Mr. Harold H. Neff, Special Assistant to the Under Secretary of War (Patterson), to the Chief of the Division of Northern European Affairs (Gumming)

Dear Mr. Cumming: I am sending you attached the statement which you requested from me in regard to SWNCC 24/4.25

Sincerely yours,

Harold H. Neff

Memorandum by the War Department Regarding the Swedish Proposal to Alleviate Norwegian Distress Caused by the Germans

The acute food difficulties of Norway result from the German taking of food there. For example, from roughly April 1940 to September 1944 the Germans have taken out of Norway some 1,000,000 tons of fish. Germany has shipped in certain quantities of food, but in no sense correlative to that taken out. No data has been presented showing the food the Germans are at present taking from Norway, or have taken in the last six months. It is not possible, therefore, to judge the extent the Germans are aided by the shipments to Norway. It must be assumed at least, however, that the German occupation forces are being fed from local supplies, and, in consequence, that shipments in are in replacement of supplies taken by the Germans.

The fact that the grain shipped to Norway is seed grain would not prevent aid to the Germans. The seed grain would free the grain already present in Norway for either animal or human consumption.

The Germans have recently taken for their own consumption Red Cross prisoner of war supplies. If they have taken such supplies, no reason is seen why they would not take supplies not so safeguarded.

The recommendation that the seed grain go in is partially based on the assumption of an early termination of the war. One of the [Page 39] ways of bringing about such early termination is to assure that the German morale is not aided by a supplement to the German critical food supply.

More generally, the present request should be refused on the ground that it is but one instance of a number which all tend to the general breakdown of the German food blockade, at the very time when it may be most effective. The Joint Chiefs of Staff have expressed themselves as being against any relaxation, on the ground that, once exceptions are made, no line can be drawn for not making others.

Requests are presently pending to ship to Norway: 5,000 tons of super phosphate, 10,000 tons of flour or grain, and 1,000 tons of dried peas; to occupied Holland, 5,000 tons per week of foodstuffs plus medical supplies.

There are, in addition, substantial quantities of supplies which have recently gone and are going at present into German-held Europe under previous authorization. No overall statement has been made available as to the total quantities of these supplies.

The non-German population still under German control amounts to many millions. No reason is seen why, if we undertake to feed portions of this non-German population, the Germans will not deprive the other portions of essential supplies, so as to throw that burden upon the Allies.

We are already incapable of meeting the essential needs of the liberated areas on our lines of communication. It is fair to assume that these needs will increase before they will diminish. Any supplies sent behind the German lines, in last analysis, detract from our ability to meet the needs of the areas which are our prime military responsibility.

It is submitted that a general overall survey should be made of all supplies from all sources which are already authorized to go into German-held Europe from areas outside.

In the terms previously employed by the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the shipping in of the grain in question is counter-operational and, therefore, from a military standpoint, should be opposed.

  1. See footnote 23, p. 36.