Paris Peace Conf. 840.48/1

Memorandum of a Conference on European Relief, Held in London, December 10, 1918

Memorandum of a Conference held in London on December 10th at which were present Lord Reading, Sir Joseph Maclay, M. Clementel, M. Boret, and M. Crespi, being a Committee appointed by the Allied [Page 650]Premiers to discuss with Messrs. Hoover and Hurley the proposals of the President relative to European Relief. Mr. Hurley being absent, was represented by Mr. Norman Davis, who also represented the U. S. Treasury, and Mr. J. P. Cotton was present, at the invitation of Mr. Hoover.

After several previous meetings for discussion of the President’s proposals, this final meeting took place on December 10th, at which were present the above-mentioned gentlemen.

After considerable discussion, and after Messrs. Reading, Clementel, and Crespi had presented the views of their respective Governments, Mr. Hoover, on behalf of the American Members, stated that according to their understanding, the views were not far apart and that the President’s plan was accepted in principle, with the exception that a Council with ministerial powers should be set up to perform the functions suggested in the President’s plan, for the Supreme War Council, to determine broad policies in connection with the Relief Problem in Europe. Mr. Hoover also explained that it had never been the contention of the United States that the Relief should be solely an undertaking by the American Government, as evidenced by the President’s proposal.

The Allied Representatives assented to this interpretation, but as nothing specific had been stated regarding that portion of the proposal relating to the use of German tonnage (although, as above indicated, it was indirectly accepted) Mr. Hoover, in order to avoid any misunderstanding, called attention to the President’s proposal regarding the handling of shipping, and specifically mentioned that it was the understanding of the American Representatives that the whole of the President’s views regarding shipping were accepted, and that the only question in relation thereto was the method of approaching the German[s] on the problem. It was agreed that such approach should be made through the Armistice Authorities, with the object, if necessary, of embodying this in a renewal of the Armistice.

Lord Reading specifically abandoned the notion, which he had advanced at previous meetings, that an Allied administrative Board should be created around the Director General of Relief, and it was finally proposed by the American Representatives that the Allied Representatives should draw up a memorandum, for submission to the War Council, expressing agreement with the President’s plan in principle, and embodying the exception above mentioned, they stating that, although they had no authority to accept any alteration in the President’s plan, yet they believed there would be no objection to the proposals as above indicated.

A discussion took place as to the details of administration which the Director General of Relief would erect, and Mr. Hoover outlined [Page 651]the method of a determination of need, taking up existing bodies, plus other bodies which he would create for the purpose of advising the newly erected Council, and that through this expression of need sufficient co-ordination could be obtained as between Allied and Relief supplies.

At previous meetings, M. Clementel had proposed the erection of a complete economic Council controlling all raw material, finance, transportation, and food, and in the discussion at the meeting above referred to, in answer to a specific question, he stated that he moderated his proposals entirely to the problem of dealing with Food as an emergency measure for the period of the Armistice. M. Clementel emphasized the necessity for consolidation of Relief with other European Food problems, and the necessity of this newly erected body supervising all European food, including that of the Allies, to which Mr. Hoover represented that it was, from an American point of view, wholly impossible, and submitted a memorandum indicating the domestic reasons in the United States why this was not feasible.25 Mr. Hoover also submitted a memorandum embracing the views of the American Representatives as to the internal organization of the Directorate General of Relief, embodying the views expressed at the meeting.26

  1. Apparently the first five paragraphs of the statement infra.
  2. Apparently the latter portion of the statement infra, beginning with paragraph “The logical development …”, p. 653.