740.00119 EW/4–2445: Telegram
The Acting Secretary of State to the Ambassador in the Soviet Union (Harriman)
942. Following an urgent proposal by the Netherlands Government that a truce be arranged with the German authorities in the Netherlands20 [Page 22] to make possible the supply of desperately needed food and medicine to the starving population of the occupied provinces, the Combined Chiefs of Staff on April 23 authorized the Supreme Commander, Allied Expeditionary Force, in his discretion to undertake any operations and effect any truce arrangements for the purpose of providing relief to the Netherlands which are indicated by the situation and do not prejudice his main operations, provided that in so doing he does not depart from the unconditional surrender policy agreed upon by the United States, Great Britain and the U.S.S.R. and provided further that the Soviet military authorities shall not only be kept fully informed but shall, if they so desire, have military representatives present at any discussions with the German Commander or his representatives.
General Eisenhower has been instructed that in the event he decides to negotiate a truce he shall endeavor to obtain the following conditions:
- That the truce shall be without prejudice to the ultimate unconditional surrender of all German forces in the Netherlands.
- That all German forces in the occupied Netherlands shall cease all active operations including all forms of naval and air activity conducted from that area.
- That the Germans shall freely admit and facilitate the distribution of all forms of relief supplies for the Netherlands population: under arrangements to be agreed upon.
- That the Germans shall refrain from any form of inundation or destruction of capital goods.
- That all political prisoners shall be transferred from prison to accommodations in accordance with the standards of the Geneva Convention.21
- That no further executions of political prisoners shall take place.
- That raids and similar measures shall be discontinued by the security police.
If these conditions are accepted by the German Commander, General Eisenhower is authorized to agree in return: [Page 23]
- That the Allied forces will not advance beyond the “Grebbe Line” (mouth of the river Eems through Amersfoort to Veenendaal to Wageningen on the Rhine) or such other line as may be agreed upon.
- That the Allied forces will cease active operations against the German forces within the occupied Netherlands. This agreement to cease operations shall not apply to Allied operations in Netherlands territorial waters against enemy forces operating from bases outside German occupied Netherlands.
Concert with your British colleague and inform the appropriate Soviet authorities of the foregoing. It should be made clear in this connection that General Eisenhower has been authorized to carry out his instructions without delay.
- The Netherlands Government presented the proposal to the British on April 12, 1945, who in turn reported it to Secretary of State Stettinius. Secretary Stettinius concurred in the idea of a truce and suggested that the matter be put into General Eisenhower’s hands with the necessary discretion for action left to him, but that such action, however, be subject to instructions from the Combined Chiefs of Staff that he not depart from the policy of unconditional surrender agreed to by the United States, United Kingdom, and the Soviet Union and that the Soviet Union be consulted upon any action contemplated. (740.0011 EW/4–1745). For further account of proposals for aiding the Netherlands, see Forrest C. Pogue, The Supreme Command, in the official Army history United States Army in World War II: The European Theater of Operations (Washington, Government Printing Office, 1954), pp. 457–159.↩
- International Convention Relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War, signed at Geneva July: 27, 1929. For text, see Foreign Relations, 1929, vol. i, p. 336.↩