The British Prime Minister ( Churchill ) to President Roosevelt 18

641. Your telegram No. 501.19

Para. 1. The proposals of your government for a limited relief scheme were put forward by Mr. Riefler on March 29th and have been most earnestly considered by my colleagues and by myself. I share your desire to do everything possible to ameliorate the lot of the peoples of the occupied countries in so far as this is possible without detriment to the war effort. I find it however difficult to accept the view that the maintenance of our blockade policy is likely to hurt our friends more than our enemies.

Para. 2. The whole question seems to me to be governed by the impending military operations for the invasion of Europe. Our experience of the working of the Greek relief scheme has conclusively shown that it causes considerable difficulties for, and imposes restrictions on, our naval and air forces, and these difficulties will increase as new operations are begun. The opening of further channels of importation into Europe at the present moment would, in our view, be wholly incompatible with the naval and military situation which is developing. It would involve not only the granting of safe-conducts for ships to sail to designated ports within the operational zones, but also the preservation of routes of inland transport from those ports [Page 258] to the countries in which the food is to be distributed. It would clearly be impossible to undertake to keep any ports or routes to them open, or to keep intact any railways between now and the end of this year: and if it were possible to give such an undertaking we should thereby give the Germans valuable information as to our military intentions. Any relief action now undertaken would therefore inevitably hamper impending military operations.

Para. 3. Even if military considerations were not decisive there are also grave objections from the blockade point of view. These are being explained in detail to Mr. Winant and I do not think I need trouble you with them, if we are agreed that nothing can be allowed to hamper or interfere with forthcoming operations.20

  1. Copy of telegram obtained from the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library, Hyde Park, N.Y.
  2. See footnote 17. above.
  3. A marginal notation at the end of this document reads: “Referred to Admiral Leahy for possible reference J[oint] C[hiefs of] S[taff]—with President’s comment ‘I don’t know but Prime is right on that.’ “