File No. 656.119/63a

The Secretary of State to the Minister in the Netherlands ( Garrett)


726. For your information. On October 12 following memorandum was handed by the Exports Administrative Board to the Netherlands commission in this country:

The Holland Government commission on the 18th of September presented in person a memorandum to the Exports Administrative Board, and on September 25 addressed a letter to the board making certain proposals.

In considering the points raised in the memorandum and letter, the board desires to review the note presented to the Holland Government by the Exports Council on the 24th day of July, 1917.1

This note expressed the hope that certain matters mentioned therein would receive the earnest and earliest possible consideration of the Holland Government.

Among other matters mentioned there was requested full information as to the production, consumption and needs of the people of Holland, and particularly of foodstuffs set out in the form of protein, fats and carbohydrates.

The vital interest of the United States in the supplies being furnished by Holland to the Central Empires was expressed, and information was requested as to the kind and quantity of exports being thus made. It was also stated that pending a mutual arrangement as to furnishing of supplies to Holland or lending assistance in obtaining supplies for Holland, the United States would consider that any exports to the Central Empires must be taken as in reduction of the amount of foodstuffs or other commodities for the obtaining of which Holland might be given assistance.

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The Exports Administrative Board, in view of the foregoing, wishes to make the following observations:

1. Since the 24th day of July (the date of the Exports Council note) the board has been waiting for the information requested. The Minister from Holland to the United States in answer to queries of the board has stated from time to time that the commission being sent by his Government would fetch full particulars concerning all matters requested.

The board would be pleased if, providing the commission has this information, it would make the same available in order that the board may know what the needs of the people of Holland are.

2. The memorandum presented to the Exports Administrative Board on the 18th of September1 draws the conclusion that the United States is not inclined to grant licenses for export of fodder to Holland.

The board knows of no reason for this conclusion. On the contrary the information requested has as one of its objects the determining of the needs of Holland for fodder, and if Holland has such needs, then the board would be glad to grant licenses for the export of such commodities as can be spared by the United States even though this may mean considerable sacrifice, and notwithstanding that the United States can ill afford to let go such articles at the present time.

The killing off of live stock as suggested in the memorandum would appear therefore to be entirely unnecessary and the United States would regret if this should occur, and especially if the famous dairy herds of Holland should be thus depleted.

3. The Exports Administrative Board understands that notwithstanding the suggestion that exports into the Central Empires should be considered as in reduction of imports to be expected from the United States, that large quantities of various commodities have continued to be exported.

The Exports Administrative Board therefore wishes to point out to the Holland Government commission clearly that it cannot license for export foodstuffs, fodder and other materials and commodities when such articles are to be used—

For export to the Central Empires;
For release of other foodstuffs or commodities to be so exported;
For the production of dairy products to be so exported instead of for the sustenance of the people of Holland;
For the production directly or indirectly of any articles or the transportation thereof destined for the Central Empires, and above all for the transport through or across Holland territory of war materials of enemy origin and ownership being sent directly to the enemy army and to the enemy trenches.

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If Holland is to continue to supply what is equivalent to a large part of the ration of the Germany Army, it must follow that the United States cannot supply directly nor can it lend assistance in obtaining those things which the Holland Government commission requests.

4. The proposal put forward by the Holland Government commission for the disposal of cargoes and for the bunkering of ships lying in United States harbors provides for the employment of Holland tonnage, which object the board would be glad to facilitate, but the proposal gives no assurance that Holland will not employ the commodities for which export licenses are requested and continue to employ her resources for the benefit of the enemy. The proposal is therefore not acceptable.

In the meantime, pending negotiations, the Exports Administrative Board cannot agree to grant licenses for coal and ships supplies to Dutch vessels bound for Holland or Scandinavia or when proceeding to other points to procure cargoes destined for Holland or Scandinavia, when it has no assurance as to the purpose for which such cargoes are to be employed.

5. The board wishes to suggest, pending the discussion of the above matters, the advisability of employing Holland tonnage in increasing the available quantity or foodstuffs in the United States by assisting in bringing into the United States such commodities from Java, Australia, Africa, the Far East, South America, or other places as would release for export a like quantity of other or similar goods, or of employing the tonnage in the worthy causes of sending supplies to Belgium for the Commission for Relief in Belgium.

The board hopes to arrive at a satisfactory conclusion with the Holland Government commission after a discussion, and will therefore be glad to have the information suggested at the earliest moment.

  1. Ante, p. 908.
  2. Not printed.