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Archives of the Polish Institute and the Sikorski Museum in London. The personal papers of General Anders are also at the Polish Institute.

Maciej Siekierski

June 1998


4. Commission for Polish Relief, 1939-1949

In response to the appeal of the Polish Government in Exile -including the Prime Minister, General Wladyslaw Sikorski, and the Ambassador in Washington, Count Jerzy Potocki -we organized the Commission for Polish Relief, Inc., on September 25, 1939. The officers of the new organization were: Chauncey McCormick, Chairman; Maurice Pate, President. The Directors were Hugh Gibson, W. Hallam Tuck, Edgar Rickard, Perrin C. Galpin, Lewis L. Strauss, Theodore Abel, Frederic C. Walcott, and Mrs. Vernon Kellogg. They sacrificed important positions to answer this call of suffering. I was made Honorary Chairman of the Commission. It was my responsibility to conduct negotiations with the various governments concerned, to secure financial support, and enlist public support by making speeches and by issuing public statements. My colleagues attended to the major problems of purchase of supplies and transportation.

For the Polish operations, a staff was quickly recruited in Europe by cable. Mr. William C. McDonald..., was located in Switzerland, enjoyed high confidence in Poland. He went to Berlin immediately to conduct negotiations with the Germans and then proceeded to Warsaw, where he set up arrangements for the distribution of food and medical-relief supplies. Mr. Gilbert Redfern... was recruited in London and sent promptly to Vilna, where he performed an outstanding task in carring for Polish refugees in the Baltic States. Mr. F. Dorsey Stephens, aided by his wife Zora, did equally devoted and useful work among the fifty thousand Polish refugees in France. In the New York headquarters of the Commission for Polish Relief, McCormick and Pate had the invaluable devotion and experienced work of Columba P. Murray, Jr., Colonel Joseph Krueger, and Bernard Fraser, all veterans of the American Relief Administration. Hugh Gibson and Frederic Walcott voluntarily gave generously of their time on the negotiating and diplomatic side. Mrs. Vernon Kellogg was a zealous raiser of private contributions in the United States...

In the initiation of relief to Poland, we concentrated upon two programs: the supply of food and clothing to the underfed children in the congested districts and ghettos in Poland, and care of Polish refugees, now scattered over Europe. Mr. Pate set up canteens, under the care of Polish women, which provided special meals to 200,000 undernourished children and aged persons daily in Poland. The Polish Government in Exile had set up refugee relief, and our organization supplied it with food and clothing. Our route for shipments was from the United States to Sweden and thence to Hamburg or Danzig. When it was cut off because of the German invasion of Norway on April 9, 1940, the Commission was able to ship through Genoa or Lisbon and thence by rail to Poland. To finance the relief, the Commission supported the appeals of the Polish-American organizations in the United States, from whom we received about $400,000. The Polish Government in Exile made an initial donation of $186,225.

It was certain that if the Commission were to be successful in carrying out a substantial program, it would cost more than the combined resources of both charity appeals and the exiled Polish Government. Therefore, on February 29, 1940, I obtained a hearing before the House Foreign Affairs Committee and advocated a fifty-million-dollar appropriation to the Red Cross for relief for Poland. I urged Norman Davis, Chairman of the American Red Cross, to undertake this relief. When the Congressional appropriation subsequently became law, the Red Cross undertook medical aid, but our organization received no part of it for the major need: food. To stimulate charitable contributions, the Commission organized a mass meeting at New York City's Madison Square Garden on March 12 at which I spoke. It organized a mass meeting in Chicago at which I also spoke, and another in New York on April 28, where both General Joseph Haller, Minister of State of the Republic of Poland, and I

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