File No. 855.48/859

The Netherland Legation to the Department of State

No. 4316. On September the 4th last the Netherland Minister received cabled information from the Minister for Foreign Affairs at The Hague to the effect that a conference had taken place between the presidents of the Committees for Relief in Belgium and Northern France, the Dutch delegate at Brussels, who takes the place of the former American delegate, and the Commission for Belgian Relief at Rotterdam. In this conference the conditions of utmost distress prevailing in the invaded districts of Belgium and France were under consideration and special stress was laid on the difficulty to secure a sufficient amount of tonnage which must be added to the Belgian tonnage now available. Jonkheer Loudon expresses in the message referred to above his deep personal sympathy with the Belgian relief work to which the Netherland Government has been glad to lend its direct and active cooperation since the American representatives were obliged to leave the occupied territories, and is anxious to cause the Netherland Government to take any action within its power to alleviate the increasing suffering of the inhabitants of those regions. Jonkheer Loudon is even prepared to place at the disposal of the Belgian Relief the amount of tonnage which it still needs and which has been estimated at 150,000 tons. It is however feared that if the Netherland Government gave in to this humanitarian impulse, it would encounter a great obstacle in the public opinion in Holland, which would fail to understand that full cargoes are handled at Rotterdam for the benefit of its neighbours and that for the same purpose Dutch merchant vessels run the risks of the more and more dangerous sea voyage, whereas the population of Holland itself remains without its necessary supplies. Recently the arrival of a cargo exclusivement destined for the Belgian Relief called forth a manifestation on the part of labor at Rotterdam. Jonkheer Loudon is confident that the importance of such popular movements will be readily understood in a democratic country as the United States and therefore trusts that the United States Government will not fail to see that the generous offer of 150,000 tons cannot well be definitely made unless the Netherland Government has reason to expect that it will be placed in a position to supply in a fair measure the requirements of the Dutch population, to distribute among it sufficient bread, which is the principal food of the labor classes, and to dispose as freely as possible of the remainder of the Dutch tonnage.