The Secretary of State to the Ambassador in France (Wallace)
Washington, January 14, 1920—3 p.m.
103. For Rathbone from Davis.94 Treasury R-159.
- As you are aware British Government in formal communication to State Department some weeks ago urged this Government to join with them in relief of Austria.95 While that communication did not state specifically to what extent British would participate, it did state they would contribute to the extent of their ability, except that with present depreciation of exchange they could not incur commitments requiring dollar disbursements.
- Secretary Glass in formal communication to Ways and Means Committee last week outlined situation, especially in Poland, Austria and Armenia, where conditions are the most critical, and requested Congress to authorize Grain Corporation, with approval of the Secretary of the Treasury, to purchase, sell and deliver for cash or credit food and relief supplies to extent of $150,000,000, and submitted therewith bill which he recommended. On Saturday morning I went before Ways and Means Committee to explain matter more in detail, and found Committee most sympathetic, Chairman of Committee stating that they hoped to get action this week.
- Committee naturally desired to know to what extent British Government would participate in proposed relief. I explained to them the communication received from British Government relative to Austrian relief, from which we take for granted that British will at least supply all tonnage and any relief supplies required by [Page 248] Austria other than food which must be purchased in United States. I further explained that although British have not communicated with us regarding relief to Poland and other peoples of Europe, they have publicly and privately expressed considerable concern regarding conditions in Europe and the necessity for relief, for which they are prepared to do their share.
- While we cannot give any assurances that Congress will grant authority requested, I now have every hope that they will do so very shortly, and I suggest therefore that on account of the necessity of taking immediate action after authority is received, an understanding be arrived at with British conditional upon our obtaining authority to proceed. … Hoover has just informed me that the President authorized Grain Corporation to sell 100,000 tons flour to Poland, and that as Grain Corporation has no authority to supply tonnage on credit they appealed to British to furnish the tonnage, thinking of course that on account of their many statements of a desire to assist in European relief they would gladly comply with the request. They have just now notified him however that they have no tonnage available. I suggest therefore that you communicate at once with British explaining that it is necessary for us to know just what they will do, and that an agreement on their part to do their share will have considerable bearing upon our obtaining the desired legislation and subsequent participation. You might also indicate in your letter that in view of their request that we join them in Austrian relief, and also in view of their public and private expressions regarding necessity of and their willingness to assist in relief of Europe, we have informed Congress of their definite proposal to assist in Austrian relief and that we have no reason to suppose that they would not at least supply all the tonnage required and such other supplies as clothing, etc., which may be available in the United Kingdom for the relief also of Poland and any other sections where conditions are most serious. Please get definite understanding at once as to Austria and if possible Poland.