851.61311/10–1147: Telegram

The Acting Secretary of State to the Embassy in France
top secret
us urgent

3901. Reurtel 4396, Oct. 11. Following, subject minor changes, will form part Sec. Harriman’s speech at Chicago, Oct 14.1

“Both during and since the war the US has been helping to feed hungry people. During the war we shipped large quantities of food to our allies, including Russia. Last year, for example, we exported nearly 15 million tons of grain and flour alone. Other countries with food surpluses have made important contributions. It is now reported that as a result of favorable weather Russia has an exportable surplus of at least two million tons of grain. I am pleased to note reports in the press that Russia has entered into negotiations to deliver a part of her substantial wheat surplus to France and other countries. The food crisis in all of Western Europe, and particularly in France, is grave. All help that can be given by countries with a surplus is urgently needed.

[“]The announcement of the Russian readiness to negotiate for shipment of grain to France has of course been accompanied with great fanfare and Communist activity within France.

[“]It therefore should be noted that, as in the case of the last offer of Russian wheat to France, it comes significantly just at the time of an election. Last year they actually delivered wheat. This year they have so far only offered to negotiate. France it appears can entertain the hope of eating some Russian food only at election time.

[“] American wheat and other food has been delivered regularly to France throughout the period since the end of the war, as well as to the other needy countries of Europe and the world.

[“]In view of the great capital being made by the Communists about this latest demonstration of Russian cooperation, the relative quantities of food which have come from the US and from Russia should be clearly stated. Russia has shipped about 540,000 tons of grain to France, whereas beginning in 1945 we have shipped nearly seven times that amount, or about 3,600,000 tons.”

  1. For the substance of Secretary of Commerce Harriman’s speech, see the New York Times, October 15, 1947, p. 22.