The Assistant Director of the American Relief Administration (Herter) to the Acting Chief of the Division of Russian Affairs, Department of State (Poole)

Dear Poole: I am enclosing herewith copy of the message which was sent this afternoon to our London office for transmission to Maxim Gorky in Petrograd. I hope that it meets with your approval in its final shape.

I am also enclosing the original letter addressed by Mr. Hoover to Secretary Hughes which I brought with me this morning and which I inadvertently carried off again. I presume that you will want it for your records.

Sincerely yours,

Christian A. Herter
[Page 807]

The Chairman of the American Relief Administration (Hoover) to the London Office of the American Relief Administration

For Brown.21 Wish following cable transmitted quickly to A.R.A. representative in Esthonia for retransmission to Gorky in Petrograd. If there is no telegraphic communication he could ask Bolshevik agents to transmit it. Also if any difficulty getting it through he can publish in Riga press in any event as soon as transmitted please issue to Riga press and advise us.

[“] Maxim Gorky, Petrograd: I have read with great feeling your appeal to Americans for charitable assistance to the starving and sick people of Russia more particularly the children. To the whole American people the absolute sine qua non of any assistance must be the immediate release of the Americans now held prisoner in Russia and adequate provision for administration. Once these steps have been taken the American Relief Administration a purely voluntary association and an entirely unofficial organization of which I am chairman, together with other cooperating charitable American organizations supported wholly through the generosity of the American people have funds in hand by which assistance for the children and for the sick could be undertaken immediately. This organization previously during the last year intimated its willingness to undertake this service as one of simple humanity disengaged absolutely from any political social or religious motives. However for obvious administrative reasons it has been and is compelled to stipulate for certain undertakings. Subject to the acceptance of these undertakings we are prepared to enter upon this work. We are today caring for three and one half millions of children in ten different countries and would be willing to furnish necessary supplement of food clothing and medical supplies to a million children in Russia as rapidly as organization could be affected. The administrative conditions that they are obliged to make are identically the same as those that have been established in every one of the twenty three countries where operations have been conducted one time or another in care of upwards of eight million children.

The conditions are that the Moscow Soviet authorities should give a direct statement to the Relief Administration representatives in Riga (A) that there is need of our assistance, (B) that American representatives of the Relief Administration shall be given full liberty to come and go and move about Russia, (C) that these members shall be allowed to organize the necessary local committees and local assistance free from governmental interference, (D) that they shall be given free transportation of imported supplies with priority over other traffic that the authorities shall assign necessary buildings [Page 808] and equipment and fuel free of charge, (E) that in addition to the imported food clothing and medicines the children and the sick must be given the same rations of such local supplies as are given to the rest of the population, (F) that the Relief Administration must have the assurance of non-interference of the government with the liberty of all of its members.

On its side the Relief Administration is prepared as usual to make a free and frank undertaking first that it will within its resources supply all children and invalids alike without regard to race creed or social status; Second that its representatives and assistants in Russia will engage in no political activities.

I desire to repeat that these conditions are in no sense extraordinary but are identical with those laid down and readily accepted by the twenty three other governments in whose territories we have operated.”

Herbert Hoover
  1. Walter Lyman Brown, Director for Europe of the American Relief Administration.