File No. 855.48/175

The Minister in Belgium (Whitlock) to the Secretary of State

No. 46]

Sir: Referring to previous correspondence in regard to exception from requisition by military authorities of foodstuffs in Belgium, I have the honor to transmit enclosed copies and translation of a communication received from the German military authorities in Brussels, [Page 1031] stating that although the agreement relative to the suspension of requisitions did not state that exception was made of the city of Antwerp, such was, however, the intention of the Government.

I have [etc.]

Brand Whitlock

The Chief Administrator for the German Governor General in Belgium (Von Sandt) to the American Minister (Whitlock)

Excellency: I have the honor to reply as follows to the note which your excellency addressed to me on December 23, 1914.

The order of the Governor General issued upon the request of your excellency and of the Spanish Minister on behalf of the Comité National de Secours et d’Alimentation relative to the suspension of military requisitions of flour and wheat until the stock of alimentary products in Belgium should have been determined, and in fixing the 9th of December as the limit of time for this suspension, did not, it is true, specifically except the stocks at Antwerp from this exemption from requisition. However, as a consequence of the conditions of the case the stocks at Antwerp should not share this benefit. The suspension of military requisitions desired by your excellency was designed to enable the Belgian population to gain sufficient time until the Comité National could actively intervene. Your excellency had in mind the suspension of requisitions until an inventory of existing foodstuffs had been made. It was found expedient to fix December 9 as the time limit because that would not be prejudicial to a general investigation and because it was possible that on account of the number of materials, etc., a determination of the actual existence of foodstuffs would have been seriously delayed. The stocks of foodstuffs at Antwerp was not affected by these measures. Their character differed essentially from that of provisions existing in the rest of the country. As a matter of fact, Antwerp is a world port where merchandise of all kinds is not destined to the feeding or the use of Belgium alone, but for distribution throughout different countries from this important economic center. It must be added that the merchandise in Antwerp belongs only in part to Belgians or to dependencies of belligerent nations, being for the rest the property of German citizens or their allies or of neutral subjects.

These facts alone prove that the measure concerning the feeding of the civil population should not comprise the foodstuffs on the Antwerp docks and that a doubled charge for food has not been made in the city of Antwerp.

Further, the stocks at Antwerp were from October 18, subjected to a general attachment which prevented their being transported outside of Antwerp. Unlike foodstuffs, the circulation of which was free in Belgium, these stocks of Antwerp were already subject to a measure which affected owners of all merchandise.

The protests of President Franck against the measure taken November 30 relative to transport to Germany, and the special seizure of cereals which seemed to belong to the city of Antwerp, appear, therefore, to be unfounded.

I have [etc.]

D. v. Sandt