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Exchange of Messages With President Bierut of Poland Concerning Grain Shipments by UNRRA.

March 18, 1946

[ Released March 18, 1946. Dated March 7, 1946 ]

I KNOW that you will realize that UNRRA is an international organization. Even though the United States Government contributes 72 percent to the fund, the United States Government does not control or attempt to control the administration of the fund.

I deeply sympathize, however, with the Government of Poland in the particularly difficult situation in which it now finds itself with respect to its future grain supply. Because of this sympathy and because of the desire to be helpful if possible, I have consulted with the Director General of UNRRA as to the matters referred to in your message.

The Government of Poland is undoubtedly aware that the curtailment of supplies provided to it by the United Nations through UNRRA is in no way attributable to the action of that administration.

The prevailing global scarcity of grain is such that no grain-importing country, however acute its needs, can hope to receive in the immediate future more than a portion of its needs. All countries have been forced to accept drastic cuts because of shortages.

The Director General of UNRRA advises me that the Administration has made every effort to meet the requests of Poland from the tonnages available to it within the allocations made to it. At no time, I am given to understand, has the Administration given an undertaking to supply any specific amount of grain since such an undertaking would be contrary to the practice of the Administration and meaningless in view of the fact that shipments are controlled entirely by the amount made available by the supplying countries.

The Director General of UNRRA has assured me that he is making every effort to secure supplies to satisfy the needs of all the countries now dependent on UNRRA, but that the outlook is highly critical and supplies will undoubtedly fall far below the level we would all wish to achieve.


Note: President Bierut's message, dated February 20, follows:

The Prime Minister of the Provisional Government of National Unity in Poland has been informed by the Director General of UNRRA of the intended reductions in quotas, particularly grain, for Poland.

This news has taken Poland aback as she is in a particularly difficult situation. Domestic reserves without UNRRA deliveries would force the country to insufficient bread rations even if planting is drastically limited and the population of the areas most strongly damaged by the war is deprived of supplies. Consequently, I am requesting Your Excellency, with the cooperation of UNRRA and the Combined Boards, to assure Poland full realization of the minimum grain delivery program, which was presented by Poland in an amount of 500,000 tons and at any rate to avoid reducing it below the 350,000 tons to which the UNRRA administration gave its agreement.

Poland has not participated in the grain deliveries from UNRRA in the past as these deliveries amounted to some thirty odd thousand tons. The last half year has led to complete exhaustion of domestic reserves so that today only importation, in principle on a larger scale than UNRRA would be prepared to grant, as far as can be judged from information, would relieve an extraordinarily serious situation.

At the same time, I am taking the liberty of calling attention to the extreme urgency of the matter in view of the fact that because of the nondelivery by UNRRA in February of the expected amounts of grain, the supply system now used is being upset and even large and important urban centers are deprived of regular supply.

Considering that Poland's quota of entire UNRRA supplies constitutes only a few percent, my Government hopes that, with the friendly cooperation of Allies, the needs of Poland, which has suffered so painfully from the war and from the pillaging German occupation, will be taken into consideration in sufficient measure.

Harry S. Truman, Exchange of Messages With President Bierut of Poland Concerning Grain Shipments by UNRRA. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/232701

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