The Secretary-General of the Commission to Negotiate Peace ( Grew ) to the Secretary of State

Sir: I have the honor to acknowledge, on behalf of the American Commission to Negotiate Peace, the receipt of your telegram No. 3595, of October 29th, 4 p.m., regarding proposal No. 97, dated June 6, 1919, received by the Liquidation Commission from the so-called Ukrainian Government, and to enclose herewith a copy of a letter of November 12th which the Commission has received from the Chairman of the Liquidation Commission, together with copies of its enclosures.32 These papers are self-explanatory.

I have [etc.]

J. C. Grew
[Enclosure 1]

The Chairman of the Liquidation Commission ( Parker ) to the Secretary-General of the Commission to Negotiate Peace ( Grew )

Dear Sir: Replying to your letter of October 31st,33 pertaining to Proposal No. 97, dated June 6th, 1919, please be advised:

[Page 785]

1. When the Liquidation Commission arrived in Europe it found that the American Forces in Europe had large stocks of salvaged clothing, including patched boots and shoes, as well as new clothing and subsistence supplies, much of which had very little commercial value, which could be utilized in relieving the urgent requirements of the so-called “Liberated Nations”. Acting under the suggestion made by the President in a letter addressed to me, dated March 24th, copy of which is herewith enclosed, and also in response to urgent representations made by Mr. Hoover and the members of his staff, as well as upon the Commission’s own judgment after careful investigation, the conclusion was reached that it was to the interest of the United States to make sales of such clothing and subsistence stocks on a credit basis to the so-called “Liberated Nations” and the peoples of Eastern Europe, and at the same time in a measure relieve their distress and assist Europe in getting back to normal conditions.

2. At a regular meeting of this Commission held on March 24th, a resolution was adopted providing that all questions of sales of clothing and supplies and international credits coming before the Commission be under the immediate supervision of Senator Hollis, who would be in constant communication with General Krauthoff as to the sales proposed, with Mr. Hoover’s Mission as to their requirements, and the representatives of the United States Treasury on the question of credits.

In pursuance of this resolution, Senator Hollis, as a member of this Commission, was in close and constant touch with Mr. Hoover and the members of his staff, with Mr. Davis, representing the American Treasury, and with representatives of the Peace Commission, as well as representatives of the purchasing nations, and would from time to time report to the Commission as a whole conditions as developed by him and make recommendations of sales to be made, the terms of credit, etc. Senator Hollis has now returned to the United States and your letter must be answered without the benefit of the first-hand information which he doubtless has concerning this sale to the “Ukrailian” partnership.

3. In April the Commission’s representatives were approached by a representative of the so called “Republic of Ukrania” for the purchase of supplies. We told them that we were not in a position to sell to Ukrania as it had not been recognized by the United States. After conference with Mr. Hoover’s organization and others, however, a partnership was formed consisting of Ivan Petrushevich, Voldemar Timoshenko and Simon-Jean Cerf, who made the proposal No. 97, referred to in your letter. This proposal was prepared in May but not acted upon by the Commission until [Page 786] on or about June 6th, having undergone careful investigation in the meantime. The proposal contemplated the purchase of supplies aggregating in value in excess of $11,500,000. While the proposal was accepted, deliveries thereunder were stopped by the Commission, and property of the value of approximately $8,000,000 delivered.

While the sale was made to the “Ukrailian” partnership, that partnership in turn sold to the Republic of Ukrania and took in payment the notes of the Republic of Ukrania, which they passed on to this Commission. A copy of one of these notes you will find enclosed, signed originally by three representatives of the Republic of Ukrania at the Peace Conference, and subsequently reexecuted by Mr. Hyro Sydorenko, a certified copy of whose credentials are now in our files.

4. Incidentally, I beg to advise that a Committee of the Peace Conference who had visited Russia, Esthonia, Ukrania and neighboring Provinces, waited upon this Commission several times, and with great earnestness urged that in the interest of humanity, as well as for business and political reasons, the surplus stocks of the American Army should be sold to these peoples, including the Ukranians. As before stated, however, a considerable portion of the proposed purchase was cancelled and deliveries never made.

Very truly yours,

Edwin B. Parker
[Enclosure 2]

President Wilson to the Chairman of the Liquidation Commission ( Parker )

My Dear Judge Parker: Mr. Hoover has represented to me the critical clothing conditions in the liberated countries. He has also presented to me the fact that the War Department is possessed of enormous stocks, not only of new clothing but of renovated materials. It must be obvious that these renovated materials can have but little value in the world markets and that the unused materials, purchased and manufactured under war conditions, will soon be heavily depreciated by the return of commerce to more normal prices. It would appear, therefore, that it is desirable to liquidate these stocks at the earliest possible moment.

It would appear that but little market could be found for such large quantities of clothing and shoes and similar articles, except through some such relief agency as that conducted by Mr. Hoover, and, to some extent, this agency may be of value in the distribution [Page 787] of the unused material. The sympathetic interest which American people must have in the alleviation of misery amongst the liberated people should lead us to entertain the most sympathetic view as to prices and terms upon which this material is disposed of to them. I would be glad, therefore, if the Commission could accept as its guiding principle in these negotiations the fact that it is not only securing a rapid liquidation of materials that may otherwise prove practically unsalable, but also that it has an opportunity to perform a fine human service by approaching the matter in the most sympathetic mind, and I would be glad if the Commission could see its way to very largely accept Mr. Hoover’s views as to the terms upon which dealings should be undertaken with the liberated peoples.

Faithfully yours,

Woodrow Wilson
  1. One enclosure, which is a copy of a Ukrainian treasury note, is not printed.
  2. Not printed.