Memorandum by Mr. Eldred D. Kuppinger, of the Special War Problems Division

The following were present at a meeting held in Mr. Berle’s office this morning further to discuss the question of relief for civilians in occupied Europe:

  • Mr. Dingle Foot, Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Economic Warfare.
  • Mr. Berle.
  • Mr. Winfield Riefler, Foreign Economic Administration.
  • Mr. G. F. Thorold, Counselor, British Embassy.
  • Mr. W. T. Stone, Director, Special Areas Branch, Foreign Economic Administration.
  • Mr. Eldred D. Kuppinger, Special War Problems Division.

As indicated in a preliminary meeting on Saturday,33 the British authorities are opposed to a broad blockade concession which would permit the distribution of relief supplies among the civilian populations of the occupied countries. Mr. Foot said at that time that he was not clothed with authority to enter into any sort of undertaking on this question which would go beyond the position heretofore taken by the British War Cabinet.

He said, however, that MEW believed that a great deal of pressure now being exerted on both Governments on the feeding question might be removed if the British and American publics were informed of all the steps previously taken with a view to assisting victims of Nazi oppressions and the measures now in effect, which to a limited extent are achieving that result. Moreover, he said he did have authority to agree to certain extensions of the measures now being taken and to a limited blockade concession in respect of relief supplies for persons in concentration and refugee camps.

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Mr. Foot proposed that we agree on the following points without prejudice to such further relief measures as might be agreed upon subsequently by the two Governments.

Shipments of food for distribution to persons in concentration and refugee camps. Such shipments would be made from outside the blockaded area for distribution by Intercross to persons in camps where Intercross had obtained assurances from the Germans that Intercross delegates could distribute supplies and could return later to verify the correct use of such supplies. The concession would be limited to food packaged for individual distribution. He proposed that as evidence of our desire to extend help as soon as possible supplies be sent immediately on the prisoner of war supply ships to be held at Geneva until Intercross is in a position to distribute them. It was agreed that the principle involved would be applicable to all concentration and refugee camps in enemy and enemy-occupied territory, including camps wherein Italian “military internees” are held.
Intra-blockade shipments. Mr. Foot proposed that the present authorized monthly shipments from Sweden to Norway be doubled making a monthly authorized total of 500 tons. Such exports may, as is presently the case, include those of List A.34 It was also proposed that the two Governments examine the possibilities of permitting increased purchases of relief foodstuffs in Switzerland, Spain and Portugal. Such supplies would be intended mainly for France and Belgium. This proposal was agreed to.
Evaluation schemes. Discussions have been going on in London with representatives of the Swedish and Swiss Governments to the end that approaches be made to the German Government to obtain its consent for children to go to Sweden and Switzerland where they could be physically rehabilitated. Some difficulty has been encountered in securing agreement on the manner in which the approaches should be made. Both the Swedes and the Swiss are willing to take the children but neither Government is desirous of making a direct approach to the German Government. The Swedes are particularly hesitant, having been rebuffed before in similar cases. It is likely that as regards Sweden Intercross will be asked to approach the Germans. The Swiss may be willing to make a direct approach, laying down the conditions that children must be selected on the basis of need by the International Red Cross without reference to political background. The question of publicity was discussed. It was considered preferable that no publicity be given to the approaches until the German Government had had a reasonable opportunity to reply.

Mr. Foot said that the Irish Government had already approached the German Government with an offer to take 500 French children. Although the approach was made several months ago no answer has been received. The British propose to suggest to the Irish Government that this approach be renewed.

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At the proper time it is the intention to publish the full story of all measures that have been attempted or put into effect to bring relief to European victims of the war. It is believed, however, that publicity at this time in regard to the evacuation schemes would be premature.

Mr. Foot will send a letter to Mr. Stettinius (which can be made public) outlining the agreement reached on points 1 and 2. At the same time he will send a memorandum (not for publication) outlining the agreement reached on points 1 and 2, and the agreement reached on point 3 and the question of publicity.

  1. June 10.
  2. A list of basic commodities which British blockade authorities allowed the Swedes to import in reasonable quantities from outside the Baltic region. This list was an annex to the Anglo-Swedish War Trade Agreement of 1939, for substance of which see W. N. Medlicott, The Economic Blockade, vol. i (London, His Majesty’s Stationery Office, 1952), pp. 141–152.