Memorandum of Conversation, by the Acting Secretary of State

Participants: Mr. Stettinius
Mr. Dingle Foot
Mr. Thorold
Mr. Raynor (present at the latter part of the discussion)

Mr. Dingle Foot accompanied by Mr. Thorold called on me this afternoon at their request.

After a general discussion on economic warfare matters, I took the opportunity of calling to their attention the proposal that small amounts of food be sent through the blockade on ships of the International Red Cross which now call at Marseille for distribution to under-nourished children. Mr. Foot raised various objections to this plan as such, stating categorically that he did not feel the British would accept it. He stressed the point that this would be on such a [Page 264] small scale that it would not do any good and he was apprehensive as to more harm than good resulting from the general hopes which it might arouse throughout occupied Europe. He thought we shouldn’t start a token arrangement of this type in one place without being able to do it generally throughout occupied countries, including Poland. He did say that the British would definitely agree to send food through the blockade for distribution in camps under the supervision of the International Red Cross. He is ready to work out the details of such a plan and I suggested that he arrange to see Messrs. Berle and Keeley30 on this.

He seemed to have some appreciation of the difficult political situation we face in this country on this general problem. He said that he felt both the Swedes and the Swiss were at the point of being willing to have offers made to the Germans through appropriate channels of receiving sizeable numbers of children. He felt the British would be inclined to join with us in pushing this along and that they would also be willing to assist it by being more lenient on navicerts for supplies to both of these neutrals in order to put them in a position to carry it through. Also, he felt that it might help our domestic situation if at the time these neutrals made the offers to Germany, news of this move could be publicly released. I also suggested to them that they discuss this in detail with Mr. Berle and work out a definite procedure.31

  1. James H. Keeley, Jr., Chief, Special War Problems Division.
  2. Mr. Berle reported in a memorandum of June 10 that he had discussed the question with Mr. Foot, who told him that he could not agree to the shipment of additional food via the International Red Cross to occupied territory, that this was a matter that would have to be taken up with the British Cabinet. Mr. Berle replied that “the pressure here, which already had secured unanimous passage of a resolution in Congress and included powerful elements of the Republican Party, plainly would not be satisfied by that. Already the suggestion was being urged that the British and ourselves agree to disagree in matters like this and go our several ways. It was in an effort to meet this situation that we were trying to get a little further with the problem.” (840.48/6605)