File No. 600.119/67

The British Ambassador ( Spring Rice ) to the Secretary of State

My Dear Mr. Secretary: On May 8, Sir E. Crawford handed to Mr. Polk a memorandum, dated May 7,1 drawn up by Mr. Balfour’s mission with full notes on the position with regard to the various neutral European countries in connection with the possible prohibition by the United States Government of various exports to those countries. In the notes on Holland it was explained that smuggling of Dutch and overseas produce to Germany had assumed very serious proportions, but no suggestion was made as to the method of dealing with this situation.

I am now instructed to make the following suggestion to you which I should be glad if you would regard as an addition to those made in the note on Holland in this memorandum. According to all the reports which reach His Majesty’s Government considerable quantities of foodstuffs are crossing the frontier from Holland into Germany in addition to the authorised exports. The Netherlands Government have in the past been inclined to reply to all protests on this subject that the question of smuggling was solely a domestic Dutch question, but it is suggested that the United States Government might, in the present situation, insist that the Netherlands Government should provide the necessary means to prevent smuggling in future since otherwise there can be no certainty that foodstuffs or other goods imported from the United States will not pass directly into the hands of the enemy.

[Page 1119]

I should like to take this opportunity of communicating to you one further general suggestion which Mr. Balfour wishes to make as an addition to the memorandum. The United States Government will doubtless realise that American exports of mineral oil to the various neutral European countries can be and are used directly to facilitate the supply of goods to the enemy. This is a somewhat complicated question, but if the United States Government were prepared to ask for undertakings from importers in such countries of oil from the United States that that oil should not in any way be used, as fuel or otherwise, for the manufacture or transport of products destined for the enemy, His Majesty’s Government would be glad to consult with them as to the directions in which and the methods by which such undertakings could most usefully be obtained.

Believe me [etc.]

(For the Ambassador)
Colvelle Barclay
  1. Ante, p. 828.