File No. 124.55/6

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


256. Your No. 40, February 16, and undated message transmitted by Langhorne on 25th. Department desires to be informed whether [Page 645] agreement provides for withdrawal of whole relief staff on the same terms as Legation in case of necessity. If, as it seems, you are being treated with consideration, and if your voice in relief matters has same respect from German authorities as other ministers, Department thinks it desirable for you to remain for the present.

Hoover and his colleagues outside of Belgium are of the opinion that staff of mixed neutrals forming part of Commission for Relief in Belgium could not successfully carry on the relief, although it would no doubt be more agreeable to Germans and some Belgians. They, therefore, hold the view strongly that in the ultimate interests of the Belgians any change of staff made in Belgium should involve its complete change to a single nationality appointed by and under the direct patronage of some particular government; and they hold that because of intrinsically more influential position of Netherland Government, the possibility of Dutch supplies, and the high esteem of the Dutch people held in America, thus securing moral and charitable support here, and the ability of the Netherland Government to furnish civil servants to undertake the work, that such a course should be pursued. Hoover has been informed that this course has been approved by the British Government in case the Americans must retire, and consequently that the British are committed to continue the support of the relief. It was to force this issue that Hoover gave his former direction, and he believes this course is in the best interest of the Belgian and French people, although it may cause a few days stoppage of imports from Holland if the change should become necessary, which in any event does not arise for the present. In case withdrawal of American staff from Belgium and its replacement by Dutch, Hoover proposes to carry on outside operations until satisfactory arrangements are effected to relieve him and his colleagues.