Memorandum by the Ambassador to the Netherlands Government in Exile (Hornbeck)8

I. Shortly before Judge Rosenman’s departure from London for the Continent8a there was handed to Judge Rosenman by Mr. Hornbeck a memorandum as follows:

“March 12, 1945.

“The situation and problem with regard to Holland boil down to this:

“That Holland (the Netherlands in Europe) now consists of two areas: the liberated area (between one-fifth and one-third of the country) and the unliberated area (between two-thirds and four-fifths of the country);

“That in the liberated portion (the population about two million) there exists a situation of distress (if not of desperate need) which is gradually being relieved: conditions there are growing better;

“That in the unliberated portion (population about six million) there exists a situation of desperate need (people are already dying of starvation: conditions there are rapidly growing worse);

“That pending the liberation of the still unliberated area, it is for practical purposes impossible for the Allies to deliver to the population food (or any other forms of relief) in any substantial amount;

“That between now and the time when liberation occurs conditions of starvation will be seriously affecting from three to four million persons;

“That when the liberation of that area takes place responsibility with regard to that population (i.e., with regard to conditions of civilian livelihood in that area) will immediately devolve upon the Allies (i.e., upon the military agencies, and behind them the governments, thereof);

“That the one thing that can and imperatively should be done currently by the Allies in this connection is to perfect plans, accumulate [Page 13] supplies, make ample provision regarding assignment of personnel and earmarking equipment, etc., (especially transport) for discharging with the maximum of possible promptness, as soon as it devolves upon them, that responsibility;

“That toward ensuring that such preparations be made—and be comprehensively and adequately made—there is need for a top level decision and a Combined Staff issuance of orders that this situation and problem are to be given the highest practicable priority of effective attention.”

II. It is believed that there might to advantage be added to what was stated in that memorandum additional paragraphs as follows:

“That there are four reasons in particular why action in the sense of the last paragraph of the memorandum of March 12 (above) should be taken: first, it appears to be the only procedure which will adequately accelerate the administrative processes which are involved in the handling of this problem; second, such acceleration is imperative toward preparedness to meet the needs of a situation which may confront the Allies soon and with unexpected suddenness; third, substantial humanitarian considerations are at stake; and, fourth, should the Allies be ‘caught short’ in this matter, there would be unfortunate and disagreeable political repercussions.

“That the desirability of prompt action in regard to this matter cannot be over estimated.”

III. With regard to the statement which appears in the fourth paragraph of the memorandum of March 12: namely, “That pending the liberation of the still unliberated area, it is for practical purposes impossible for the Allies to deliver to the population food (or any other forms of relief) in any substantial amount”, it is believed that, for purposes of clarification, supplementary observation should be offered. While it is for practicable purposes not possible for the Allies to deliver to the population in the unliberated part of the Netherlands food or other forms of relief in any substantial amount, it nevertheless is beginning to appear possible for the Allies to effect and to contribute to the success of an arrangement whereby deliveries of food, etc., may be made to the population under reference by and through Swedish agencies: in other words, it may become possible for the Allies to effect such deliveries indirectly. It is understood that conversations and negotiations are in process toward the effecting thus of deliveries of perhaps as much as 20,000 tons per month at the port of Delftzijl of supplies the ultimate sources of which would be Great Britain, the United States, Canada. It is believed that every practicable effort should be made to effect the conclusion of such an arrangement and the putting of it into operation at the earliest possible moment.

  1. Transmitted to the Department by the Ambassador as an enclosure to his letter dated March 19, 1945; received March 25.
  2. Regarding the Rosenman Mission to Europe, see vol. ii, pp. 1064, 1074, 10751076, 10801082, and 1097.