Washington (Oct. 16)
General Dwight D. Eisenhower, in a 2,000-word reply to President Truman’s letter of August 31, transmitting the Harrison report on conditions among displaced persons, particualarly Jews, in Germany and Austria, has assured the President that “real and honest efforts” have been made to improve the living standards of these people.
In his letter, dated Oct. 8, and released today by the White House, Gen. Eisenhower points out the difficult housing problems faced in the U.S. zone and states that housing “is on a reasonable basis,” and that minimum daily calories “for racial, religious and political persecutees” have been raised to 2,500. Adequate and suitable clothing and shoes have been made available, according to the General, and “uniformly excellent medical attention is available to all Jewish peole in our centers where they have generally adequate sanitary facilities.”
Stating that army surveillance had been perhaps “overzealous,” Eisenhower quoted from a letter he has sent to subordinate commanders, directing that volunteer unermed displaced persons should themselves do the necessary guarding. “Everything should be done to encourage the displaced persons to understand that they have been freed from tyranny,” directed Eisenhower, “and that the supervision exercised over them is merely that necessary for their own protection and well-being, and to facilitate essential maintenance.” Eisenhower further has instructed that military supervisors may be employed but are to be used as sentries only in emergency.
SAYS ARMY WORKING WITH EXPERT ADVICE OF UNRRA AND JEWISH AGENCIES
Gen. Eisenhower acknowledged that “in certain instances we have fallen below standard,” but pointed to the intricate problems of readjustment from “combat to mass repatriation and then to the present static phase with its unique welfare problem.” He said that the Army was conscious of these problems and working on them with the “expert advice of UNRRA, Jewish agencies and our chaplains.”
In freely admitting need for improvement, Eisenhower called attention to need for more books in the schools, for further development of leisure time and welfare activities, fostering of paid employment outside the centers, obtaining of additional quantities of furniture, bedding and fuel. He said progress had been made in reuniting families but that postal communications between displaced persons and their relatives and friends cannot yet be inaugurated.
“You can expect our continued activity to meet the needs of persecuted people,” Gen. Eisenhower wrote the President. “Perfection never will be attained, Mr. President, but real and honest efforts are being made to provide suitable living conditions for these persecuted people until they can be permanently resettled in other areas.”
The letter informed the President that special centers have been established for Jewish displaced persons, under the supervision of the Joint Distribution Committee. “Those Jews who are without nationality or those not Soviet citizens who do not desire to return to their country of origin,” are installed in these centers.
Asserting that it has “always been our practice, not just our policy” to remove Jewish and other victims “with utmost speed from concentration camps,” Eisenhower said there were “perhaps 1,000-Jews still in their former concentration camps at the time of Mr. Harrison’s report,” because they were too sick to be moved then. The letter categorically states that “no Jewish or other displaced persons have been housed in these places longer than was absolutely necessary for medical quarantine and recovery from acute illness.”