American Relief Administration

American Relief Administration (ARA) was an American relief mission to Europe and later post-revolutionary Russia after World War I. Herbert Hoover, future president of the United States, was the program director.

American Relief Administration
Motion Picture Day Jan 26 1921.jpg
Proceeds from admissions on Motion Picture Day in 1921 went to Hoover's European relief
  • 1919; 102 years ago (1919)
FoundersUnited States Congress
TypeNon-governmental organization, Non-profit organization
Area served
Europe, Russia
Key people
Herbert Hoover, future president

The ARA's immediate predecessor was the important United States Food Administration, also headed by Hoover. He and some of his collaborators had already gained useful experience by running the Commission for Relief in Belgium which fed seven million Belgians and two million northern French during World War I.

ARA was formed by United States Congress on February 24, 1919, with a budget of 100 million dollars ($1,493,000,000 in 2021). Its budget was boosted by private donations, which resulted in another 100 million dollars. In the immediate aftermath of the war, the ARA delivered more than four million tons of relief supplies to 23 war-torn European countries. Between 1919 and 1921, Arthur Cuming Ringland was chief of mission in Europe.[1] ARA ended its operations outside Russia in 1922; it operated in Russia until 1923.

ARA and PolandEdit

About 20% of its resources were directed to the newly established Second Polish Republic. Much of its resources were helping Polish children. ARA however has been criticized by some for aiding Polish soldiers during the Polish–Soviet War.[citation needed] Polish leader Józef Piłsudski has written a note of personal thanks to Hoover; one of the streets in Warsaw has been named after him; he also received honorary degrees from the Jagiellonian University, Warsaw University and Lviv University, among other honors (such as several honorary citizenships of various Polish towns). A monument dedicated to American helpers has been constructed in Warsaw.

Colonel Alvin B. Barber headed the group from 1919 to 1922.[2] Specific areas had directors as well, such as William N. Haskell, who was Director of the ARA in Romania as of 1919.[3]

ARA and Russian famine of 1921Edit

Walter Lyman Brown, 1900

In 1921, to ease famine in Russia, the ARA's director in Europe, Walter Lyman Brown, began negotiating with the Soviet People's Commissar for Foreign Affairs, Maxim Litvinov, in Riga, Latvia. An agreement was reached on August 21, 1921, and an additional implementation agreement was signed by Brown and People's Commisar for Foreign Trade Leonid Krasin on December 30, 1921. The U.S. Congress appropriated $20,000,000 for relief under the Russian Famine Relief Act of late 1921.

American Relief Administration operations in Russia in 1922

At its peak, the ARA employed 300 Americans, more than 120,000 Russians and fed 10.5 million people daily. Its Russian operations were headed by Col. William N. Haskell. The Medical Division of the ARA functioned from November 1921 to June 1923 and helped overcome the typhus epidemic then ravaging Russia. The ARA's famine relief operations ran in parallel with much smaller Mennonite, Jewish and Quaker famine relief operations in Russia.[4][5]

The ARA's operations in Russia were shut down on June 15, 1923, after it was discovered that Russia renewed the export of grain.[6]

See alsoEdit




  1. ^ "Oral History Interview with Arthur Ringland by Richard D. McKinzie". Truman Library. Retrieved July 4, 2018.
  2. ^ "Col. Barber Quits Poland. Terminates Services There and Starts for Home". The New York Times. August 13, 1922. Retrieved May 30, 2011. Colonel A. B. Barber, technical adviser to the Republic of Poland for the last three years, who was appointed ... to undertake the mission for Poland, had wide experience to the American Relief Administration to handle ...
  3. ^ Kaba, John (1919). Politico-economic Review of Basarabia. United States: American Relief Administration. p. 7.
  4. ^ See Lance Yoder's "Historical Sketch" in the online Mennonite Central Committee Photograph Collection Archived February 4, 2012, at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^ See David McFadden et al., Constructive Spirit: Quakers in Revolutionary Russia, 2004
  6. ^ Charles M. Edmondson, "An Inquiry into the Termination of Soviet Famine Relief Programmes and the Renewal of Grain Export, 1922–23", Soviet Studies, Vol. 33, No. 3 (1981), pp. 370–385


Further readingEdit