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anticipate a shortage of tonnage amounting to 10,000 tons for December and 17,000 for January.
The Inter-Allied Chartering Executive cannot see their way to assign ships definitely to make up this shortage and we are instructed to enquire whether the United States Government can assist.
I am sure that the situation in which the Relief Commission finds itself is already being fully represented to you by the Commission's officers here, but it seems desirable that we should make clear that, in the present general tonnage position, the I.A.C.E. cannot be relied on to supply the deficit in the Commission's programme.
I shall be glad of any information or discussions which would tend to an understanding between the Shipping Board and the I.A.C.E. for a joint tonnage programme for this important work, as I feel that there is at present some danger of duplication and confusion between the Commission's officers in London and here in this matter. Believe me [etc.]
File No. 763.72/7967
The Special Representative (House) to the Secretary of State
[Received December 5, 1917, 10.40 a. m.] 2850. The following resolutions of the Inter-Allied Conference will appear in the French press on Wednesday morning:
The Allies declare that they will give priority to all supplies intended for the provisioning of the Belgians and the population of the French invaded territory on the basis of the programme of the Committee for the Provisioning of Belgium as it was drawn up in the course of conference held at London between the Committee for the Provisioning of Belgium and the British Government. They guarantee the tonnage necessary for the execution of this programme, taking into consideration such ships as the Committee for the Provisioning of Belgium at present disposes of and those which it may procure in the future either directly or by the aid of the Allied Governments.
* Printed in full in Foreign Relations, 1917, Supplement 2, vol. II, p. 995.
File No. 855.48/686
[Received December 23, 2.30 a. m.] 8050. For Hoover. Comes from Poland:
57. Following telegram to Clemenceau displays financial situation which is absolutely desperate ... I urge that you secure Administration to represent to Great Britain the feeling of people of United States in respect to relief and the necessity of England's putting the financial arrangements in order.
Monsieur Clemenceau, President du Conseil des Ministres, Paris: On November 23 the French Minister of Finance after a conference with representatives of the Commission for Relief in Belgium and Northern France and the Belgian Minister of Finance, in accordance with the suggestion of the United States Government, agreed to finance the European requirements of the French relief amounting to £700,000 monthly and, conditionally upon similar action by British Government, agreed to provide a further £750,000, being one-half of the funds necessary for the European portion of the cost of Belgian relief. A telegram was thereupon dispatched to the Ambassador of France in London describing the attitude of the French Government and asking him to request the British Government to undertake their portion of the European cost of the Belgian relief. At the same time, on account of the impossibility of obtaining any guarantees of credits for meeting the expenditure in Holland of the relief work, the French Government authorized the director of the relief to negotiate a loan in Holland amounting as subsequently determined to 60,000,000 guilders and agreed to deposit French Treasury bonds to secure same, and invited Great Britain to join with the French Government and the Belgian Government in a similar authorization and undertaking. Although the desperate situation of the Relief has been presented to Foreign Office and Treasury in numerous documents and statements, and although action has been urged upon them by Crosby, representative of United States Treasury, no action whatever has been forthcoming, nor is there at the moment any indication of prompt action which is required on the part of British Government to save the relief from actual interruption because of lack of funds both in Holland and the United Kingdom. It has been shown to the British Government, and these facts are now being presented to you, that expenditures in Holland amount to from six to seven million florins monthly. These expenditures represent the payment of certain freights and insurances which cannot be paid elsewhere, the purchase of from five to ten thousand tons of most valuable native Dutch products, the cost of ụnloading supplies in Rotterdam and shipping same into Belgium and France. Funds available in Holland for these purposes estimated will last only until 1st January. Failing to obtain further foreign credits, relief will absolutely cease and no shipments of food can be made into the occupied territories after that date. In the United Kingdom since December 15 the Relief has been financed solely by virtue of what would be overdraft generously accorded by Bank Belge with the stipulation that account their own_financial requirements same must be repaid in full not later than December 31. Overdraft now amounts to £500,000 and by end of month estimated will reach approximately 800,000. Owing to this critical situation and to failure of British Government to authorize loan negotiations, director cannot take steps which were recommended by French Government towards effecting a Holland loan. Growing out of failure of British Government to take action to preserve the Relief we have made definite demands on the British: (i) that they deposit to credit of Commission for Relief at once, to cover overdraft with Bank Belge and provide funds for month January, £2,500,000; (2) arrange a credit of 6,000,000 guilders to Relief Commission, Hólland; (3) we again insistently urged action regarding permanent loan of guilders in Holland; (4) we urged official concurrence of British Government to request of French Government by cable of the 25th November. At meeting with representatives of Relief Commission you assured us of complete accord and support of French Government in our efforts to place financing shipping arrangements and food supply on a permanent basis. If these matters of finance are not arranged within the next few days, the actual existence of your people will be jeopardized. Under these circumstances we earnestly beg the most active intervention of the French Government with the British Government to insist on the necessary action being taken and we also request that the French Government, pending action of the British Government, place at our disposal at once as a temporary advance the sum of £1,000,000. Poland, Director Relief Commission.
File No. 855.51/17a
WASHINGTON, January 7, 1918,6 p. m. 6187. For Crosby from Leffingwell: 1
No. 49. We agreed to increase to $9,000,000 per month the advances to Belgian Government for relief, and France agreed to increase to $6,000,000 per month her dollar contributions for Belgian Relief requirements here, with the understanding that entire $15,000,000 would be required and used to cover purchases here, and that England and France would furnish the funds required for European expenditures, including freight, insurance, and purchases in Holland, amounting in all to approximately £2,260,000 per month. Hoover understands that the above plan was ratified at the Paris conference, and that the European expenditures would be provided by England and France and by the use of a portion of the 500,000,000
* Russell C. Leffingwell, Assistant Secretary of the Treasury.
franc loan made to Belgium by England and France. I understand, however, that this arrangement has not become effective so far as England's participation is concerned, because of delay on part of British Treasury. Consequently, the London office for Belgian Relief is pressing New York office for permission to use dollar credits to repay freight and insurance advanced by Belgian Government in pounds and guilders. I feel that freight payable in pounds or guilders, although contracted for here, is not an American expenditure and that dollar advances should not be so employed. Hoover agrees and informs us that the total dollar advances are required for American purchases, and we see no reason why this Government should supply funds for European expenditures which were to be met by England and France. We wish to assist in Belgian relief, but must know what England is going to do. Suggest you get situation clarified and advise us accordingly.
File No. 855.48/695
PARIS, January 10, 1918.
[Received January 11, 2.30 p. m.] For Secretary of Treasury:
No. 40. Referring your No. 49. Belgian Relief situation made subject of special agreement signed by Bonar Law and Klotz in Paris during meetings of Council. French Treasury was willing to accept its proportion of whole of increase asked for, British Treasury desired further investigation because Belgian Relief requirements have been more than doubled in last two months as compared with earlier record. Absolute engagement for £1,500,000 per month is made by two Governments with understanding that if applications made by Relief in London show need for larger amounts the Governments will endeavor to obtain them. There has been some difficulty also on the part of Great Britain in finding necessary amounts of florins covering large sums spent there. Dutch exchange now very unfavorable to Great Britain. Belgian Relief and Belgian Government officials have been much disturbed, but have advised them to work under existing agreement which does not positively preclude obtainment of whole of sum asked for of British and French Governments. In the meantime Great Britain is endeavoring to obtain loans in Holland to cover this and other demands for florins. We have done all that we undertook to do and are no longer involved in matter save through general interest in
situation. While present difficulties being surmounted, it might be desirable to permit small amounts urgent freight accounts to be paid from our funds, if this is not followed by increased total from us.
File No. 855.48/705
WASHINGTON, February 13, 1918. MY DEAR MR. COUNSELLOR: On several occasions recently the Spanish-Dutch Committee for Belgian Relief have drawn the attention of the British Government to the policy adopted by the German authorities charged with the distribution of native food-stuffs of giving preferential treatment to Belgians working in their interest. The Committee urge that strong measures should be taken.
The attitude recently adopted by the British Government was to sanction imports of food-stuffs only on condition that equivalent native supplies were controlled and distributed by the relief organization, and in certain cases this was accepted by the German authorities. In practice, however, the imports of food-stuffs take place on the simple guarantee that they will not be requisitioned.
The British Government now propose to protest strongly against the action of the German authorities in using the distribution of native food-stuffs as a means of forcing the Belgian population to work for them and to intimate that unless this policy is immediately abandoned, and native food-stuffs equitably distributed, the British authorities will be compelled to revert to their former practice of refusing to sanction imports of food-stuffs of any kind, unless undertaking was given that the relief organization would be permitted to control and distribute equivalent native supplies.
The British Government desire to know whether the Government of the United States will support them in this action. I should be glad if you could let me have an early reply. Believe me [etc.]
File No. 855.48/705
The Counselor for the Department of State (Polk) to the Com
mercial Adviser of the British Embassy (Crawford)
WASHINGTON, February 19, 1918. MY DEAR SIR RICHARD: I have received your letter of February 13 with regard to the policy adopted by the German authorities charged