856.50/3–1445: Airgram

The Secretary of State to the Ambassador to the Netherlands Government in Exile (Hornbeck), at London

Netherlands Series A–10. With reference to notes received from the Netherlands Government on January 1, 1945, and February 20, 1945, referred to in your airgrams A–4 dated January 6 and A–7 dated February 22 respectively, you are requested to inform the Netherlands Government of the following.

(1) The Government of the United States has been kept fully informed of conditions in the Netherlands, more especially in the liberated part of the country, and is keenly aware of the acute need of the civilian population due to current shortages of food, clothing, shelter, fuel and medical supplies. This Government has not sought to compare such unhappy conditions with those obtaining during the period of occupation by the enemy nor with those obtaining in countries not occupied by the Axis powers. Any such comparison would seem without useful purpose, if viewed in the light of the major objectives of the United Nations, namely, defeat of the enemy and liberation from Axis domination.

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(2) At the same time, this Government has been determined from the outset, within the limitations of military necessity, to alleviate suffering, hunger and distress of the Allied peoples to the greatest possible degree. Early in the war, the principle was firmly established that resources of the supplying countries would be mobilized on a combined basis, not only in the prosecution of the war but in the equitable provision for civilian needs so far as such resources, including shipping, after provision for military operations, would permit. No one has been able to foretell with any accuracy the course of military events and it has therefore been necessary to reserve a general first priority for military needs.

It has been impossible, due to limitations of supply and shipping, to adopt the principle of making firm commitments in advance for other than basic military requirements or to guarantee in advance, supplies, shipping or inland transport facilities for national import programs, as the Netherlands Government suggests. Allocations must of necessity await actual availabilities as and when they occur.

(3) The United States Government has been pleased to note in recent weeks a slight improvement in supply and shipping availabilities and, preparatory to the eventual relinquishment by the military of supply operations for the civilian populations of liberated territories, has urged the establishment of national government import programs, based on port clearance and inland transport capacity, on behalf of which claims for supplies and shipping could be separately presented to the allocating authorities.

As the Netherlands Government has been informed allocations of shipping, outside military requirements, have already been made for the first and second quarters of 1945 and all possible assistance by the civilian agencies is being directed to the procurement of supplies for such ships. This Government urges that the representatives of the Netherlands Government, concerned with procurement, be instructed to expedite purchases wherever possible and to take the maximum advantage of wartime supply availabilities including the utilization of substitutes where more full specifications cannot be met.

(4) Progress is therefore being made toward the objectives outlined in the notes of the Netherlands Government under reference. The Government of the United States recognizes the desirability of these objectives and will, as military considerations permit, cooperate fully in their realization.

(5) Pending the fuller implementation of the Netherlands Government’s plans to supply civilian needs in the liberated portion of the Netherlands, the Government of the United States has been in continuous touch with the military authorities to the end that liberated [Page 12] civilian populations be afforded the maximum relief supplies which can, during the period of armed conflict, appropriately be supplied through military facilities. It has, indeed, been unfortunate that military requirements have prevented up to the present time, the carrying out of the planned provision for civilian needs. This Government has recently noted with gratification, an improvement in the availability of military civilian supplies for the portion of the Netherlands now liberated and the accumulation of special reserves for that portion of the Netherlands still under domination of the enemy.