA cooperated closely with dozens of volunteer charitable organizations, who sent hundreds of their own agencies to work alongside UNRRA. In operation only three years, the agency distributed about $4 billion worth of goods, food, medicine, tools, and farm implements at a time of severe global shortages and worldwide transportation difficulties. The recipient nations had been especially hard hit by starvation, dislocation, and political chaos. It played a major role in helping Displaced Persons return to their home countries in Europe in 1945-46. Its UN functions were transferred to several UN agencies, including the International Refugee Organization and the World Health Organization. As an American relief agency, it was largely replaced by the Marshall Plan, which began operations in 1948. [Source: UN Original finding aid of records of the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA)]
    In May 1944 the first small UNRRA Observer Mission arrived in Italy. The Observer Mission's report, as approved by the Council, provided for a total expenditure of fifty million dollars, which was to provide for supplementary food for needy nursing women and expectant mothers, and children up to 15 years of age, essential medical and sanitary supplies, assistance in rehousing and resettlement of Italian refugees displaced within Italy by reason of war, and care and repatriation of UN displaced persons in Italy eligible for UNRRA aid. On 8 March 1945 an Agreement with Italy was signed. The Agreement provided for the establishment of a Joint Committee, with Lodovico Montini as chairman of the Italian Government Delegation for Relations with UNRRA, and the Chief of Mission as head of the UNRRA representation. The two chairmen were authorized to conclude... all agreements necessary to the effectuation of the purposes of this Agreement. Under the financial provisions of the Agreement, the Italian Government undertook to contribute in local currency a sum of lire corresponding to the cost of foreign exchange incurred by UNRRA for the services and supplies which it furnishes to Italy. This fund, known as The Lire Fund, was used to meet the Administration's expenses in Italian currency, and, by agreement between the chairman of the Delegation and the Chief of the Mission, to finance additional relief and rehabilitation programmes in Italy.

    In 1945 UNRRA's supplementary feeding program was restricted to the territory under the jurisdiction of the Italian Government, the area south of the Pisa-Rimina line. Until the Mission developed a proper regional organization in 1946, the district welfare officers devoted more of their efforts to expediting supply distribution than to welfare work. A total of 116,000 tons was imported by UNRRA in 1945. Under the terms of the first Agreement, supplies were received by the UNRRA mission and title to them was only transferred to the Italian Government after their allocation had been determined by agreement between the Delegation and the Mission.

    By the summer of 1945 it was clear that Italy's need for economic assistance would continue. It was estimated that about 425 million dollars would be required in 1946, half to be spent on food, and the other half to get the country's industry and agriculture on the way to rehabilitation with Italy's economic independence as the eventual goal. The Administration took over responsibility for economic aid to Italy from 1 January 1946. A new supplementary Agreement preserved many features of the old, although in certain particulars it had to be adapted to the new form and scope of aid being given. The Italian Government was no longer called upon to match in Italian currency the value of the UNRRA supplies, but instead it accepted the usual undertaking to pay the net proceeds of sale of UNRRA supplies into a special Government account (the Lire Fund). From this account the Government engaged to pay the Administration's expenses in lire and to finance relief and rehabilitation programmes. Whereas under the 1945 programme district welfare officers had been able to observe the distribution of UNRRA supplies through the supplementary feeding programme, it was clear that the new responsibilities would require the development of an expanded system of observation of distribution and at the same time would call for UNRRA representation throughout the country. Accordingly eight regions were set up with regional directors responsible to the Mission Executive Officer for coordinating the activities of the various divisional representatives in their Regions.

    Similarly, in March 1946 a North Italy Industrial Rehabilitation Office was set up in Milan, the industrial center of Italy, to facilitate the carrying out of the industrial rehabilitation programme. The UNRRA ports and shipping organization in Italy had a staff of nearly 70 people. The UNRRA port officers established in the seven principal ports of Italy fed information regarding port capacity, availability of berths, port clearance facilities, and internal transport resources to Mission Headquarters daily. The Mission employed the firm of S.A. Sorveglianza as reception agents with the responsibility of obtaining and preparing the necessary documents, acting as receivers of UNRRA cargo, guarding, tallying, and ensuring careful discharge of the supplies. Under the 1946 program, all UNRRA supplies were transferred to the Italian Government at the end of ship's tackle. The Instituto Nazionale per il Commercio Estero (National Institute for Foreign Trade), a Government organization under the Ministry of Foreign Trade, was responsible for the reception of supplies on behalf of the Italian Government. With the concurrence of the Mission, it appointed sub-agents for handling the various types of goods. Two joint committees were set up at the technical level to coordinate action between the Government and the Mission. The Joint Price Committee, set up in June 1946, was an advisory Committee to the Chief of Mission and the President of the Delegation. The Committee made recommendations regarding prices which became effective when they had been approved by the Chief of Mission and the President of the Delegation. In addition to price-fixing, the Committee also estimated maximum handling and distribution costs, thus agreeing upon the maximum amount which the distribution agencies could withhold from the gross proceeds of sale, which in turn determined the minimum net proceeds of sale that would accrue to the Lire Fund. In addition to the Joint Price Committee, a parallel Lire FundControl Committee supervised the accounting of the Lire Fund and examined in detail the various projects developed for its expenditure.

    The need to provide assistance to the homeless led to the establishment of the Administrative Committee for Assistance to the Homeless (CASAS). Although UNRRA was not linked with CASAS in the title of the agency until late 1946, CASAS was from the beginning another of the joint undertakings between the Italian Government and the Mission characteristic of UNRRA's operations in Italy. The Executive Committee which governed CASAS consisted of representatives of various Italian Government agencies and offices and the UNRRA Mission. By autumn 1946, housingwas generally regarded by the Mission as one of the main continuing activities to be financed out of the Lire Fund. On 30 December 1946 CASAS was abolished and a new UNRRA-CASAS was set up under the Ministry of Public Works.

    The end of the war left most of Italy's large textile industry in the north of the country intact but idle. The Government and UNRRA agreed, therefore, that the import of raw fibres should form a substantial part of the UNRRA programme, with the purpose of rehabilitating this important industry and at the same time providing the essential clothing so badly needed by the population. It soon became evident that the equitable distribution of the products at controlled prices would present a major problem, and as a result of this, an Italian Government decree at the end of August 1946 set up the UNRRA-Tessile Committee. The Mission was officially represented on the Committee and, in effect, UNRRATessile was a joint undertaking.

    A small liaison office in Caserta developed from the Balkan Mission when Allied Force Headquarters (AFHQ) moved from Algiers in July 1944. For some time its principal function was to arrange with the military authorities for shipment of UNRRA supplies within the regionit subsequently became primarily a centre for procurement of surplus military supplies.

    Jeanne d'Arc Refugee Centre, Philippeville, Algeria.
    The Jeanne d'Arc Refugee Centre was taken over from the British military authorities on 20 October 1944, for the purpose of receiving expected refugees from Spain. In November 1944 the North African Refugee Centre (established and maintained by the US Government's Foreign Economic Administration), at Casablanca, Morocco, was closed down, the stores being transferred to Philippeville and the refugees being sent to the Middle East Camps. A large staff and large quantities of stores were accumulated at Philippeville Camp and its subsidiary Port Office and warehouse in Algiers but few refugees were received there. It was practically closed down in June 1945, but held in reserve until liquidated in October-November of that year. The Centre originally came under the control of the Balkan Mission, but was transferred to the control of the Italy Mission on 1 January 1945.

    Physical Details

    45,996 digital images : JPEG.
    System of Arrangement
    Selected records organized in four subject sub-groups: 1. S-1457-1459 and S-1461, Correspondence with individuals and institutions [S-1457-1459, Office of Chief of Mission (1944-1947), and S-1461, Chief of Mission (1944-1947)]; 2. S-1463, Subject Files:Office of the Legal Advisor, 1944-1947; 3. S-1467, Bureau of Requirements and Distribution, 1944-1947; 4. S-1479 to S-1484 Bureau of Relief Services. Subject Files of Displaced Persons Operation in Italy, 1944-1947: Refugee Centers, Jeanne D’Arc Refugee Centre, Philippeville, Algeria (1944-1947) S-1491 Jeanne D’Arc Refugee Centre, Philippeville, Algeria (1944-1947)].

    Rights & Restrictions

    Conditions on Access
    This material can only be accessed in a Museum reading room or other on-campus viewing stations. No other access restrictions apply to this material.
    Conditions on Use
    The United Nations Archives is a holder of the copyrights of this collection.

    Keywords & Subjects

    Administrative Notes

    Source of acquisition is the United Nations Archives and Records Management Section (UN-ARMS), UNRRA records AG-018-013. The collection was digitized through a cooperative agreement between the US Holocaust Memorial Museum, the Mémorial de la Shoah, France and the UN-ARMS. The USHMM Archives received copied collection via the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum International Archival Programs Division in March 2018.Source of acquisition is the United Nations Archives and Records Management Section (UN-ARMS), UNRRA records AG-018-009. The collection was digitized through a cooperative agreement between the US Holocaust Memorial Museum, the Mémorial de la Shoah, France and the UN-ARMS. The USHMM Archives received copied collection via the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum International Archival Programs Division in February 2019.
    Record last modified:
    2023-08-28 09:14:26
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