File No. 656.119/10

The British Embassy to the Department of State


On July 3rd, the Department of State and the Department of Commerce were informally acquainted with the situation as regards transit of metals from Belgium to Germany across Dutch territory—a question which had previously been explained by Mr. Balfour’s mission in written communications to the State Department.

In view of the military importance of the metals and minerals thus passing from Belgium to Germany and in view of the requisitioning of metals on a large scale by the Germans in Belgium, the British Government had repeatedly urged the Netherlands Government to cease affording passage for these goods (scrap copper, iron lead [sic], iron ore, sulphur ore and zinc). So far as concerns metals, the Netherlands Government gave an assurance on June the 11th that no more permits for the passage of such cargoes would be given and it was on the strength of this assurance that at the beginning of July at the time of the informal communication with the State Department mentioned above, the British Government authorised the issue of letters of assurance for cargoes of metals for the Netherlands Government by the Noordam and Zyldyk from the United States.

Notwithstanding this assurance, however, large shipments of lead, old iron and iron ore from Belgium have been passing across Dutch territory and the Netherlands Government are now making reservations as to their original undertaking.

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The British Government are insisting that the traffic must be effectively stopped and meanwhile no licenses are being given for the export of metals to Holland from the United Kingdom.

The British Government would welcome any action that the United States Government can take towards the adoption of a similar policy.