File No. 600.119/333

The Exports Council to the Danish Legation 1


As a result of the cumulative effect of military destruction and consumption, diversion of manhood from production, the failure of harvest in various quarters, the destruction by submarines and the isolation of certain markets by belligerent lines, the Allies are now in need of larger supplies of foodstuffs and materials from the United States than our production affords.

Even the endeavors of American people to increase production and to curtail consumption to the utmost degree still leaves a deficiency in the supply of many commodities essential to those engaged with us against the Central Empires.

It is obviously the prime duty of the United States to first furnish food and supplies to the Allies and for this purpose the American people are undertaking the utmost endeavor and self-sacrifice. Therefore, for the United States to undertake the supply of neutrals it must mean in many commodities alternatively either a deprivation of the Allies, further sacrifice upon the part of the American people, or a diversion of labor and productivity from the necessities of war.

The war has, however, been entered upon by the American people not for any national gain, but in the hope that through the sacrifice of its manhood and resources, the integrity of neutral nations can be established free from jeopardy and beyond this, every sense of humanity and uninterrupted friendship gives the American people the greatest concern in the well-being of the people of Denmark.

In consequence it is believed that the American people will undertake further sacrifice and more extraordinary endeavors to increase their exportable balance. Nevertheless, it is but fair that the people of Denmark should exchange services of equal value in promoting the well-being of the people of the United States. Furthermore, it would seem proper that the sacrifices of the American people should not be directly or indirectly turned to the advantage of the enemy by the people of Denmark. Therefore, in order to secure such arrangements as a safeguard that the sacrifices of the American [Page 909] people shall not have been in vain, it is hoped that the following notes will obtain earnest consideration by the Royal Government.

That every possible effort shall have been made by the Royal Danish Government to stimulate production of foodstuffs, sea food and other commodities within their own borders and to have secured all available supplies from other quarters abroad and to have regulated consumption with the utmost rigidity by the elimination of wastes and excess consumption of every character. It can hardly be expected that superlabor and self-denial will be made by the American people unless the most intense efforts in these directions will also be made by the people of Denmark.
In the situation of insufficient supplies for ourselves and the cobelligerents alone, the American people cannot be expected to part with food supplies other than in such a minimum amount as will make up the deficiency in the food values arising after the most intensive endeavors as above. In the determination of this minimum, it is felt that the pre-war imports are no longer a criterion of the necessities because more intense production and the reduced consumption render such calculations wholly inapplicable. In this sense it appears that the food resources of Denmark should be at once calculated as to their value in protein, fat, and carbohydrates, and that the consumption should be calculated upon a standard intake per capita of these fundamental requisites. Upon the completion of these calculations it should be evident the amount of deficiency in each of the three particulars which must be supplied abroad and it will also appear in which of these three great food requisites Denmark produces a surplus. In order to arrive at these calculations the United State Government would be glad to establish an agent to Denmark to confer with the Danish authorities.
In this situation of inadequate supply of commodities it is obvious that the question of price is entirely of secondary importance to the commodities themselves. Furthermore, the possession of these commodities is of the utmost importance in the entire strategy and conduct of the war, and if the American people are to part with their supplies to the prejudice of their own interests and of those people who are enemies of the Central Empires, this service given to the people of Denmark by the people of America cannot be wholly liquidated by the purchase price, and some service in return, either to the American people or to the Allies, of relative value to that afforded by the American people, should be furnished.
It is obvious that the prevention of supplies of all kinds reaching the enemy is of vital interest to the United States, and therefore the shipment of foodstuffs from Denmark to Germany is of the utmost concern to the American people. It appears a right assumption in consequence that the Royal Government will undertake to [Page 910] exclude any suggestion that American protein, fat or carbohydrate or other materials, either directly or indirectly, reach Germany from Denmark.
It is held strongly in the United States that conversion to the enemy’s use is not alone the direct transmission of original American commodities, but also the conversion, directly or indirectly, into other commodities exported to Germany or used in manufacture of such commodities, or substitution directly or indirectly for products of Denmark which may be exported to Germany. A case in point is the import of feeding stuffs from the United States to Denmark and the re-export of protein and fat values to Germany created by their use. And in fact the re-transmission of food values in these circumstances is even greater disaster to American interest than if the original feeding stuffs were sent straightway to the enemy, as it thus means not only that American products but Danish labor are being supplied to the enemy. On the other hand the American people do not wish to depart from the high standards of humanity they have set throughout the war and are disposed to consider any reasonable and effective method by which Danish products, derived from sources not American, are applied to purely humanitarian purposes of adding to the supply for women and children even in the enemy’s territory.
As a result of the large depletion of the food resources of the United States from the 1916 harvest, the United States Government finds that the position of its people between now and the arrival of the new harvest requires its very serious attention and therefore the immediate situation is one requiring instant reduction in the export of supplies to the barest minimum necessitated by the situation of existing stock in Denmark. And in order for the United States Government to cooperate with the Royal Government during this intermediate situation, the United States Government would be glad to have information upon any commodity which it is desired to export:
The stock of these commodities in Denmark;
The amount en route;
The amount owned by Denmark or her nationals in the United States and its location.
The United States Government presents the above basis for consideration by the Royal Government and hopes earnestly that the Royal Government can see its way to fall in therewith, and in the meantime the United States Government wishes to observe:
Pending a mutual arrangement upon the above basis any export of food supplies of any nature to Germany must be taken into account as depleting the supplies available to the people of Denmark and it cannot be expected that such depletion will be considered as part of the deficit to be ultimately supplied from the United States.
  1. The same, mutatis mutandis, on the same date, to the Netherland, Norwegian, and Swedish Legations.