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This article explores Free French responses to Allied planning for post-war international relief in Europe. A number of French experts in exile, often veterans of the League of Nations, advocated international co-operation with the nascent United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA). For such figures, participating in the UNRRA could bring critical knowledge, political legitimacy, experience, and funds. They also hoped that this participation could bolster French prestige in the wake of the recent experience of defeat and foreign occupation. Their efforts had little impact on the early development of international relief, yet the contacts and exchanges between French and Allied planners resulted in a political imperative that gave a new impetus to the post-war restructuring of French relief abroad. Studying the complex inter-relationship between French foreign policy and humanitarian efforts during the Second World War can offer historians a framework through which to reconsider French attempts to reassert their power globally. Crucially, this article argues that the UNRRA was used by a number of French expert planners as a platform from which to pursue broader political aims, notably the reassertion of republican legitimacy and the re-establishment of national sovereignty.
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