740.00112 European War 1939/454: Telegram

The Minister in the Netherlands ( Gordon ) to the Secretary of State

254. Department’s 134, October 28, 5 p.m. Thorough inquiry made throughout the week of Government authorities in The Hague and of shipping officials in Amsterdam and Rotterdam seems completely to negative—up to date at least—the quoted statement from the London Embassy concerning the present practice of neutral ships in loading in Rotterdam merchandise destined for the United States.

The shipping officials in question say that their companies have not declined and do not now decline to take shipments—more specifically shipments of German origin—with the thought that the British authorities may not permit them to pass. Some of the shippers state that they take all shipments offered but place German goods on top so that if the British decide to take them the ship will not be long delayed; others take all shipments offered without differentiation as to loading on account of origin.

Several shippers express the opinion that a blockage on German exports would involve so many difficulties for the British authorities that they will hesitate to institute it; others feel that some system for restricting or at least supervising German exports on neutral ships will be forthcoming fairly soon. Some shippers say that their outbound ships are controlled in the Downs but that the delays occasioned thereby have so far been negligible.

To sum up, all shippers agree that so far no measures have been taken by British authorities in Dutch ports or elsewhere (except for the non-vexatious measures referred to in the preceding paragraph) in controlling exports from Dutch ports to the United States or to other neutral destinations.

On the other hand the Department will have noted that the British Board of Trade has issued an order to the effect that as of November 2nd goods imported from certain neutral countries in Europe must be accompanied by a certificate of origin proving that such goods are [Page 805] not of German origin and do not serve any German interests. Also the following item appeared in the London Telegraph of November 2nd:

“Move to stop Nazi exports shipped by neutrals.—Germany is still exporting considerable quantities of goods to neutral countries, particularly to South America. This trade has so far been ignored by the British Ministry of Economic Warfare because the goods are sent through other neutral countries. In many cases, however, the goods could be easily detected and seized to prevent Germany from accumulating foreign exchange. The matter is being discussed in some political quarters and the Government will be asked to make a statement next week.”

Copy to London.