File No. 656.119/62

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


1508. You will have seen from the recent press summaries that agitation in the papers now chiefly over the gravel controversy with Great Britain and the drastic cutting off commercial cables with which our alleged harsh intentions and alleged unfriendly procrastination in reaching agreement on outstanding questions are frequently coupled. In regard to the gravel controversy Loudon tells me that his Government is firmly decided not to yield to such methods as the British are employing. He will act, however, immediately [to] stop all the gravel and sand transit if British Government will give him proofs that this material is being put to military use. The Dutch engineers who have investigated the matter report that all this material is being used for repairs of roads, canals, etc., outside army zones. It does not appear that the Dutch officers were taken into the army zones. British Minister tells me he has given convincing proofs of military usage. He says that matter is so serious to British and French troops that there can be no compromise. I understand that the Dutch Government will welcome the receipt of proofs which will enable it to stop the traffic and say to Germany that it is done because Germany has broken faith by using the material for purposes she had promised not to put it to. Without such proof they dare not take action which might serve Germany as excuse for denouncement of Rhine treaty which Germany has long desired to be freed from. The proofs submitted, as far as I have been able to learn, are not necessarily convincing although they undoubtedly tend to show destination and use of the material in army zones.

In regard to criticism of us it is, when you come down to it, based, if on anything, largely on guesses at our intentions. Of course, we cannot be dissociated from those with whom we are fighting but the agitation against us helps neither Holland not ourselves. I have made informal use of your telegram of October 61 but I suggest that the situation might be cleared by a statement from you or by me under your instruction. This people … think now that we are wilfully holding at New York not only their ships but cargoes which they have bought and paid for which are deteriorating and may be wasted entirely and that this is an action that [Page 1141] benefits nobody. They say that their commission reports itself up against stone wall; that it is met by the reiterated statement of the Exports Board, “As long as Holland exports anything to Germany nothing shall go from the United States to Holland.” This does not seem to agree with your statement of our aims in your October 6.

It is impossible here for the nurses [masses] and press to comprehend this situation given the absence of authentic news or of official statements.

Aside from the rationing, shipping, bunker and other questions, it would seem that unless certain industries are supplied with raw materials at least in sufficient quantities to keep them going they must shut down and throw out of employment labor which may be forced to seek employment in German munition factories. I am informed that one-sixth of the regular operatives in Dutch spinneries is already employed in Germany. There are things which we can very well let them have with advantage to both of us that no way, either as raw material or after manufacture, can be of benefit to Germany. For example hardware, cotton, electric apparatus, soda, cotton-seed oil for manufacturing margarine, which goes to England except 10 per cent consumed here, lubricating gas and other mineral oils, tanning material, turpentine. It is said for instance that three or four shiploads of gas [and] oil would have relieved the coal situation to such an extent that Holland would have been able to use greater strength versus Germany during the negotiations which led to the agreement mentioned in my 1449, October 7.1

Germany undoubtedly is playing easy with Holland at the moment and deriving advantage from the campaign against Great Britain and ourselves.

  1. Ante, p. 960.
  2. Not printed; see telegram No. 1643, Nov. 16, post, p. 1145.