The Secretary of State to the Secretary of War (Stimson)1

Policies Relating to Civilian Supplies for Liberated Areas

My Dear Mr. Secretary: Because responsibility and authority in an area liberated from Axis domination will rest with the military authorities until liberation is completed and in some instances for some little time thereafter, the American Government must look to the War Department and Navy Department on the American side, not only for military victory, but also, to the extent of American participation, for the effective handling of civilian affairs in liberated areas which is a matter of deepest concern to the State Department.

I believe that it is desirable to express at this time the views of the State Department relative to civilian supplies for areas liberated and to be liberated from Axis domination. I hope that these views may be of assistance to you in discussions with the military authorities of other nations concerned with ours in operations in such areas, and in the estimating of requirements and planning the shipment of civilian supplies by the War Department.

Policies governing payment for such supplies by the recipient countries will be worked out as rapidly as practicable, but I feel that questions relating to payment should not delay or affect the estimating of requirements or the shipment of supplies in accordance with the broad policies here indicated.

The considerations which the State Department believes are of paramount importance are as follows:

The total defeat of the Axis forces is the immediate objective and, obviously, steps essential to that end must first take place in all planning.
At the same time, relief and economic assistance for the peoples who have been under Axis domination is necessary not only from a [Page 302] military point of view to the extent that such relief and assistance can preserve order, economic stability and cooperation behind the lines, thus facilitating military operations, but, in the event of a sudden collapse of the enemy, to prevent chaotic economic conditions in the liberated areas—a danger which would be especially grave in Europe. Any such conditions would so retard the economic recovery of the areas concerned as to have serious adverse effect on the economy of all the United Nations.
In connection with actual relief supplies, such as food, fuel, medical and sanitary supplies, clothing, blankets and the like, the State Department believes that
consumable goods should not be made available in the military period in excess of what it will be possible subsequently to keep available through imports or indigenous production. It will be essential, therefore, to weigh estimates of over-all requirements against probable available world supplies, so that in planning for the needs of one country the future needs of that country and all other countries liberated and to be liberated will be taken into account;
the people of a liberated area, other than an enemy area, should not, except when prevented by actual military operations, have less under Allied military control than was available in the area when under Axis occupation during the period immediately prior to liberation;
in every liberated area, it is essential that there be prompt and equitable distribution of indigenous food supplies and the importation of such supplemental supplies as may be necessary in order to assure a minimum diet that is nutritionally sound. A more generous diet would be desirable wherever food supplies and shipping permit. So far as may be practicable, food to be imported should be in accordance with the food habits and needs of the different areas, even though this may result in different amounts or a different composition of rations available in different countries.
The State Department believes that it is essential not merely to give relief to alleviate suffering, but also to help the peoples of liberated areas to help themselves. This economic assistance should be commenced at the very earliest possible moment consistent with military operations. In addition to the reasons outlined above, the Department feels that this policy will lessen the demoralization attendant upon a people living on relief. Furthermore, to the extent that the peoples can meet their own needs, the demand against shipping and the drain upon supplies from the United States will be lessened.
Because of its vital effect on distribution of relief and its fundamental role in economic recovery, the State Department is concerned with the prompt restoration of the transport facilities in each liberated area. From a military point of view, much of a country’s transportation system may have to be restored for military purposes. The State Department believes, however, that in addition, it is of utmost urgency that efforts be made from the beginning to restore to reasonable effectiveness all methods of transportation essential to the civilian economy and that provision, therefore, should be made for [Page 303] the early importation of repair machinery, spare parts and transportation equipment. Similar attention should be given to the prompt repair of public utilities such as water, power and light.
Of almost equal urgency is assistance to agriculture and fishing for the local production of food so as to increase available resources and diminish the need of imports. The State Department believes that the importation of seeds, fertilizer, pesticides and agricultural tools or other equipment should be so planned as to be available for the first planting following liberation.
Of utmost importance also is assistance to local industries which can produce articles or raw materials desired by the military forces, or relief supplies, equipment or raw materials which otherwise would have to be imported. Such assistance should be undertaken just as soon as military operations will permit. If any question arises as to the economic soundness of aiding a particular industry, it is urged that the opinion of the State Department in the premises be sought. It may also be advisable to give assistance to certain industries to enable them to produce surpluses for export to the United Nations in accordance with production programs approved in Washington.

The Department contemplates that assistance to local industries shall consist of such repairs or raw materials as are needed to permit an industry to resume operations or to increase production. It does not contemplate reconstruction or new construction except such new construction as may be entirely incidental to some repair undertaking.

The State Department believes it is essential in estimating requirements and planning shipments of supplies to liberated areas that adequate provision be made for items needed in this assistance to local industries.

A substantial time factor is involved in the procurement of many items which will be required in liberated areas. In order that advance estimates of requirements can be revised promptly and actual needs met as effectively as possible, the State Department believes that as rapidly as any part of an area is liberated there should enter the field for revising, preparing or screening estimates of requirements technical experts competent to assess relief needs and requirements for the repair of transport facilities and utilities and the restoration of agriculture, fishing and the industries indicated.

In conclusion, I want to emphasize again the view of the State Department that it is of the utmost political and economic importance that both relief and economic assistance be undertaken promptly from the very commencement of liberation and that the estimating of requirements and the shipment of supplies be planned accordingly.

I am addressing a similar letter to the Secretary of the Navy.

Sincerely yours,

Cordell Hull
  1. The same, mutatis mutandis, on the same date to the Secretary of the Navy (Knox).