No. 725
Memorandum by the Director of the Bureau of German Affairs (Riddleberger) to the Under Secretary of State (Smith)1



  • Food for East Germany

The following report on the plans which have been developed on the proposed shipment of food to Eastern Germany is transmitted for your information and for discussion at the luncheon of the Psychological Strategy Board on Wednesday, July 8th.2

Method of Initiation

It has been determined that the best possible method of initiating the project is to ask Chancellor Adenauer to send a request to the President for food for the East German population. The President would then respond by sending a note to the government of the USSR, to be delivered at Moscow, in which he points out that the United States is anxious to help those in need of food; that the United States has always put humanitarian considerations in the forefront of its political actions and that the United States feels a [Page 1612] special responsibility in this case as a co-occupying power in Germany.

Other possible approaches have been considered but none seem to have the psychological and political advantages which this approach seems to offer. An approach through the High Commissioners would automatically require a tripartitely coordinated position which might be difficult to obtain, aside from the fact that the Western High Commissioners have not yet established normal relations with the new Soviet High Commissioner for Germany. If humanitarian considerations were to take precedence over the psychological advantages to be gained and the amount of food to be offered were to be reduced considerably, the E area believes that without United States governmental intervention and by unobtrusive methods through church circles, some food could be gotten into Eastern Germany.

Food Available

The bulk of the food shipments will probably come from United States surpluses including grain, soy bean oil, lard, sugar, dry skim milk and some meat. Initially, while shipment of these foods is in progress, some army “C rations” now available in Europe and some food from a stockpile in Vienna now being liquidated could be shipped to Eastern Germany to prevent any significant delay in the arrival of food. We believe that the total food shipments should be in the value of approximately $15 million.


The method of distributing the food in Eastern Germany will be decided upon after Soviet acceptance, if it should take place. We would then try to meet Chancellor Adenauer’s ideas which call for a distribution of the food through the Protestant and Catholic churches. The food should be slated for distribution primarily in urban centers and other disaster areas and should be designed to relieve the food situation through September when the new harvest will have been brought in. This would alleviate the immediate crisis but cause no long-range change in the deteriorating economic conditions in the East Zone.


We believe that satisfactory legislation will be available, subject, of course, to Congressional consultation. Specifically, Section 114(h) of the MSA Act for 1953 and Section 513(b) of the MSA Act for 1954 can be cited as authorizations for this type of program. The Kersten Amendment also provides authorization but the Legal Advisor would prefer not to cite it. The transfer of funds under the authorization is now being explored by MSA.

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We have kept High Commissioner Conant and Ambassador Bohlen fully informed of our plans. The British and French Ambassadors should be informed in order to permit our statement to indicate that the United Kingdom and France have been consulted and agree with our offer.

Immediate Procedure

Should the Psychological Strategy Board approve the project substantially as outlined above, we have arranged with High Commissioner Conant that on the basis of the telephone call on Wednesday afternoon, July 8, he will request Chancellor Adenauer to send a message to the President asking for the food shipment.3 As soon thereafter as Embassy Moscow can make arrangements, a note offering the shipment substantially as outlined in paragraph 1 above will be presented at the Foreign Office in Moscow. This note would be released by the President on Friday or Saturday, thus permitting us to take action on this project this week.4


It is recommended that you present this progress report to the Psychological Strategy Board at its luncheon on Wednesday, July 8, and recommend approval of the project substantially as outlined above.

Following approval of the project as outlined above, a text of the note to be delivered by Embassy Moscow and a text of the press statement to be issued by the President will be prepared.

  1. Drafted by Straus.
  2. See infra.
  3. For the note from Adenauer, see Document 727.
  4. For the note to the Soviet Government, see Document 728.