Department of State Records Relating to Refugees, Displaced Persons, Relief, and War Crimes During the World War II Era, Part 3: Related Agencies and Publications

Today’s post was written by David Langbart, archivist in Research Services at the National Archives at College Park, MD.

This is the third and final post in a series describing World War II-era records of the Department of State and other closely related agencies relating to refugees, displaced persons, relief, and war crimes.  It describes records of the Foreign Economic Administration, the Clemency and Parole Board for War Criminals (Japanese), and the Displaced Persons Commission, as well as online publications of documents.  Part 1, described the Department of State central files, and Part 2, described the Department’s decentralized files.

2 soldiers lead a column of men/women/children on a dirt road
66th Infantry Division Soldiers Leading Refugees from Lorient, France, Apr 4, 1945 (NAID 200166841)

Related agencies:

1. Foreign Economic Administration (FEA) – RG 169

The Foreign Economic Administration (FEA) was created in September 1943 by combining several existing agencies.  In general, FEA had responsibility for the wartime functions of export control, foreign procurement, lend-lease, reverse lend lease, participation in foreign relief and rehabilitation, and economic warfare.  In addition to the records of the FEA itself, this record group includes records of the predecessor organizations.  One of those organizations was the  Office of Foreign Relief and Rehabilitation Operations (OFFRO) in the Department of State.  That office existed from December 1942 to late 1943, when it was combined with other agencies to form the FEA.  The office was responsible for distributing relief aid and goods for the production of basic civilian necessities; providing technical advice and services with respect to relief and civilian economy; and facilitating the restoration of agriculture, housing, and transportation in areas liberated from enemy occupation.  The separate records of OFRRO were transferred to the FEA and are now part of that record group.

  • RG 169 Entry P-7: Records Relating to the Polish Refugee Camp in Colonia Santa Rosa, Mexico, 1942–1945.  (NAID 1692879).

Arranged by subject. This series consists of reports and studies, despatches, correspondence, memoranda, and other types of documents concerning facilities, conditions, personnel, budget matters, and supplies at the Polish refugee camp in Mexico, established for the short-term housing of persons displaced from Poland because of political and military conditions.  The despatches are from United States embassies in various South American countries.  Much of the correspondence is with private relief committees and councils representing Polish interests, as well as with cooperating United States Government agencies.  Included are lists of refugees housed at the camp and documents furnishing information about the political and military situation leading to the transportation of the refugees to Mexico.  (4 boxes)

  • RG 169 Entry PI 29-124: Office of Foreign Relief and Rehabilitation Operations/General Subject File, 1942-1944.  (NAID 1331659).

Arranged alphabetically by subject.  Correspondence, memoranda, reports, copies of minutes of meetings, and other material dealing with such subjects as supplies, travel, relief, communications, interrelationships with other agencies, refugees, and program planning with respect to assistance to liberated areas.  Included are administrative orders and memoranda and materials on the budget and appropriations.  Subsequent documentation on these topics is embedded in the files of various FEA offices. (58 boxes).

  • RG 169 Entry PI 29-156A. Historical Files on Relief and Rehabilitation Operations, 1940-45 [1940-1948] {OFRRO Historian’s Records}.  (NAID 1694257).

Arranged in broad topical areas and thereunder by subject.  This series consists of correspondence, memorandums, despatches, telegrams, agendas and minutes of meetings, reports and studies, committee records, news releases, bulletins, transcripts of radio addresses, lists of commodities, maps, and other documentation relating to the issues of relief and rehabilitation in liberated areas.  Broad topics include the formulation of plans for the establishment of the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA); the work and activities of the Combined Committee for French North and Western Africa (CCNA) and the North African Economic Board (NAEB); UNRRA conferences; the establish, administration, organization, and operations of the Office of Foreign Relief and Rehabilitation Operations (OFRRO); the work and activities of committees working on relief and rehabilitation issues; and European food supplies.  Specific topics include the effects of blockades, lend-lease requirements, negotiation of agreements with foreign governments, work with non-governmental agencies, the plight of refugees, allocations, procurement of food and supplies, need for health programs, budget and finance, equipment, shipment and transportation, as well as general and specific conditions found in the liberated countries and planning for the post-war world.  The records document relief and rehabilitation activities in North and West Africa, Western Europe, and the Far East.  (149 boxes)

2. Clemency and Parole Board for War Criminals (Japanese) – RG 220

President Truman established the Clemency and Parole Board (Japanese) in September 1952 by Executive Order No. 10393.  The board was composed of representatives of the Department of State (chair), the Bureau of Prisons, and the Department of Defense.  The board was supported by an Executive Secretary and stenographer.  The board was tasked with considering war crimes cases and making recommendations to the President on whether or not to grant clemency.  President Eisenhower abolished the board in December 1957, through Executive Order No. 10747.  The Executive Secretary worked until March 1958, to close out residual matters after which the Secretary of State, or his designee, picked up the functions of the board.  In 1958, the remaining Class B and Class C war criminals were released from parole restrictions and the Class A war criminal sentences were reduced to time served.  Also described below is a closely related series of files among the records of the U.S. embassy in Japan.

  • RG 220 Entry A1-33170A: General Files, 1952–1957.  (NAID 6844455).

Arranged by type of record.  This series consists of board minutes, working papers and files, agendas, parole and prison reports, chronological correspondence files, telegrams, despatches, and other material on clemency efforts.  The records document the organization, functions, and activities of the board and include files on the attitudes of the various countries involved toward imprisoned Japanese war criminals.  (6 boxes)

  • RG 220 Entry A1-33170B: Name Files, 1952–1957.  (NAID 6854369).

Arranged by class of war criminal (A, B, & C) and thereunder by name.  These files consist of memorandums, reports, applications for clemency, recommendations, notes, data sheets, correspondence, petitions, recommendations of the Japanese government (National Offenders Prevention and Rehabilitation Commission), and other material regarding the handling and adjudication of parole and clemency cases for Japanese war criminals.  The files generally include a narrative account of the crime(s) committed, a summary of the legal action taken, materials on sentencing and incarceration, and copies of legal papers relative to appeals for clemency and parole.  (33 boxes)

  • RG 84 Entry P-423A: U.S. Embassy Japan/Japanese War Crimes Case Files, 1946-1961.  (NAID 2580358).

Arranged in two parts: (1) alphabetically by name and (2) by subject.  This series consists of correspondence, notes, memorandums, reports, court transcripts, despatches, and schedules relating to Japanese war criminals held at the Sugamo Prison in Tokyo, Japan.  Included are the information about each prisoner, a brief description of their crime, the decision of the court, and parole recommendations.  Also included are applications for parole written in Japanese by the prisoners and translated by the National Offenders Prevention and Rehabilitation Commission. (32 boxes)

3. Displaced Persons Commission – RG 278

The Displaced Persons Commission was created by Congress in 1948 to administer the selection and resettlement in the United States of certain European displaced persons.  The records that are preserved consist of the policy and administration files of the Commission.  Files relating to individual displaced persons or lists of names of displaced persons are not among the records in the National Archives.  The commission went out of existence in 1952.

In addition to the Commission’s central subject files, there are budget files, records of commissioners Harry N. Rosenfield and Edward M. O’Connor, and records, mostly subject files, of the following divisions: the Legal Division, the Information and Editorial Division; the Research and Statistics Division, the Resettlement Division, and the European Division.


The published series Foreign Relations of the United States includes sections on refugee and relief matters.  Most of the documents printed there come from the Central Decimal File (NAID 302021) described in the first post in this series.  The following compilations are available online.