File No. 855.48/628

The Department of State to the Netherland Legation


In reply to the memorandum of the Netherlands Legation dated September 4, 1917, the Department of State desires to say that this memorandum has been submitted to Mr. Hoover for his comments, and the Department is now in receipt of his reply. Mr. Hoover states in substance that the representatives of the Netherlands in the negotiations in question were constantly informed that the question at stake was between themselves and the Commission for Relief in Belgium, and not the United States Food Administration, and that the result of the negotiations was subject to the approval of the Exports Council.

It appears further from the statement of Mr. Hoover, that the negotiations were begun on the assumption that the ships’ cargoes were made up of a considerable amount of material suitable for human food, the actual amount to be determined by inspection of the cargoes; whereas it turned out that there was practically only a small percentage of human food actually on board the ships, there being no cargo that could be accepted by the Relief Commission in toto. In conclusion Mr. Hoover states that the object of the negotiations was to secure human food for the Belgians, a certain amount of the cargo suitable for human consumption to go to Holland on the condition that a certain amount of human food be delivered to the Belgian Relief Commission. The matter of securing fodder was not contemplated, and did not enter into the negotiations in any respect.

[In statements to the Exports Administrative Board, September 18 and 25, 1917, the special commission of the Netherland Government urged the disastrous effects of stopping the exportation of fodder to the Netherlands, but agreed to confine to food-grain cargoes the special arrangement for licensing shipments subject to division with the Commission for Relief in Belgium; the Netherland commission proposed, accordingly, that licenses be granted for some 27 vessels reloaded exclusively with such cargoes, that the fodder grains, etc., be stored, and that about 50 other ships be released for various purposes. These papers are in the War Trade Board files, Holland Negotiations, Volume I.]