Red Cross to Rush Supplies to Poland Under Pact with Nazis for Impartial Relief
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Red Cross to Rush Supplies to Poland Under Pact with Nazis for Impartial Relief

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Chairman Norman H. Davis announced today that the American Red Cross was sending immediate relief supplies to German-occupied Poland in accordance with “satisfactory arrangements” made with the German Government for the impartial distribution of these supplies by the Polish Red Cross and other approved Polish agencies.

The relief, Mr. Davis said, would take the form of medicines, hospital supplies and warm clothing for the purchase of which an appropriation of $250,000 has been set up, as announced from Berlin last night.

“We have received word from our delegation in Berlin,” Mr. Davis said, “that the German Government has given us satisfactory assurances that American relief supplies will be distributed on a non-sectarian basis inside Poland. We know from reports received from our delegation after visiting the conquered territory that the needs are heart-breakingly urgent, but it was unthinkable that any funds, contributed by the American people to the American Red Cross could be used for relief which might be distributed without complete impartiality. After conversations with the German Government and the German Red Cross lasting more than three weeks and the exchange of many cables and telephone calls between Washington and Berlin, we are happy to announce that an agreement has been reached.

Meanwhile, representatives of agencies conducting relief in Poland met at the Red Cross for discussion of mutual problems. Details of the conference were not revealed. Among those attending were Paul Baerwald and Joseph C. Hyman, of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee; Maurice Pate, of the Polish Relief Commission; John Rich, of the American Friends Service Committee (Quakers) and Breckenridge Long, of the State Department. The Red Cross agreement with the German Government was discussed, but no comment could be secured.

Shipments from the American Red Cross will be made via Trieste to Cracow, where a central warehouse will be established, Mr. Davis said in his announcement. They will be consigned to representatives of the American Red Cross, who in conjunction with the German Red Cross will allocate them to Polish agencies and committees, including the Polish Red Cross, for impartial distribution to those in need, including the Jews.

“Following its usual procedure in giving foreign relief, ” Mr. Davis explained, “the relief rendered by the American Red Cross will be administered by the Red Cross society in the country concerned. In this instance, the German Government has designated the German Red Cross as the official agency to administer all relief for Poland contributed by sources outside Germany, but distribution within Poland will be handled by the Polish Red Cross and the Polish agencies, including Jewish organizations. Our representatives will collaborate with the German Red Cross in the allocation of the supplies and from time to time will check the needs and inspect the distribution.”

Mr. Davis said reports cabled by the Red Cross delegation, composed of Ernest J. Swift, Wayne Chatfield Taylor and James T. Nicholson, clearly showed the need for relief inside Poland.

“In Warsaw alone 65 per cent of the buildings were either completely destroyed or made uninhabitable,” Mr. Davis said. “More than 1,300,000 persons are crowded in the remaining buildings, enduring the hardships of a rigorous winter. The danger of a typhus epidemic is great despite the fact that the German military authorities, using Polish health officers, doctors and nurses, are doing their best to re-establish normal conditions.”

Mr. Davis said that of the 26 hospitals in the city, ten had been destroyed and others badly damaged, leaving about 8,000 hospital beds to serve the entire population.

“The most urgent needs,” Mr. Davis said, “are for hospital equipment, blankets, sheets, warm clothing, underwear, shoes, stockings and medicines and vaccines of all kinds. These are needs which the American Red Cross under its treaty obligations will depend upon the satisfactory operation of the plan approved by the German Government and upon the contributions of the American public to this cause.”

In addition to its work inside Poland, the American Red Cross has for some time been giving relief to Polish refugees in Hungary, Rumania, Latvia, Esthonia and Lithuania. Several shipments of medical supplies, warm underwear, sheeting, blankets, shoes and soap already have been made and others are awaiting cargo space.

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