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Displaced Persons Must Be Taken out of Camps, Harrison Demands, Replying to Eisenhower

October 18, 1945
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Earl G. Harrison U.S. representative on the Intergovernmental Committee for Refugees, who was sent by President Truman to Europe to study the condition and needs of displaced persons, especially Jews, in Germany and Austria, today issued a statement replying to Gen. Eisenhower’s report assuring the President that “real and honest” efforts have been made to improve the living standard of the displased people.

“General Eisenhower,” Mr. Harrison said, “refers to improved conditions in the camps or centers. What we need is more action in getting the people out of the camps and less talk about improving conditions within the camps.

“General Eisenhower cites the fact that subordinate commanders are under orders to requisition German houses, grounds and other facilities without hesitation for the benefit of displaced persons. That has been true for many months, as I pointed out in my report. The trouble is the subordinate commanders are not carrying out the orders. For example, it was not until General Eisenhower himself visited Camp Feldafing a few weeks ago, after receipt of President Truman’s letter forwarding a copy of my report, that German houses in the vicinity of the camp were requisitioned to relieve the overcrowded conditions in the camps.”

Harrison “flatly” denied that displaced persons have absolute preference over Germans for housing. “That is true only on paper,” he said, “and in a few isolated instances. In my report I offered to cite examples of-quite the contrary, but I have never been requested to name names.

“I laud General Eisenhower’s letter, the date of which has not been given, but I am sure-it is quite recent, directing that necessary guarding of camps should be done by displaced persons themselves on a volunteer system and without arms. When I was there, United States’ troops were guarding the camps. That is why I said that so long as we continued to keep Jews, for example, in camps under our guard instead of S.S. troops as formerly, we would appear to be treating the Jews as the Nazis treated them except that we do not extermine them. There was nothing misleading about my statement, if there has been a change, though recent, I am very glad.

“One part of General Eisenhower’s report is definitely misleading. He states that at the time of my report there were “perhaps 1,000 Jews still in their former concentration camps.” What difference does it make whether they were in their former con- centration camps if they are continued in camps. Shifting them from one canp to another, while having a slight psychological advantage, was scarcely liberation. General Eisenhower may be differentiating between the more notorious concentration camps and other camps in which slave laborers were kept by the Germans. To me they are all canps and not normal living.

“I direct attention to the fact that in my report I expressed, and I quote, ‘complete-admiration for what has been accomplished by the military units with respect to this phase of the post-fighting job.’ I then proceeded to say that, ‘now that the worst of the pressure of mass repatriation is over, it is not unreasonable to suggest that in the next and perhaps more difficult period those who have suffered most and longest be given first and not last attention.’ Evidently this is beginning to happen under General Eisenhower’s direction and that is progress.”

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