Hopkins Papers

Memorandum by the British Treasury Representative (Brand)1

What is fundamental to us as regards Stage 22 is that, as stated in Remac 638,3 the U.S. Administration shall act in such a manner as to recognize the need for a reasonable measure of recovery of U.K. civilian economy and the progressive restoration of U.K. export trade. It should be easy to explain to the American people the justice of such a claim, but it requires explanation first to the authorities at the top, and then to the people, and through the people to Congress. The only men who can put our case broadcast to the American people are (1) the President, or (2) the Prime Minister. Presumably it must be done by the President.
Following are a few notes on the British position which indicate to my mind that it would not be difficult to put forward a very compelling case.
For the British people the end of the German war must be the end of the war which really matters to them. It will be the end of danger at their doors, the end of bombs on England, the end of blackout. They will still be at war, but they will feel more like what the American people feel now than what they have felt during the last five years.
After five years of danger, incessant effort and privation, endless blackout, there must be some let up if the British population is to go on making a great effort; some variation in food, some more clothes, and boots and shoes, some relaxation of effort, some more home life for women, some more holidays. If the U.K. is to continue to fight the Japanese war, as it must, and to play its heavy part in the occupation of Europe, it cannot abandon everything, as now, to the war effort. It must begin to pay more attention to how to pay its way, how to feed and clothe its people, out of its own resources. It must increase its civilian production, it must begin to restore its lost export trade.
Consider what the alternative would be. The British people, with the Dominions, is the only nation which has been in the front line from the first to the last day of the German war. It has expended itself in the effort, and unlike any other of the United Nations, has burdened [Page 160] itself for a generation or more. Beyond that, and to a greater extent than any other nation, it has endangered for the transition period after the war, its actual means of livelihood. Now unlike any other European nation, except perhaps the Dutch, it must continue to fight the Japanese war, but much more than that it must face the heaviest burden in occupying Europe. It could not be that the liberated countries, the neutrals, even Germany and Italy, should all be at peace and all turn to the arts of peace, all restore their civilian life, all restore their export trade, while the British people, having fought from first to last, having conquered their enemies and liberated their friends, staggering under the burden of this great effort, and with the heavy task of occupying Europe and keeping up their production of all munitions, should remain sunk in total war, mobilized almost to the full, daily adding to their foreign debt, their export trade still languishing, nothing but extreme austerity and still greater trials for many years to come before them. Yet that would be almost the case if the theory of the American Military authorities were to rule, and only such war supplies be found under Lend Lease as it was impossible for the U.K. to make itself. Clearly to hold up such a view to the British people at the end of the German war would be to risk a political explosion.
That the American people should be asked explicitly to continue Lend Lease in order that the U.K. may be able to divert capacity to civilian production, whether for home consumption or for export, is undoubtedly, as Remac 638 says, “hard political doctrine for the President to put over”. It can to my mind only be put over by some very broad statement by the President of the true position, but this never will and never can be done unless the President is fully seized of the true picture.
  1. This memorandum was probably given to Hopkins as a follow-up to Churchill’s telegram to Hopkins of August 10, 1944, ante, p. 16.
  2. The phrases “stage ii” and “phase ii” refer to the furnishing of lend-lease aid in the period between the surrender of Germany and the surrender of Japan. For background on Anglo-American discussions on this subject, see Foreign Relations, 1944, vol. iii, pp. 31 ff.; Hancock and Gowing, pp. 515 ff.; Hall, pp. 434–447.
  3. Not printed.