Admiral William D. Leahy, Chief of Staff to the Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy, to the Secretary of State

My Dear Mr Secretary: The Joint Chiefs of Staff have considered the proposal of the Swedish Government, referred to in your memorandum of 22 November 1944,73 to ship supplies into German-occupied Norway for the relief of the civilian population.

From the military point of view, the Joint Chiefs of Staff advise that they consider that this proposal, as well as any other for the relaxation of the economic blockade, should be opposed by the U.S. Government.

Our economic warfare policy, as well as a considerable portion of our main military effort, has been directed toward the weakening and eventual destruction of the German economic potential for waging war. At the present time there are increasing signs that the internal economy of Germany is approaching a critical stage, particularly with respect to food. The Joint Chiefs of Staff feel that approval of the present proposal would establish a precedent for relief in enemy occupied Europe, which would be followed by demands for similar relief in other areas supported by equally compelling humanitarian considerations. It would be difficult, if not impossible, to refuse these additional requests once an exception were made. The provision of such civilian relief in Axis-controlled areas on a substantial scale would directly or indirectly benefit the enemy and might well serve to prolong the war.

A further consideration is that satisfying the demands for civilian relief through the blockade would almost certainly create demands for the diversion of Allied shipping, as well as neutral shipping, and the use of other resources needed for the prosecution of the war.

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The Joint Chiefs of Staff perceive no objection, from the military point of view, to the Swedish proposal to evacuate the Norwegian refugees to Sweden.

Sincerely yours,

For the Joint Chiefs of Staff:
William D. Leahy
  1. Not found in Department files.