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Memorandum for General Lutes
November 6, 1945 [Washington, D.C.]
Mrs. Robert Woods Bliss, representing the American Women’s Voluntary Services, called on me this morning having just returned from a trip to France in the interests of her organization. She toured throughout France, except the Bordeaux region.
Mrs. Bliss is interested in the same proposition as former Ambassador Phillips;1 that is, furnishing some assistance or measure of relief to the French, particularly in the devastated zones.
The proposed plan is to erect a hut in each small town or village, with a large stove, so that the women can gather there for their sewing or whatever hand-work they may wish to engage in. This would conserve fuel and would promote, which they are very anxious to do, community effort in which the French are reported to be greatly lacking. The funds will have to be raised by the organization in this country and they are already having their difficulties because of the Community Chest or War Fund procedure. However, this last is their problem.
The organization would like to know from the Army what assistance can be rendered in the way of obtaining, for token payments, the necessary huts, the truck transportation for delivering the huts and stoves, and some assistance in the erection of the huts. The question of gasoline was also raised.
I recited some of the difficulties I could foresee in this matter, particularly those relating to delay in demobilization, the possibility of the scarcity of trucks due to the heavy pressure of demobilization movements both as to men and trucks in France, etc., etc.
Will you have a map made for Mrs. Bliss, dotting in red the villages which the American Army is at least partially responsible for destroying. There will be a complication here in regard to the bombing program prior to the Normandy invasion, but we need not quibble over details.
Will you also give me your reaction to the possibilities in this case and what form of inquiry we should send General Eisenhower.2
Document Copy Text Source: George C. Marshall Papers, Pentagon Office Collection, Selected Materials, George C. Marshall Research Library, Lexington, Virginia.
Document Format: Typed memorandum.
1. William Phillips had been U.S. ambassador to the Netherlands, Belgium, Canada, and Italy, and the president’s personal representative in India.
2. Marshall told Mrs. Bliss that he had sent a message to the commanding general of the European theater requesting: (1) “his comments concerning the possibility of transferring to your project for a nominal payment such surplus housing and construction items that may become available as a result of the reduction of American forces in Europe”; (2) information regarding damage to small towns and villages in the areas through which U.S. troops had passed. (Marshall to Bliss, November 10, 1945, GCMRL/G. C. Marshall Papers [Pentagon Office, Selected].)
Recommended Citation: ThePapers of George Catlett Marshall, ed.Larry I. Bland and Sharon Ritenour Stevens(Lexington, Va.: The George C. Marshall Foundation, 1981- ). Electronic version based on The Papers of George Catlett Marshall, vol. 5, “The Finest Soldier,” January 1, 1945-January 7, 1947 (Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2003), pp. 352-353.