Commission for Polish Relief

The Commission for Polish Relief ( CPR ), also known unofficially as Comporel [1] or Hoover Commission , [2] was initiated in late 1939 by US President Herbert Hoover , following the German and Soviet occupation of Poland. The Commission provided relief to Nazi occupied territories of Poland until December 1941.


Following the conquest of Poland by Nazi Germany and the USSR, the country’s most fertile agricultural land was annexed to Germany in October 1939. The remaining area of ​​German-occupied Poland (the General Government ) did not produce enough food to feed its population. [3] National Socialist People’s Welfare , Nazi Germany relief service, was not providing adequate service and very early to exclude Jews from its aid programs. [4] [5] Herbert Hoover testified before the House Committee on Foreign Affairsthat around 400 to 500 million US dollars would be needed to feed approximately 7 million of destitute people in Poland, and that at least a quarter of that should be provided by the USA. [4]

Both Polish and Jewish population in areas of Nazi Germany are considered to be “sub-human” ( Untermensch ) and as such targeted for extermination and slavery. Under Nazi plans, deliberate starvation of what were considered “sub-humans” was considered. From the beginning of Nazi occupation of Poland Nazi Germany [6] By mid 1941, the German minority in Poland received 2613 calories per day while Poles received 699 and Jews in the ghetto 184. [7] The Jewish ration fulfilled 7.5 percent of their daily needs; Polish rations only 26 percent. Only the ration allocated to Germans fulfilled the full needs of their daily calorie intake.[8]

The Nazis-based food rations in Nazi occupied territories of Poland, with little spared for Polish and Jewish population:

Distribution of food in Nazi occupied Poland as of XII 1941 [9]
Nationality Daily calorie intake
Germans 2310
Foreigners 1790
Ukrainians 930
Poles 654
Jews 184

Prior to the war, the general government was not self-sufficient in agricultural production and was a net importer of food from other regions of Poland. [10] Despite this food deficit the German occupiers confiscated 27% of the agricultural output in the General Government, thus reducing the population. [11] This Nazi policy causes a humanitarian crisis in Poland’s urban areas. In 1940 20 to 25% of the population General Government depended on other relief. [12] This crisis was made worse by the German expulsion of 923,000 Polish nationals from the Polish areas of Nazi Germany into the General Government .[13] The Germans “showed no concern for the destination of the dislocated families” who depended on the local Polish welfare services. [14] Richard C. Lukas points out “To be sure, the Poles would have starved to death if they had to depend on the food rationed to them [15] To supplement the meager rations allocated by the Germans (see table above) Poles in the war market [16] Poles involved in the black market “risked arrest, deportation to a concentration camp, and even death” The German occupants maintained a large police force to eliminate the black market. [15]During the war there was an increase in infectious diseases caused by the general malnutrition among the Polish population. In 1940 the tuberculosis rate among Poles, not including Jews, was 420 per 100,000 compared to 136 per 100,000 prior to war. [17] Also, they were pressured to sign up for work in Germany to improve their living standards, but they were disappointed when they found low wages and humiliating treatment in Germany. [18]

The brutal occupation policy of Germany resulted in a huge death toll. Prior to the establishment of the death camps in mid 1942 one-fifth (500-600,000) of Polish Jews. [19] Apart from 2.3 million non-Jewish Poles killed in the course of the war an additional 473,000 perished due to the harsh conditions of the occupation, [20]

Further information on the Generalplan Ost plan for the Nazis, which includes the elimination of Slavic population in occupied territories, and artificial famines – as proposed in the Hunger Plan – were used.

Organization and operations of the Commission for Polish Relief

The Commission was organized on September 25, 1939, following an appeal by the Polish Government in Exile . [21]

The Commission was led by Maurice Pate and Chauncey McCormick with Herbert Hoover as (Honorary) Chairman. [21] [22] [23] Funding from American charities and the American Red Cross . [21] Polish-American organizations in the United States donated $ 400,000; the Polish Government in Exile, $ 186,225. [21] The Commission eventually raised $ 6,000,000, including $ 3,060,704 in the National Bank of Romania (which proved more difficult to obtain). [21]

The Commission Provided food (Such as evaporated milk , rye flour , vegetable fats , sugar and hominy grits ) [4] and clothing to Polish Refugees Throughout Europe, Such As the 50,000 Polish Refugees in France, and to 200,000 malnourished children, women and elderly inside occupied Poland that were fed daily from canteens. [21] [24] The Commission is said to have delivered 150 tons of supplies within a few months, and early 1940s CPR organized kitchens served 200,000 meals a day. [25]

The shipments have been sent by the United States to Sweden and German ports like Hamburg or Danzig . [21] After the German invasion of Norway the road was changed to Genoa or Lisbon , from where the food was shipped to Poland. [21] After Italy entered the war on the German side , Italian railroads no longer operated, and the shipments were rerouted to Vilnius . [4]

The Nazi government Provided Guarantees That ships from neutral countries That transported the terrain Would not Be Targeted by Kriegsmarine submarines [21] and CPR Was allowed to operate in occupied Poland (for example, in July 1941, two deposits Existed in Kraków and Warsaw ). [26] At the same time, Nazis were opposed to CPR requests that they were allowed to distribute to the Jews. [27] It was only around the 1940s that the Germans agreed to allow American nationals to accompany the shipments to Poland, but the German Red Cross (which at the time was under Nazi control, headed byReichsartz of SS Ernst Grawitz [28] ) was a link between them and the local groups. [4]

Reduction and ending of relief

Soon after Poland’s defeat in October 1939, controversies arose on whether the Nazis could be trusted to distribute the food properly. [27] Contributions from the Polish-American community dropped, as the community became split over that issue. [27] By early spring 1940, CPR’s efforts were reduced as a result of the drop in donations and Nazi government opposition. [27]

The matters were more complicated in the UK had a naval blockade in place against Nazi Germany. At first it was possible to get exceptions to the blockade from the British, and this was regularly the case while Neville Chamberlain was Prime Minister . [21] The US government and the American Red Cross (ARC) spoke in favor of the blockade, which played a role in diverting donations from the CPR to the ARC. [27] The Roosevelt The United States and the United Kingdom [29]

In May 1940, Winston Churchill replaced the Prime Minister, and his policy made it much more difficult to ship food to continental Europe. [21] In August 1940, the British Government decided to leave Nazi Germany under Nazi Germany. [30] This decision was motivated by the Nazi conquest of Denmark, Norway, the Low Countries and France, the growing importance of economic warfare and the difficulties experienced by the Americans in the supply chain. [31]The British government believed that the Nazi German government could not be trusted to be given to its intended recipients and that it was actually used. [30] Given the large population in the German-occupied countries, the British were also concerned that the amount of money would be substantially reduced by Nazi Germany manpower. On 7 June, the British Foreign Office also learned that the German government has had a negative impact on the role of the United States. broken down. [30]As a result, and after extensive discussions by the British cabinet and between government departments, Churchill announced on 20 August that Britain would maintain a strict blockade of Nazi Germany and countries it occupied. [30] He also stated that while Nazi Germany should be responsible for feeding its countries, Britain would make preparations to become a Nazi control. [30] This policy was supported by the European governments in exile which were based in London, though the promise of assistance was made to address the issue of narcotics. German forces. [32]

At the time of their announcement, the British government had no idea that it would be necessary to prevent the loss of life until the spring of 1941. [33] Nazi German propaganda statements made at this time aussi Claimed That no hand of Nazi-occupied Europe would go short of food, and on 26 June the Deutschlandsender radio hAD broadcast a statement Explicitly Rejecting aid from Herbert Hoover’s organization to feed the population of Belgium, France and the Netherlands. [33]

The British Government was concerned about the reaction in the United States to its decision to Nazi occupied Europe. [33] The United States government supported the blockade, with Under Secretary of State Sumner Wellestelling the British Lord Lothian ambassador on 13 July, that President Roosevelt, the US State Department and American public opinion all were opposed to “any action which would relieve pressure on Germany by feeding the distressed people of Europe”. [33] Secretary of State Cordell HullThe Lord Lothian said that it was an argument that it was possible that it was impossible to arrange any system of providing relief that was directly or indirectly available to the German government. [34]

Hoover campaigned against the British blockade. He was critical of Churchill, and later wrote that for Churchill, civilian starvation, if speeding up the end of the war, was justified. [35] On August 11, 1940, Hoover issued a statement arguing that Europe was a neutral non-governmental organization. [34] This statement has been made that the German government has agreed that the Nazis were doing so in Poland from the beginning of the occupation. [34]USSR and Balkan countries, granting unimpeded passage to the United States and the United States of America [34] Hoover also requested that the British allow the government to provide assistance to the government. [34] He also argued that “the obvious truth is that there will be wholesale starvation, death and disease in these little countries unless something is done about it”. [36] The US Government did not support Hoover’s statement and it also failed to win public support.[37] An opinion poll conducted on 1 September 1940 found that only 38 percent of Americans believed that the famine broke out in Nazi-occupied European countries of Belgium, France and the Netherlands. [38] Nevertheless, it attracted little attention after the attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941. [36]

In response to the British blockade, the Commission for the Soviet Union and the Baltic states , the goal was to have the results been meager. [21] The Commission was able to provide a very limited amount of relief to Poland until December 1941, when Nazi Germany declared war on the United States. [25] The Commission operated for several years, providing aid to Poles outside German occupied territories. [25] Hoover Institution Archives list the Commission documents from up to 1949. [21] [39]

See also

  • Finnish Relief Fund (World War II, another of Hoover’s initiatives)
  • Committee for Relief in Belgium (World War I)
  • American Relief Administration (post World War I)
  • SS Kurtuluş (World War II, Greece)
  • Operations Manna and Chowhound (World War II, Netherlands)
  • German domestic food policy during WW2
  • American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee Provided Relief for Polish Jews Prior to Dec. 1941


  1. Jump up^ Marta Aleksandra Balińska (1998). For the good of humanity: Ludwik Rajchman, medical statesman . Central European University Press. pp. 143-144. ISBN  978-963-9116-17-7 . Retrieved 2 March 2011 .
  2. Jump up^ Janusz Korczak (1980). The ghetto years, 1939-1942 . Ghetto Fighters’ House. p. 30 . Retrieved 2 March 2011 .
  3. Jump up^ Tooze (2006), p. 544
  4. ^ Jump up to:e Merle Curti (1963). American philanthropy abroad . Transaction Publishers. pp. 415-416. ISBN  978-0-88738-711-1 . Retrieved 1 March2011 .
  5. Jump up^ Emanuel Ringelblum; Joseph Kermish; Shmuel Krakowski (1 October 1992). Polish-Jewish Relations During the Second World War . Northwestern University Press. pp. 37-38. ISBN  978-0-8101-0963-6 . Retrieved 1 March 2011 .
  6. Jump up^ Polska i Polacy w drugiej wojnie światowej Czesław Łuczak 1993 Uniwersytet im. Adama Mickiewicza, page 201
  7. Jump up^ Roland, Charles G (1992). “Scenes of Hunger and Starvation” . Courage Under Siege: Disease, Starvation and Death in the Warsaw Ghetto . Remember . New York: Oxford University Press. pp. 99-104. ISBN  978-0-19-506285-4 . Retrieved 2008-01-25 .
  8. Jump up^ “Odot” (PDF) . Jerusalem: Yad Vashem. page 2
  9. Jump up^ Czesław Madajczyk “Polityka III Rzeszy w okupowanej Polsce” Państwowe Wydawnictwo Naukowe, Warszawa 1970, page 226, volume 2
  10. Jump up^ Jan Tomasz Gross, ThePolish Society Under German OccupationPrinceton University Press, (1979)ISBN 0-691-09381-4Pages 92-93 (Gross cites Polish sources that show pre-war the average per capita grain consumption in Poland 246.4 kg per capita, the General Government region produced only 202.7 kg per capita)
  11. Jump up^ Jan Tomasz Gross,Polish Society Under German OccupationPrinceton University Press, (1979)ISBN 0-691-09381-4Page 99
  12. Jump up^ Jan Tomasz Gross,Polish Society Under German OccupationPrinceton University Press, (1979)ISBN 0-691-09381-4Page 100
  13. Jump up^ Tadeusz Piotrowski, Poland’s Holocaust, McFarland & Company, Inc., 2007ISBN 0-7864-2913-5Page 299
  14. Jump up^ Jan Tomasz Gross,Polish Society Under German OccupationPrinceton University Press, (1979)ISBN 0-691-09381-4Page 72
  15. ^ Jump up to:b Richard C. Lukas , Forgotten Holocaust: Poles Under German Occupation, 1939-44 Hippocrene Books, 2001 ISBN  0-7818-0901-0 Page 31
  16. Jump up^ Jan T. Gross,Polish Society Under German OccupationPrinceton University Press (1979)ISBN 0-691-09381-4Page 109
  17. Jump up^ Jan T. Gross,Polish Society Under German OccupationPrinceton University Press (1979)ISBN 0-691-09381-4Page 102
  18. Jump up^ Jan Tomasz Gross,Polish Society Under German OccupationPrinceton University Press, (1979)ISBN 0-691-09381-4Pages 78-79
  19. Jump up^ Raul Hilberg,The Destruction of the European JewsFranklin Watts, Incorporated 1973ISBN 0-531-06452-2Page 173
  20. Jump up^ Tomasz SzarotaandWojciech Materski. Polska 1939-1945. Straty osobowe i ofiary represji pod dwiema okupacjami. Institute of National Remembrance(IPN) Warszawa 2009ISBN 978-83-7629-067-6Page 30 (“Zmarli poza więzieniami i obozami” 1940 / 41-42,000, 1941 / 2-71,000, 1942-43-142,000, 1943/44 -218.000)
  21. ^ Jump up to:m Hoover Institution Archives. Commission for Polish Relief, AACR2 Biographical History . Finding aid for Commission for Polish Relief Records, 1939-1949 . Retrieved 27 February 2011 .
  22. Jump up^ Foreign Relief Activities, Herbert Hoover Public Positions and Honors
  23. Jump up^ Herbert Hoover (1964). An American Epic: The guns cease killing and the saving of life from famine begins, 1939-1963 . H. Regnery Co. p. 4 . Retrieved 1 March 2011 .
  24. Jump up^ Raico; Ralph. Great Wars and Great Leaders . Ludwig von Mises Institute. pp. 203-. ISBN  978-1-61016-096-4 . Retrieved 1 March 2011 .
  25. ^ Jump up to:c Herbert Hoover and Poland
  26. Jump up^ Time Inc. (June 2, 1941). LIFE . Time Inc. pp. 87-. ISSN  0024-3019. Retrieved 1 March 2011 .
  27. ^ Jump up to:e Timothy Walch (September 2003). Uncommon Americans: the lives and legacies of Herbert and Lou Henry Hoover . Greenwood Publishing Group. pp. 211-212. ISBN  978-0-275-97996-6 . Retrieved 1 March 2011 .
  28. Jump up^ The Humanitarians: The International Committee of the Red CrossDavid P. Forsythe 2005 Cambridge University Press, page 44-45
  29. Jump up^ Timothy Walch (September 2003). Uncommon Americans: the lives and legacies of Herbert and Lou Henry Hoover . Greenwood Publishing Group. pp. 216-. ISBN  978-0-275-97996-6 . Retrieved 1 March 2011 .
  30. ^ Jump up to:e Medlicott (1952), p. 551
  31. Jump up^ Medlicott (1952), pp. 550-551
  32. Jump up^ Medlicott (1952), pp. 551-552
  33. ^ Jump up to:d Medlicott (1952), p. 552
  34. ^ Jump up to:e Medlicott (1952), p. 553
  35. Jump up^ Ralph Raico, “Great Wars and Great Leaders,” p. 203
  36. ^ Jump up to:b Medlicott (1952), p. 554
  37. Jump up^ Medlicott (1952), pp. 554-555
  38. Jump up^ Medlicott (1952), p. 555
  39. Jump up^ Register of the Commission for Polish Relief Records, 1939-1949

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