File No. 659.119/167

The Chargé in Denmark ( Grant-Smith) to the Secretary of State


1763. For War Trade Board from Hurley:

This report is necessarily first impression but is result of interviews, observations, and some study.

1. General conditions. All outward signs show Denmark not suffering. General prosperity obvious, from shops well stocked with necessities and luxuries and well patronized, from gay life of city, [Page 1296]and from appearance of a populace well clothed and fed. Card systems authorize liberal rations of sugar, cards allow 11/10 pounds per week per person. Shops sell loaf sugar at 8 cents per pound. The Government with radical majority being herewith [sic] organized relieves distress of unemployment whenever occurring. New conditions relieve unemployment by requiring more man power, that is, wood and turf cutting. Easier to live in Copenhagen than in New York or London, Christiania, or Stockholm.

2. Chief need is coal and oil. Need for coal not so great as pictured because of restrictions inaugurated, employment of substitutes and voluntary decrease in ordinary use due to high cost produced by high freights. Though allowed to import at first 100,000 tons, and now 150,000 tons per month from Great Britain, Denmark actually took in first ten months during 1917 an average of only 68,470 tons per month of this allowance, thus showing that scarcity and industrial curtailment are not due to Allied restrictions. Due partly to preference of shipowners for more profitable business, partly to delays caused by unusual weather and by other obstructions which are removable. In same period Denmark imported 53,140 tons per month from Germany. Total import from Britain and Germany, May to October, 1917, was 139,364 per month and from Britain alone 66,821 per month. Compare amount of coal actually imported with amount of tonnage claimed to be needed for this trade.

Effect of coal shortage is greatly diminished in Norway and Sweden by use of power from rivers. This is also case in some localities in Denmark, power coming by cable from Swedish rivers. Power from Sweden furnishes cheap light and power to Hellerup, a suburb of Copenhagen, while Copenhagen, burning coal, is compelled to restrict service. If materials for cables and plants can be spared by the United States, Danish use of coal, and ships to carry it, might be reduced by extending use of electric power, and Sweden therefrom given power to exchange for Denmark’s products.

3. Shortage of gasoline, oil, and lubricants is acute and disturbing, particularly lack of fuel oil for Diesel motors to operate provincial electric light and water works. Almost complete substitution of horse for motor-driven vehicles is obvious. Increasing domestic demand for horses caused therefrom is created, and fodder is found somehow. Noted that Denmark obtained from Germany enough gasoline to supply machines for Christmas-New Year holiday period; and that some gasoline is being bought regularly.

4. Fodder and fertilizer shortage is acute, but threatened slaughtering of cattle has not taken place on large scale and probably will not. Estimated that head of swine has again been reduced 50 per cent to about 700,000. Though fattening is difficult, substitutes for usual food are being found.

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5. Danes not yet drained of exportable products and not ever likely to suffer severely, because of precautions taken and of exceptional organization especially in agriculture. They dislike threatened disappearance of era of prosperity and will try to prevent it on basis of maintaining friendship. Friendship of people can probably be maintained by making arrangements for spreading knowledge, possibly through press, of America’s viewpoint and especially America’s own sacrifices. Even cooperation in economy might be agitated and secured. This is especially desirable to counteract German propaganda among people who do not realize that America takes the war seriously and that they live in greater ease than do Americans themselves. Strongly recommended that bulletins containing significant American news be cabled daily, as mail takes six weeks and Danish papers print little from the United States of America. Statements and conclusions believed to be correct. American propaganda deemed of special importance. William H. Gale, American Consul General. Hurley.