Harry S. Truman Presidential Library & Museum

Lehman, Herbert H. (Herbert Henry), 1878-1963; Lewis, John Llewellyn, 1880-1969; Anderson, Clinton Presba, 1895-1975; Wallace, Henry A. (Henry Agard), 1888-1965; Hannegan, Robert E. (Robert Emmet), 1903-1949; Ickes, Harold L. (Harold LeClair), 1874-1952;
Cabinet meetings; Prisoners of war; Food aid; Food relief

Cabinet Meeting Minutes, January 25, 1946. Matthew J. Connelly Papers - Notes on Cabinet Meetings I.

CABINET MEETING, FRIDAY, JANUARY 25, 1946

PROPOSED AGENDA

1. Discuss importation of German scientists.
2. Discuss wheat situation as it affects UNNRA
3. Suggestions with respect to the settlement of strikes.
4. Discuss prisoners of war.

THE PRESIDENT

Opened discussion of the importation of German Scientists to the United States. Stated that the American Scientists Society are opposed but that some thought should be given to the merits of the proposal. The President then stated that the wheat situation as it affects UNNRA is in bad shape and asked Secretary Anderson what is being done to meet the requirements of the war torn nations.

SECRETARY ANDERSON

Department of Agriculture will be glad to do everything possible. The question is whether Governor Lehman will allow Agriculture and the British to have some say where the grain is going to be sent.

ACTING SECRETARY ACHESON

Believes we can ship 6 million tons of wheat in the first 6 months of 1946. Shipments in January come close to 1 million tons. In February he believes our shipment will fall far short. If this deficit is allowed to continue there will be wholesale starvation in Europe. He suggested that Agriculture recheck the needs and the supplies. Suggested that the Commodity Credit Corporation be designated to buy for all foreign governments. Thinks it might be desirable to put holiday on liquor manufacturing. Pressure should be put on the British to achieve more cooperation. The Office of Defense Transportation wants Agriculture to give it priority to allocate cars to ship grain.

SECRETARY ANDERSON

Two million bushels of wheat are now in the warehouses held as futures. This grain has been bought up. If it could be turned loose it would relieve the situation. He stated that there is danger in the too sudden termination of liquor manufacturing due to the great amount of cattle feeding which is derived from by—products of liquor manufacturing.

SECRETARY WALLACE

Suggested that the President carry the story of the situation in Europe to the people.

THE PRESIDENT

Said he would be agreeable to do this. Stated that there was a tempest in Congress on the release of prisoners of war. It is the present plan to have them out of this country by April 30th.

SECRETARY ANDERSON

The sugar beet crop will depend on prisoner of war labor. If the prisoners are allowed to return to their home countries the sugar beet crop will suffer. Stated that it had been his experience that returning veterans are not interested in taking agricultural jobs. Stated that Mexican labor is not available to the sugar beet people as the railroads are using all the Mexican labor they can obtain. Stated that unless absolutely necessary he would prefer that the prisoners of war be allowed to remain until the sugar beet crop is harvested.

SECRETARY ACHESON

Stated that there is a legal restriction of one year with respect to holding prisoners of war. State Department is now trying to decide whether this is after peace or after surrender.

UNDER SECRETARY ROYAL [ROYALL]

There are 325,000 prisoners of war in the United States. 175,000 of these are British and we are committed to return them to the British. He pointed out the effect on the demobilization program. There are 38,000 now used in agriculture. Last summer 54,000 were used. There are 37,000 now engaged in the wood pulp industry and 4,000 in the food processing industry.

SECRETARY ANDERSON

We have cotton on hand but we are desperately short of food. We cannot get through the season without Prisoner of war labor in food production. It will be impossible to explain to our own farmers how the British and Russians can continue to use prisoners when we do not.

UNDER SECRETARY ROYAL [ROYALL]

He is afraid that if a 60 day extension is granted in connection with the use of prisoners of war there will be a similar demand at the expiration of that period.

THE PRESIDENT

Suggests a 60 day extension at this time with a definite statement to be made that no further extensions would be granted.

ACTING SECRETARY ACHESON

We will have a related problem with the French.

SECRETARY ANDERSON

If prisoners of war are to be kept in camps we might just as well send them home now as they will be no use to anybody in camps.

UNDER SECRETARY ROYALL

Asked how the extension was to be accomplished and what the schedule would be.

SECRETARY ANDERSON

Suggested taking them off where they are less needed whether in pulp or otherwise.

UNDER SECRETARY ROYAL [ROYALL]

In each state there are more people drawing unemployment compensation than there are prisoners of war.

THE PRESIDENT

Set the first of April as the release date. President asked Ickes to postpone Solid Fuel Administration liquidation until after the first of May.

SECRETARY ICKES

That leaves John L. Lewis in my lap.

THE PRESIDENT

He is desirous that this be done as he is afraid we will have a repeat in the coal industry.

POSTMASTER GENERAL HANNEGAN

Stated that if the food situation is so bad someone should inform the people of all the facts.

THE PRESIDENT

Asked the Secretaries of Agriculture, Commerce and State to get together. Designated Sec. Anderson as chairman and ordered them to marshal all the facts and report back the following week.


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