NEW YORK (Oct. 6)
The Commission for Polish Relief, Inc., newly-formed organization to raise funds in the United States and administer relief to Polish civilians along the lines of the Hoover mission in Belgium during the last war, was informed today that one of the most serious problems it faced was the “lost refugees” in Poland.
Victor J. Podoski, Polish Consul-General in Canada, visited the commission’s offices before leaving for Montreal after his return from Poland and declared that many refugees had fled from trains and other vehicles under German bombardment and run off into the Polish countryside, and now could not be traced. Podoski said that his own mother and sister, who were on the Polish Foreign Office train, were lost after the train had been bombed four times in the course of a three-day trip through Poland.
These “lost refugees,” whose number Podoski did not attempt to estimate, added to a problem of “probably upward of 700,000” persons homeless in Poland, with cold weather approaching, and close to 100,000 refugees in neighboring neutral countries, according to the commission’s estimates. It was estimated that there were 50,000 in Rumania, 20,000 to 30,000 in Hungary, 11,000 in Lithuania and 3,000 in Latvia.
At the commission’s office it was stated today that it was too early to lay down the lines of the commission’s operations, but it was intended to follow two principles: (1) seek to have local groups in the respective countries take the responsibility for as much of the relief as possible and (2) distribute the commission’s funds only for the most essential needs. Cooperation with the Red Cross, Joint Distribution Committee and all other organizations in the field is planned, it was said.
Paul Super, director of the Polish Y.M.C.A., has been appointed director of the commission’s work in Rumania and William C. McDonald borrowed from Warren Brothers of Boston, was preparing to leave for Warsaw from Zurich, Switzerland, immediately to represent the commission in the Polish capital, it was announced by Maurice Pate, secretary of the commission.
Dr. Henry N. MacCracken is chairman of the commission and Vernon Kellogg is vice chairman. First members of the commission include Dr. Theodore Abel, Robert Woods Bliss, Merian A. Cooper, Dr. John H. Finley, Mrs. Kellogg, Dr. Eric P. Kelly, Dr. Edwin W. Kemmerer, Chauncey McCormick, Mrs. William Brown Meloney, the Rev. W. Coleman Nevils, Herbert L. Satterlee, Ernst Schelling, Edwin P. Shattuck, Lewis L. Strauss, Dr. George E. Vincent, Frederick C. Walcott and Thomas J. Watson.
The commission has received authorization from the State Department to raise funds in this country for Polish civilian relief, Pate Said.
With the two appointments to the European posts, Pate declared, “we hope rapidly to have a clearly defined picture of the most pressing needs for civilian relief both in Poland and among the homeless refugees who have fled to other lands and of how neutral Americans can best help to alleviate the great misfortune that has befallen them. I have just been taking with Mr. McDonald over the phone in Zurich. He was in Warsaw under bombardment for the first 21 days of September and is now returning to begin arrangements for immediate relief. The latest word we have from Warsaw is that half of the city was in ashes. At least 600,000 of the city’s population appeared to be homeless.”
Pate said that while working out arrangements for relief within Poland immediate action has been taken to help the refugees in other lands.
“A cable just received from Mr. Super in Rumania via the State Department, states that the estimated number of civilian refugees in Rumania is more than 50,000,” Pate stated. “He says that ‘work is being organized at 30 points’, and estimates, that, at the very least, $75,000 a month will be required.
“Following the pattern of American relief during the World War, representatives are working to promote coordination of all local agencies which can help with relief. This is already being done in Rumania, Mr. Super reported, and the help of the Rumanian and Polish governments is being enlisted.