Memorandum by the Chief of the Eastern Hemisphere Division ( Labouisse ) to the Director of the Office of Wartime Economic Affairs ( Taft )

Mr. Taft: As you doubtless know, there has been considerable confusion on the subject of relief shipments through the blockade to occupied territories. The British have been, and still are, favoring [Page 253] and enforcing a strong blockade policy. This Government has gone along with the British and FEA3 has supported the British position. However, there have been so many people dealing with the matter on our side, that it is difficult to determine exactly what is the official US position. I consider it most important that the US and British views be and remain coordinated. There has been quite a tendency on the part of persons and agencies seeking to make shipments through the blockade to say that it is the British and not the US which is maintaining the blockade.

Under Departmental Order 12184 certain relief problems are made the responsibility of SWP.5 I understand that the Under Secretary’s office is also most interested in this matter generally. EH6 is interested in the blockade enforcement aspects. EUR7 has definite interests also, as has LA.8

In addition to the various State Department interests, FEA has a legitimate right to be heard, both the Blockade Division in Bill Stone’s office9 and the Liberated Areas Division.

I think it most important that we reach a determination as to the US view, and to this end I suggest that you arrange to call a meeting of all the interested parties. As soon as this is done, it presumably will be in order to talk to the British. I am somewhat at a loss on the latter point, however, in view of the airgram which was sent by the Department under date of January 8 to London.10 I am attaching the green of that airgram together with the yellow of London’s reply, being telegram no. 875 of January 31.11 From these telegrams it appears that the matter is being taken up with the British in London, but I am not sure that the matter has been cleared with FEA, or that all aspects of the matter have been considered on the US side.

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In addition to the just mentioned telegrams, I am attaching memorandum prepared by Mr. Berle under date of January 3112 which relates to this subject. This matter requires urgent attention and you may wish to raise it at the Policy Committee meeting. I should like to emphasize, however, that FEA should be consulted before any final action is taken.

In the latter connection, Win Riefler13 has suggested that Dingle Foot, MEW’s14 Parliamentary Secretary, be invited to come over from London in an effort to coordinate the British policy on relief shipments with ours.

Henry R. Labouisse, Jr.
  1. Foreign Economic Administration.
  2. Order for the reorganization of the Department of State; see Department of State Bulletin, January 15, 1944, p. 45.
  3. Special War Problems Division.
  4. Eastern Hemisphere Division.
  5. Office of European Affairs.
  6. Liberated Areas Division.
  7. William T. Stone, Director of the Special Areas Branch, Foreign Economic Administration.
  8. Airgram 38 (not printed), transmitted copies of letters from officials of the Belgian Red Cross and the French Committee of National Liberation requesting trans-blockade of relief shipments to their countries, and proposed a reply by the Department which was to be submitted to British authorities for comment. In this reply, the Department’s receptivity to any practical plan for relief was emphasized, but doubts were expressed concerning the good faith of the German Government in implementing such a program; assurance was given, however, that the entire question was under constant consideration. (840.48/6370a)
  9. Not printed.
  10. Not printed. In this memorandum Assistant Secretary Adolf A. Berle recorded a conversation he had had with representatives of the “Food for Freedom” organization. This group asked for an authoritative statement by the Government of the real situation regarding the possibilities of a food relief program for German-occupied Europe. Mr. Berle assured them that the blockade policy was being reexamined but he added that he could not say what the results of that examination would be. (740.00112 E W1939/10072½)
  11. Winfield Riefler of the Foreign Economic Administration, and Special Assistant to the Ambassador in the United Kingdom.
  12. British Ministry of Economic Warfare.