Memorandum of Conversation, by the Secretary of State

Participants: Secretary of State Hull; Ambassador of Belgium, Count Robert Van der Straten-Ponthoz; Ambassador of Norway, Mr. Wilhelm Munthe de Morgenstierne; Minister-Counselor of the Netherlands, Baron W. van Boetzelaer; and the Delegate of the French Committee of National Liberation, Mr. Hoppenot

The Ambassadors of Belgium and Norway, the Minister-Counselor of the Netherlands, and the Delegate of the French Committee of National Liberation called at their request and handed me a memorandum on a plan for relief of children in the occupied countries of western Europe, a copy of which is attached.39 The Ambassador of Belgium also handed me a letter (copy attached39) which referred to previous requests of his Government in this field. I thanked them and said that I did not desire my Government to be placed in the wrong position with regard to this question of relief. I said that the British established a blockade before this nation came into the war, that it was a [Page 272] British policy, and that after we came into the war and became an ally, while we have always claimed and exercised the right to express our opinion to the British Government earnestly in favor of relief especially for starving children in the enemy-occupied areas bordering on the Atlantic, the British have overruled our views and we have, of course, accompanied the British in carrying out their blockade policy. I stated that from time to time during the past two years I have brought this up in one way or another with the British but that they have not felt satisfied to take affirmative action. I said that early this year we put up to the British Government a broad proposal for the distribution of food to women and children in the occupied countries of Europe to supplement the inadequate diet allowed them by the enemy. There were certain preliminary conditions relating to cooperation by different governments. Also, the possibility of impending military operations made it necessary to hold this proposal in abeyance although it is Still under consideration. More recently we have urged the British Government to consider with us an alternative proposal by which relief supplies might be sent for distribution through the International Red Cross to women and children in enemy occupied areas accessible from ports outside the zone of military operations. In addition, the International Red Cross has been authorized to approach the German Government for permission regarding certain safeguards to the distribution of 100,000 food parcels per month for a three-months’ trial period to persons held in camps who have until now not benefited by the extension of the privileges of the Geneva Prisoners of War Convention as mutually applied to civilian internees. I said this Government for sometime has been giving every attention to these three proposals and that, therefore, I would not have the impression go out that these three governments and the French Committee, whose representatives called to present the data I have mentioned found it necessary to urge us or request us to give support to the cause of relief. They said they quite understood and would not say anything that would create that impression.40

C[ordell] H[ull]
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  2. Not printed.
  3. An account of this interview is printed in the New York Times, July 1, 1944, p. 2, col. 6.