JULY 3, 1947
HYDE PARK, Wednesday—Last Monday, June 30th, UNRRA officially came to an end. This agency, established during the war, was the first great international organization to begin work after the war.
When it was decided last winter that we would not continue to support an international relief organization, I felt a certain sense of defeat. Much that was said at the time was true. We were told that Congress would appropriate no more money for relief administered on an international basis because they felt that, in certain countries, UNRRA funds had been used for political purposes by the governments in power. But when I listen now to what some of the people in Congress say, I wonder if we meant that we wanted to be sure these relief supplies were going to be controlled for our political purposes!
That may be wise, and perhaps starvation is a necessary threat to hold over people's heads. But I can't help thinking that, when we use such a threat, we are doing exactly what we blame others for having done. I wish that we could have gone on with an international organization for relief and rehabilitation and reformed that organization, instead of doing the job on the basis of helping people whom we alone decide are worth helping.
The decision is made, however, and we can only hope that it will be possible for us to give relief on a purely non-political basis, governed only by the needs of the people involved.
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I liked very much the statement made by Maj. Gen. Lowell W. Rooks, Director General of UNRRA, on the eve of the closing of all UNRRA missions in Europe. He recounted their achievements, which are considerable. Many nations have been tided over the critical period immediately following the war. And though we cannot look with equanimity on present conditions in Europe, still if there had been no relief of this kind, Europe would have been far worse off.
UNRRA's administration was sadly hampered at first when shipping was needed to win the war, and it was not until March 1945, two months before V-E Day, that their first full shipment was dispatched. Shipping was always one of their great difficulties. Once in Europe, they had good cooperation from the armies in moving staffs and supplies.
When UNRRA shipments are completed, the organization will have delivered nearly $3,000,000,000 worth of supplies in seventeen different countries. The value of relief provided after World War I was only about a third of what UNRRA has succeeded in distributing. It has conducted the largest peacetime shipping operation in world history.
About $1,000,000,000 was spent to help rehabilitate the internal economies of the receiving countries. $160,000,000 went for medical aid. $200,000,000 went for agricultural equipment, seeds, draft animals, tractors, and so on.
This is the beginning from which Secretary of State Marshall's economic plan can take off. We salute UNRRA for work accomplished. And we have high hopes for the recovery of Europe through its own efforts and through the help which Secretary Marshall has proposed.