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UNRRA selected records AG-018-026 : Poland Mission

Document | Digitized | Accession Number: 2019.37.1 | RG Number: RG-67.072

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    Consists of the Central Registry-Subject Files: correspondence and cables; reports of the office of the Chief Mission Welfare and Repatriation Division; financial documents of the Department of Finance, and reports and correspondence of the Departments of Supply. Records relate to welfare of displaced persons, child care and maternal welfare, movement of Jewish children to France and Belgium, 1944-1949; repatriation from Germany; welfare activities of the International Student Service, Save the Children Fund, Unitarian Service Committee, Quakers and other organizations.
    inclusive:  1943-1949
    Collection Creator
    United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA)
    UNRRA. Poland 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)]
    Plans to rehabilitate Poland began during the summer of 1944. In the beginning UNRRA negotiated with the Polish Exile Government in London, whose representatives were active participants in the First Council Sessions. In July 1944 USSR announced that the Polish Committee of National Liberation was taking over the administration of Liberated Poland. This complicated matters for UNRRA which had to preserve its neutrality between the London and Lublin officials. The situation was cleared, however, when in July 1945 the U.S. and U.K. Governments accorded formal recognition to a reconstituted Government, the Polish Provisional Government of National Unity. In March 1945 Michail A. Menshikov, then the Deputy Director-General of the Headquarters Bureau of Areas, was appointed to head the UNRRA Temporary Delegation to Poland whose task it was to negotiate a formal agreement with the Provisional Government, to set up a permanent mission, survey conditions within the country, and assist in computing its relief needs. Due to lack of transit visas the delegation did not proceed to Poland until July 1945, at the time of the establishment of the Provisional Government. In September 1945 Menshikov had completed arrangements for the signing of the agreement with the Polish Government, and Headquarters proceeded to establish a permanent mission. Mission staff arrived in Warsaw in mid-October. Its first major problem was lack of sufficient personnel, the reason being that Menshikov had promised the Polish Government that the Mission staff would not exceed 30 in number. In addition, Menshikov had agreed not to establish any regional offices. Limitation on Mission staff were later removed and it was also agreed to establish six regional offices which were set up in January 1946 in Katowice, Krakow, Łódź, Poznan, Gdynia and Warsaw. A seventh regional office was opened at Stattin in September 1946 when that port was opened to traffic. At the peak of operations in the second half of 1946 the Mission was just adequately staffed with 162 Class and 260 Class II employees (i.e. locally recruited). UNRRA's main point of contact with the Polish Government was through the Bureau of UNRRA Affairs which was originally formed on the arrival of the Temporary Delegation by the Ministry of Navigation and Trade. Other ministries also had coordinating committees for preparing preliminary supply requests; these requests were always screened by the UNRRA Affairs Bureau as well as an inter-ministerial sub-committee and, finally, by the Council of Ministers. The UNRRA Bureau served as a clearing house for all major policy questions concerning UNRRA. Other ministries with which UNRRA dealt also maintained their own offices for day-to-day business in their particular fields. The first shipments of supplies arrived in the summer of 1945 through the port of Constanza on the Black Sea, crossing Romania, Hungary and Czechoslovakia by rail. In September of 1945 the Polish ports of Gdynia and Danzig were opened and the time consuming overland haul was dispensed with.UNRRA's programme to rehabilitate Poland was vast. It spent $477,927,000 and delivered 2,241,889 gross long tons of supplies. In dollar value this was the largest European country programme.The organizational scheme of the Polish Mission followed in general the pattern established in the earlier UNRRA missions. The Department of Transportation was, however, uniquely in Poland, headed by a Deputy Chief of Mission, separated from the Supply Department, and responsible to the Chief of Mission. Within its jurisdiction fell water and rail transport supplies, supervision of UNRRA port offices, and the arrangements for supplying other UNRRA countries with such indigenous Polish commodities as coal. The Department of Supply was responsible for the distribution of all other supplies. In addition to the distribution responsibility, the Department of Supply was in charge of the agricultural and industrial rehabilitation programmes. The Polish Mission was closed on 30 June 1947.

    Physical Details

    4,810 digital images : JPEG ; 3.79 GB .
    System of Arrangement
    Selected records arranged in four sub-groups: 1. S-1390, Central Registry. Subject File, 1945-1947; 2. S-1394, Office of the Chief Mission. Welfare and Repatriation Division: Correspondence and reports, 1945-1947; 3. S-1397, Department of Finance; 4. S-14000, Department of Supply. Distribution Division: Correspondence and reports, 1945-1947.

    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 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.Archives and Records Management Section (UN-ARMS), UNRRA records AG-018-026. 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:
    2023-08-25 12:55:56
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