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Part III - Rebuilding Europe

Hoover received a second assignment in the early days of 1947. At Truman's request, he traveled to Germany and Austria to determine why it was costing the United States and its allies more than half a billion dollars annually to support former enemies nearly two years after the end of the war. Hoover returned with criticisms and suggestions on how to bring Germany and Austria to self-sufficiency.

More important, he returned to Capitol Hill to work for an aid package that included tight controls on use of that aid. This concern for controls put Hoover at odds with Truman who proposed an aid program with only limited restrictions. Both Europe and the Far East needed food badly and Hoover was in favor of providing it. But the former president contended that the United States must protect itself against unscrupulous officials in other countries who would misuse U.S. assistance for personal gain. Hoover was tireless in this campaign, lobbying both the president and the Congress throughout the Spring of 1947.

The introduction of the Marshall Plan in late spring changed the debate, but Hoover continued to lobby for controls. He never wavered in his overall support for the aid bill. Secretary of State George C. Marshall and Truman were grateful for this support even if it came laced with revisions.


A new year brought another call for Herbert Hoover to undertake public service. Hoover remembered in An American Epic that he received a call on January 7, 1947 from Robert Patterson, Truman's secretary of war. Patterson asked Hoover to go to Germany and Austria where a food crisis was emerging. Hoover declined at first, telling Patterson the data required to make recommendations could be acquired without another exhausting overseas trip.

He also suggested that the report and recommendations not be confined to food, but that it also address wider issues of Allied economic and political policies in the American, French, and British zones of occupied Germany. Finally, he added a caveat: He would take on the job only at the president's request and with the understanding that he would have the cooperation of all government agencies involved.

Hoover heard nothing for more than a week and he confided to his friend Rickard that he did not believe that Truman would agree to make these changes. The delay was caused in part because Patterson did not contact the president until the sixteenth. Once he received Patterson's request, Truman responded immediately. In a letter from the White House dated January 18, Truman, asked Hoover to undertake an "economic mission as to food and its collateral problems" in the British and American zones of Germany. It was not quite the broad mandate that Hoover was seeking but enough to continue the dialogue between the two men.

The White House
January 18, 1947

Dear Mr. President:

Last year you made a trip around the world at my request to report on food needs at a time of critical shortage. The result was most helpful in meeting the acute problems which confronted us.

World conditions this year are not nearly as threatening, but a serious situation in food still exists in certain areas, particularly those in Europe occupied by our forces and for which we, therefore, have a direct responsibility. I believe a food survey by you of these areas would be of great benefit to us in determining our policy in supplying food or funds for its purchase. The recent merger of the United States Zone in Germany with the British Zone for economic purposes makes the food conditions in the British Zone also of interest to us.

I should, therefore, like to ask you to undertake this economic mission as to food and its collateral problems, and report to me upon it. It is hoped that methods can be devised which will release some of the burdens on the American tax payer.

Sincerely yours,


Hoover immediately accepted the assignment. But in response, the former president reiterated his suggestion that the mission be broadened to include an investigation of long-range needs of Germany and Austria and the possibility of these countries becoming self-sufficient. To secure the president's agreement, Hoover arranged for a White House meeting. (This document is from the holdings of the Harry S. Truman Library.)

The Waldorf Astoria Towers
New York, New York
January 19, 1947

My dear Mr. President:

I have your letter of yesterday. I, of course, wish to be of service.

I feel, however, that such a mission, to be of real value and helpful to you and the country, should be somewhat broadened out. It will come as a great shock to our people that the American taxpayer for a second year must expend huge sums to provide food for the enemy peoples. Therefore, it seems to me that this mission to accomplish its purpose must also include inquiry into what further immediate steps are possible to increase their exports and thus their ability to become self-supporting; what possibilities there are of payment otherwise; and when charity can be expected to end. Without some such inclusive report, the Congress and the taxpayer are left without hope.

I trust this suggestion will meet with your approval. I will call Mr. Ross tomorrow and ask for an appointment at your convenience, preferably on Wednesday, in order to discuss the matter.

Yours faithfully,


Hoover's meeting with Truman was a reiteration of the recent correspondence between the two men. Hoover agreed to go to Germany and the two agreed on a mission statement that repeated almost word-for-word the mandate in Truman's letter of January 18.

At my interview with President Truman this morning, January 22, 1947, I agreed to make a journey to Germany and arrived at the following formula in description of the mission. I wrote it out on the President's desk and wrote him a copy which he has retained:

Economic Mission directed to food and its collateral problems. It is hoped that methods can be devised which will relieve some of the burden on the American taxpayer.


Hoover released a statement after the meeting. Although he remained faithful to the agreed-upon goals as noted in his first paragraph, he also expanded the statement by defining his mission as a "long-range study."

Mr. Truman has asked me to go to Germany and way-stations on an economic mission directed to food and its collateral problems. It is hoped that methods can be devised which will relieve some of the burden on American taxpayers.

The ability of the Germans to feed themselves and restore their productivity is probably two or three years away so my mission is not so much a question of determining their needs for the next two or three months as it is a long-range study.


Hoover and associates left for Germany on February 2 intent on learning "what was causing Germany's $600 million annual cost to American and British tax-payers." His approach to the problem was much the same as the one he had used all of his life -- analyze the problem, assign critical subjects and tasks to subordinates, and keep the mission in view. It took a great deal of time and many non-stop meetings because Hoover was forced to consult with the endless bureaucracy of foreign governments.

Hoover returned to New York on February 23 and contacted the White House that night to set up a meeting. He devoted the next two days to revising and printing the first of three reports on Germany and Austria. Eager to meet with the president, Hoover transmitted a galley proof of the first report to Truman through the president's press secretary on February 25. He completed the final version on February 26, discussed it with Truman on the twenty-seventh, and released it to the press on the twenty-eighth. (The complete report is in Addresses Upon the American Road, 1945-1948 [New York, 1949], pp. 269-285.)

February 26, 1947

Dear Mr. President:

I have now completed the Economic Mission to Germany and Austria, which I undertook at your request.

I enclose herewith a memorandum on the economic conditions affecting food supplies for the newly combined American and British Zones, together with estimates of supplies and costs involved in deficiency appropriations for the last half of the fiscal year 1946-1947 and appropriations for the fiscal year 1947-1948. I shall submit detailed annexes to this memorandum as soon as they are completed.

I shall report separately on Austria, and at a later date I shall have some further report on other economic and health problems in these areas.

In this examination of food questions in the combined zones, I have had the invaluable service of Dr. Dennis A. FitzGerald in food questions and that of Dr. Wm. H. Sebrell, Jr. in nutritional and health questions, together with the able assistance in other economic question of Mr. Hugh Gibson, Mr. Louis Lochner, Mr. Frank Mason, and Dr. Gustav Stolper. I have received the full cooperation of Generals McNarney, Clay and Draper, Colonel Hester and their able staff, as well as General Robertson, Sir Cecil Weir and Mr. T.F. Griffin and their able staff on the British side.

My thanks are also due to the devoted service of Mr. Tracy S. Voorhees, Special Assistant to the Secretary of War, and to the Air Transport Command for their cooperation and skill.


Conclusion to
German Agriculture and Food Requirements

. . . It may come as a great shock to American taxpayers that, having won the war over Germany, we are now faced for some years with large expenditures for relief for these people. Indeed, it is something new in human history for the conqueror to undertake.

Whatever the policies might have been that would have avoided this expense, we now are faced with it. And we are faced with it until the export industries of Germany can be sufficiently revived to pay for their food. The first necessity for such a revival is sufficient food upon which to maintain vitality to work.

Entirely aside from any humanitarian feelings for this mass of people, if we want peace; if we want to preserve the safety and health of our Army of Occupation; if we want to save the expense of even larger military forces to preserve order; if we want to reduce the size and expense of our Army of Occupation -- I can see no other course but to meet the burdens I have here outlined.

Our determination is to establish such a regime in Germany as will prevent forever again the rise of militarism and aggression within these people. But those who believe in vengeance and the punishment of a great mass of Germans not concerned in the Nazi conspiracy can now have no misgivings for all of them -- in food, warmth and shelter -- have been sunk to the lowest level known in a hundred years of Western history.

If Western Civilization is to survive in Europe, it must also survive in Germany. And it must be built into a cooperative member of that civilization. That indeed is the hope of any lasting peace.

After all, our flag flies over these people. That flag means something besides military power.


The day following his meeting with Hoover, Truman released a statement noting the "tragic conditions of hunger" discovered by the former president on his mission. Truman also praised the American people for all that they had done for famine relief in the previous year and called on them to continue their efforts. (The complete statement is in The Public Papers of the Presidents: Harry S. Truman, 1947 [Washington, D.C., 1962], pp.159-161.)


. . . Mr. Hoover's survey of conditions in the countries he has just visited, as well as many reports which have come to me, reveal the tragic conditions of hunger under which many millions of people all over the world are still living. Even after the last of the grain we originally promised for this year has left our shores, millions will still be weakened and wasted by hunger. The next few months before the new harvests are gathered in Europe and in other countries to which a part of our exports are going, will be most critical ones . . .

I know that it is a source of gratification to the people of our country, as it is to me, that we have been able to supply needed food to many of our wartime allies, and that at the same time we have been able to make substantial shipments to Italy, Switzerland, Austria, Eire, Finland, and other countries whose needs have also been great.

I am sure that I express the opinion of all Americans in pledging that we will continue the policy of sharing out of our abundance with those in dire need. Every additional pound of grain we can export is a contribution to human welfare, to reconstruction, and to world peace.


After he met with Truman on the twenty-seventh, Hoover devoted the next day and a half to nonstop meetings with cabinet officials and members of Congress. On the afternoon of the twenty-seventh, for example, Hoover briefed Marshall and Patterson. That evening he had dinner with Senators Styles Bridges, Daniel Brewster, John Bricker and Robert Taft. The next day he had breakfast with seven members of the House and two more senators. At 10:30 he testified before the House Foreign Affairs Committee; he then had lunch with no less than 25 congressmen. The day ended with a small dinner with five more House members.

He returned to New York on the twenty-eighth, apparently pleased with the results, or so he implied to Rickard the next day. But one round of meetings would not be enough to ensure the establishment of the food program and Hoover knew it.

Saturday, March 1 [1947]

H.H. back from Washington and apparently pleased with results. He had two hours with Sec'y Marshall and suggested that on eve of his departure for Moscow he issue statement indicating that he has little hope for any real results; this will pave the way to prepare public for possible failure of conference. He had a good talk with Truman and suggested that if a bill authorizing relief is passed by Congress he ask Hallam Tuck to take full charge of operations. Truman took down Tuck's name. He [Hoover] appeared before House Committee on Foreign Affairs and backed up Truman's appeal for 350 million, with definite restrictions as to distribution and not charity. He says [David] Lilienthal should not be appointed, and surprised that Lewis Strauss, also nominated for Atomic Commission favors Lilienthal; says that volume of propaganda for Lilienthal is very great. Truman has advised [Albert] Hawkes, Senator from New Jersey, that he will sign bill to revert to name of Hoover Dam, and rumor that if [Julius] Krug, Sec'y of Interior, approves, he may ask for special resolution.


After his whirlwind trip on February 27-28, Hoover returned to New York to work on his second report: on food requirements for Austria. On March 7, as he was revising the final text and reviewing the galley proof of this report, he arranged an appointment with Truman on the twelfth.

He transmitted his report on Austria to the president through Ross on March 8. Dated March 11, this second report was not as long or detailed as the first, but it was no less compelling. (The complete report is in Addresses Upon the American Road, 1945-1948 [New York, 1949], pp. 294-302.)

Conclusion to
On Austrian Agriculture and Food Requirements -- Economic Reorganization

. . . The Allies, in the Moscow Declaration of November 1, 1943, declared the annexation of Austria "null and void," "shall be liberated from German domination," "reestablished free and independent" Thus classed as a "liberated state," it has been presumed that Austria will be free of reparations.

It can be said at once, however, that if the requisitioned assets are to be removed or operated for other than Austrian economy or by other than the Austrians themselves, there can be little hope that Austria can recover self-support for many, many years.

On the other hand, if Austria's land and industrial equipment were entirely freed by a peace treaty and the burden of foreign armies removed, we might reasonably expect her to begin to contribute to the cost of food imports by the latter part of 1948 and to become self-supporting in two or three years thereafter. Otherwise she is likely again to be the poorhouse of Europe for years to come and her people constantly be dependent for life upon foreign aid.

The Austrian people are making a brave fight to reestablish the principles of Western Civilization. Their officials are able and effective. They should enlist our sympathy, our support and all the influence we can summon in her reconstruction.


Truman read the report on Austria on the evening of March 10 and made a point of writing to Hoover the next day. The president could have saved his words of praise for his meeting with Hoover on the twelfth. He chose, instead, to put his feelings on paper.

The White House
March 11, 1947

Dear Mr. President:

Charlie Ross handed me your report on Austria, which I read with a lot of interest last night.

I want to express to you again my very high appreciation for your willingness to undertake these two surveys for the Secretary of War and me. You have made a very decided contribution to the situation in Germany and Austria and I am sure that it will have a bearing on the conference in Moscow.

Please accept my sincere thanks.

Sincerely yours,


Hoover met with Truman in the president's office on the morning of March 12 to brief the president on the Austrian report, but Hoover used the opportunity to lobby for tighter controls over the proposed $350 million food relief bill. He reiterated his concerns and amendments to the bill in a letter dated the day of his White House meeting. Hoover also sent the list of amendments to Congressman Charles Eaton, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

In an effort to gain another perspective on Hoover's ideas, Truman forwarded the list of amendments to his aide Charles Murphy for comment. (This document is from the holdings of the Harry S. Truman Library.)

The Mayflower
Washington, D.C.
March 12, 1947

My dear Mr. President:

In addition to the provisions which should be introduced into the $350,000,000 relief bill which I suggested to you, I have one further suggestion.

I am convinced that $350,000,000 is more than can be properly spent in 1947 and especially so if other nations contribute. Inasmuch as the United Nations is proposing another fund for feeding of children instead of another authorization bill and all the worries of appropriation, I believe it would be well to introduce into the $350,000,000 bill, something like the enclosed.

Yours faithfully,

Amendments to the $350,000,000 Bill


A. That no relief shall be extended other than with the products of the United States and their transportation.

B. That such relief shall be limited to food, seed, fertilizers and medicine.

C. That no obligation or promise shall be made as to a definite period of relief beyond month to month.

D. That any relief given shall be distributed under the supervision of agents of the United States and to their satisfaction.

E. That no relief shall be extended to any countries where food, seed, fertilizers, or medicine are being exported or removed during the calendar year in which relief is being extended.

F. That every country to which relief is extended shall obligate themselves to pay therefore at some future date.

G. That such payment shall take precedence over any reparations.

H. That they shall obligate themselves that should they have an exportable surplus from the 1947 or 1948 harvest, they will repay the United States by return of like amounts of food before December 1, 1947 or December 1, 1948, to be delivered at some port or border railway station at the option of the United States.

I. That an Administrator of Relief should be appointed under the Secretary of Agriculture.

Not withstanding any other provisions, the President is authorized to transfer from this fund an amount equal to 57% of any fund raised by the United Nations for the special feeding of children, such allotment not to exceed $50,000,000.


Hoover sent the third of three reports on Germany and Austria to Truman on March 18, but did not release it until March 24. In this final report, he argued in favor of a new approach to the recovery of Germany, particularly for the British and American zones. If Germany was to recover, and Hoover believed German economic health was vital to the recovery of Europe, the United States needed to adopt a less punitive plan. Germany should be allowed to rebuild plants and industries not directly related to war. (The complete report is in Addresses Upon the American Road, 1945-1948 [New York, 1949], pp. 83-97.)

The Waldorf-Astoria Towers
New York, New York
March 18, 1947

Dear Mr. President:

I am sending you herewith my conclusions upon the problems of reviving German industry and thus exports with which to relieve American and British taxpayers from their burden in preventing starvation in Germany. These problems also involve economic stability and peace in Europe.

Whatever may have been our policies in the past, I am convinced that the time has come to face the realities that have developed. The mission you assigned to me would be less than performed if I did not state the stark situation and make such recommendations as seem to me necessary.

I wish again to express my appreciation to you for your consideration, to my colleagues Mr. Hugh Gibson, Dr. Gustav Stolper, Dr. Dennis A. FitzGerald, Dr. William Sebrell, Jr., and Messrs. Louis Lochner, Frank Mason and Tracy Voorhees, and to our military and civil officials in Germany.

Yours faithfully,

On the Necessary Steps for the Promotion of German Exports,
so as to Relieve American Taxpayers of the Burdens of Relief
and for Economic Recovery of Europe.

. . . I suggest that we adopt at once a new economic concept in peace with New Germany.

(1) We should free German industry, subject to a control commission, which will see that she does no evil in industry, just as we see that she does not move into militarism through armies and navies.

The difference between this concept and the "level of industry" concept is the saving of several hundred millions of dollars a year to the American and British taxpayers. It is the difference between the regeneration and a further degeneration of Europe.

(2) The removal and destruction of plants (except direct arms plants) should stop.

(3) A further obstacle to building Germany as an essential unit of European economy arises from the Russian Government's acquiring a large part of the key operating industries in their zone. Germany in peace must be free from ownership of industry by a foreign government. Such ownership can thwart every action of control or of up-building by joint action of other nations. German industry must be operated by Germans if any international control is to work, if she is to recover production and is to serve all nations equally.

(4) There can be no separation or different regime of the Ruhr or Rhineland from the New Germany. That is the heart of her industrial economy. Any control commission can dictate the destination of coal or other exports from that area and even such control would not be needed after the era of scarcity passes from Europe . . .


Truman responded to Hoover's third report in perfunctory fashion, referring to it as "a most interesting document." To be sure, he did acknowledge that Hoover had made a "great contribution" toward reestablishing the economic balance in Europe, but there was no serious discussion of issues raised in the report.

The White House
March 24, 1947

Dear Mr. President:

I read with a lot of interest your Report No. Three -- The Necessary Steps for Promotion of German Exports and it is a most interesting document.

I do appreciate most highly your willingness to go into this matter and I also appreciate the thoroughness with which you have covered the ground.

I am hoping we can work out the economic situation in Germany so as to reestablish the European balance of trade. At Potsdam I suggested to the conference that the Rhine and Danube should be free for the transport of merchandise to all those countries that had riparian rights on them and I am sure that it is going to be necessary to reestablish the economic balance in Europe before we can possibly reestablish the political balance.

I think you have made a great contribution toward that end.

Sincerely yours,


At his meeting with Truman on March 12, Hoover suggested amendments to the famine relief bill that he set out in a letter to the president dated that same day. Among the amendments was one to specify support for the United Nations to assist in the relief of children.

This idea was opposed by both the White House staff and the State Department. The State Department informed the Foreign Affairs Committee of its objections, and the committee rejected Hoover's proposed amendment. (This document is from the holdings of the Harry S. Truman Library.)

The White House
March 24, 1947


From: Charles Murphy

Mr. Hoover recently left with you a proposed amendment to the bill authorizing $350,000,000 in relief for war devastated countries. The purpose of the amendment is to authorize the transfer from this fund of an amount equal to 57% of any fund raised by the United Nations for the special feeding of children, the transferred amount not to exceed $50,000,000.

I have talked to Mr. Tyler Wood of the State Department concerning this proposal. Mr. Wood informs me that the United Nations is developing a special program for the feeding of children and will use contributions from public or private sources for that purpose. The State Department has been having informal discussions with the Bureau of the Budget concerning a request for an appropriation to be used for this program. The State Department has tentatively decided to submit to the Budget a request for $40,000,000 for this purpose.

While it is in favor of supporting the special program for the feeding of children, the State Department feels that it would be a grave mistake to transfer a part of the $350,000,000 to the United Nations for this purpose. The $350,000,000 is to provide a minimum feeding program. It is the view of the State Department that any special program for feeding children should be built on top of the minimum feeding program rather than replacing it.

Representatives of the State Department informed the House Committee on Foreign Affairs as to their views on this subject, and consequently that Committee rejected the amendment proposed by Mr. Hoover.



Hoover was not discouraged by the defeat of one of his amendments. In fact, he continued to support the passage of the appropriation bill and at the same time continued to push for tighter controls on how and where the $350,000,000 would be spent. Hoover also discussed his concerns with Tyler Wood of the State Department and passed on a copy of those concerns to the president and to the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee on March 29.

The Waldorf Astoria Towers
New York, New York
March 29, 1947

Dear Mr. President:

You will recollect that on two occasions I discussed with you certain safeguards which I thought should be introduced into the $350,000,000 relief appropriation bill. Some were adopted by the House Committee but some were not.

Later, Colonel Tyler Wood, of the State Department, called upon me to discuss some further possible amendments by the Committee, and today I have received his written views. I enclose herewith a copy of his suggestions and my reply thereto.

Yours faithfully,

[Enclosure Not In File]


Hoover's third report, the one on the economic recovery of Germany, was controversial because it called on the Truman administration to change its policies. At least one former Truman aide cautioned the president against such a change. As the former U.S. representative on the Allied commission on Reparations, Edwin W. Pauley was in the best position to comment on Hoover's proposals. In a spirited rebuttal, Pauley disagreed with virtually all of Hoover's recommendations. (This document is from the holdings of the Harry S. Truman Library.)

April 15, 1947

My dear Mr. President:

Although I have relinquished my responsibilities as United States Representative on the Allied Commission on Reparations, and as your Personal Representative in reparations matter, I consider that I have the continuing duty to report to you whenever there are developments in this field which call for your decision. You have said that you wanted me to accept this obligation.

The report to you on March 18 by former President Hoover constitutes such a development, inasmuch as it calls for a major reversal of the policy on reparations to which the United States is now committed. In writing to you now to point out certain very grave dangers which I believe to be inherent in certain of Mr. Hoover's proposals, I would emphasize that I do so in full recognition of the patriotic spirit with which the former President is serving his country, and with full respect for his capabilities . . .

But, while I give my support heartily to these premises of Mr. Hoover, I feel the deepest kind of apprehension over his proposal for the revival of German heavy industry. Mr. Hoover is an engineer. He is accustomed to thinking a project through and calculating its probable results. Obviously, then, he has thought through his proposal and considers it a safe one. I wish very sincerely that I might share that feeling of safety, because Mr. Hoover's plan would offer a speedier and much easier solution to the problem of European recovery than the course to which we committed ourselves by the Potsdam Protocol. But, I cannot persuade myself that the proposed plan would be safe, and I want you to have my reasons . . .

Mr. Hoover's basic reason, of course, is that the great need in Europe today is immediate production. No man in possession of the facts will deny that this is true. Europe is desperately in need of immediate production. But I still ask: Do we not need to give some heed to how this production is accomplished? I am thinking of the sort of things that used to happen in certain mill regions of the United States, where the workers got food, clothing and shelter from their employers -- and found themselves progressively mortgaged for the rest of their lives. For "recovery" they found themselves slaves. Is there not a possible parallel here? Obviously our hearts are deeply troubled for those in Europe who lack even the barest essentials, and we want -- and intend -- to help them. But, I am thoroughly convinced that the method proposed by Mr. Hoover would not only be dangerous, but that it would not even accomplish the swift production which he envisions.

In conclusion, Mr. President, may I repeat that, in pointing to the dangers which I believe to lie in the suggestion for restoration of German heavy industry, I do so with full appreciation of the important work that is being done for you and for the Nation by Mr. Hoover, for whom I have the highest regard.

Sincerely yours,


Truman was grateful to have Pauley's evaluation of the Hoover plan and he said as much in his letter to Pauley on April 27. The president passed both the Hoover report and the Pauley letter on to his aide John R. Steelman for his assessment. In the following memorandum, Steelman supported Pauley without equivocation. (This document is from the Harry S. Truman Library.)

The White House


Hoover and Pauley Recommendations on Germany

The proposals advanced by Mr. Hoover in his third report ("The Necessary Steps for Promotion of German Exports, so as to Relieve American Taxpayers of the Burden of Relief and for Economic Recovery of Europe") contemplate a fundamental reversal of American political and economic policy in Europe and run counter to the international commitments of this Government undertaken at Quebec, September 15, 1944, and at Potsdam in 1946 . . .

by Mr. Pauley, in his critique of the Hoover proposals, is, I think, quite right in indicating that their acceptance would constitute not only a complete reversal of our objectives for which we fought the war. Yet these proposals are made by Mr. Hoover as an incident in his analysis of the food situation and almost certainly without adequate consideration of the high policy questions involved . . .

If it were decided to proceed on the reparations question, it might be desirable for the President to consider sending to western Europe a personal representative to report on the production problems of the countries surrounding Germany and to advise on measures to speed the recovery of Europe as a whole. There must be other approaches to these problems than the revival of a German colossus along the lines suggested by Mr. Hoover.


69. HOOVER TO ROSS, APRIL 17, 1947

Hoover continued his efforts to amend the food relief bill throughout April. On April 16, he received an invitation form Senator Arthur Vandenberg to testify on the bill before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on the 18th. Hoover quickly agreed and then telegraphed Truman's secretary, Charles G. Ross, to arrange an appointment with the president. The president and the former president met in the president's office on the morning of the 18th but neither left a memoranda of their conversation. It is likely, however, that Hoover used the opportunity to lobby the president once again for his amendments.

April 17, 1947

Charles G. Ross
The White House
Washington, D.C.

I am coming to Washington to appear at a Senate Hearing tomorrow. I have nothing to bother the president about. If however he has anything he would like to take up with me I will be arriving at the Mayflower this evening.


70. RICKARD DIARY, MAY 22, 1947

Hoover persisted in his effort to persuade Congress to adopt controls for the distribution of food. At the invitation of John Taber, chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, Hoover prepared a long letter stating his views on the proposed $725 million for food relief. As Rickard noted in his diary on May 22, Hoover took his testimony seriously. He was so concerned that the Truman administration would learn of his recommendations that he would not stay in Blair House, the president's guest residence in Washington, for fear that it was wired."

Thursday, May 22 [1947]

To Waldorf, and no doubt H.H. is playing important role in the deliberations and actions of Republican Senators and Congressmen. He showed me letter from [John] Taber, chairman of House Appropriations Committee, asking for advice. He will go to Washington Monday to stay several days. He has arranged to have 10 congressmen have breakfast with him. He will not accept offer of Administration to stay in Blair House, as will not provide independence he desires; suggests that Blair House may be wired.


In response to Taber's request, Hoover repeated his analysis of the situation as he saw it in Europe and the Far East. His recommendations closely follow those in his reports to Truman, Patterson, and Marshall. First and foremost, he reiterated support for Truman's request; aid would be needed to prevent mass starvation in Europe for a third year. He emphasized, however, that aid could not go on indefinitely. Germany must be reunited if it was ever to support itself. For the sake of the U.S. taxpayers as well as the German people, he argued, it was time to free all German industries except those involved in the manufacture of military materials. To stimulate discussion of his proposals, he released his letter to the press on May 27. (The complete letter is in Addresses Upon the American Road, 1945-1948 [New York, 1949], pp.103-108.).

New York, New York
May 26, 1947

Dear Mr. Taber:

As matters stand this appropriation of $725,000,000 should be made. In addition to this proposed American appropriation the British are also to contribute their share of bi-zonal relief in Germany. These enormous sums are inescapable for the next year unless millions of people under our flags are to die of starvation. They are about the same as during the present fiscal year and this year's experience demonstrates how near starvation is in these countries.

Unless there are revolutionary changes in our policies as to Germany and Japan, the burdens upon our taxpayers are not likely to lessen and are more likely to increase. There are three alternatives before us in our occupied territories: to wash our hands of the whole business and then let the conquered countries drag the whole world to final chaos; or, humanitarian reasons, merely to carry these people on a food subsistence level, hoping for improvement in the attitudes of other nations; or to act at once to free ourselves from their hindrances as far as possible . . .

We should at once abolish for good the destruction or removal of all industrial plants which can make peacetime goods or service. The heavy burden now borne by our taxpayers is ample proof of the folly of these policies. It is an illusion that there are any consequential reparations to be had by removal of peace-time industrial plants . . .

Such policies as I have outlined are of a vast importance to the nations outside of Germany and Japan. The whole world is suffering from delay in restoration of productivity. The whole world is an interlocked economy, and paralysis in two great centers of production is a world disaster. There is greater opportunity to speed recovery in the world by such action as I outline than by any amount of gifts and loans from the United States.

There has been announced an American policy of defending the frontiers of Western Civilization. The most vital of these frontiers are Germany and Japan. If they are lost, all Europe and the Far East are lost . . .

Yours faithfully,


Hoover regularly corresponded with O'Laughlin, who kept the former president informed of developments in Washington. As the publisher of the Army and Navy Journal, a weekly paper that focused on the military, he had frequent contact with officials at the highest levels of the State and War departments. O'Laughlin's letters to the "Chief," as he and a few intimates called Hoover, were full of intrigue, information and gossip. It was through him that Hoover learned of the State Department's tepid reaction to the proposals that he set forth in his letter to Congressman Taber.

Hoover was pleased to have O'Laughlin's intelligence, but dismayed to learn that Secretary Marshall was so tentative about a separate peace with Germany. It may be that he was irritated that Marshall was not even sure if Hoover's proposals were "helpful." Hoover reminded O'Laughlin and through him Marshall that his proposals to Congressman Taber had "universal editorial support." Hoover also must have wondered how his proposals were being received in the White House.

The Waldorf-Astoria Towers
New York 22, New York
June 5, 1947

My dear Cal:

Many thanks for your letter of June third.

If Marshall only knew it he would find the Taber statement had universal editorial support. When something commends itself to The New York Times, The Chicago Tribune, Daily News, Scripps Howard, Philadelphia papers, etc., it must have touched American feeling. The good to Marshall is that it not only clarifies the air but gives him a background in negotiating with the Russians.

Yours faithfully,


With O'Laughlin's encouragement, Hoover had come to believe that his proposals would be incorporated into Marshall's emerging plan for recovery in Europe. At least Hoover believed he would be consulted. By the middle of June, however, he had not heard from Marshall or anyone else in the State Department and was clearly perturbed. He wrote to O'Laughlin on June 16 and raised a number of pointed questions. "They have set in train some bad moments," he concluded.

"And what if they want Republican cooperation (and many Democrats) why don't they consult somebody." That "somebody" was, of course, Herbert Hoover.

The answers came in O'Laughlin's letter of June 21. More than five detailed pages provided explanations of the rationale of the Marshall Plan. As to the rumor that Hoover would be appointed to an advisory council, O'Laughlin was pessimistic. "I am quite sure that at first it had been contemplated to name you as head of the American Council which Vandenberg had proposed," O'Laughlin noted. "But because of your opposition to the Marshall Plan as well as your letter to Messrs. Taber and [Bridges], and the certainty that you would refuse to 'me too' on all of the developments in the negotiations, a method was sought to use you but at the same time to check you. Hence the idea I hear and with which perhaps you are familiar, to name you and Mr. Baruch as co-chairmen, an idea that I cannot see you regarding with any favor." He noted that Marshall had determined to include "Hoover men" on the council to make it difficult for Hoover to attack its recommendations.

O'Laughlin confirmed what Hoover suspected. Truman and Marshall were not interested in ideas that differed from their plan for European recovery. They wanted an advisory committee that would defend rather than revise the Marshall Plan. Under the circumstance, Hoover noted, he was glad that he had not been asked to serve.

The former president had no doubt about the wisdom of the proposals in his letters to Taber and Bridges. Above all, he noted, his proposals pointed to a middle way between the isolationism of Colonel Robert McCormick of the Chicago Tribune and the appeasement of former Vice-President Henry Wallace.

The Waldorf-Astoria Towers
New York 22, New York
June 23, 1947

My dear Cal:

I have your illuminating letter of the 21st.

No one could be more relieved than I to read this morning's paper and find my name left off the list of the new fact-finding committee on our ability to pay Europe. Baruch telephones me of his relief also. Had we been on the list it would have been difficult enough to refuse.

My advices are that Marshall resents my epistles to Taber and Bridges as intrusions on his exclusive field the making of foreign policies. Vandenberg is also upset and poisons Marshall.

Marshall consulted Baruch on this committee plan. Marshall's proposal was that Baruch and I should be joint chairmen of this study group. Baruch, from previous discussion with me, and following our previous recommendations to Truman as early as 1945, proposed that they should set up an over-all economic council with authority to deal with all foreign economic policies subject to the President. This council was to include Marshall as Chairman, together with Secretaries Anderson, Harriman, Patterson and Snyder, and two to four citizens, free of administrative duties who would spend their time thinking. Such a council through the Department's members would have authority. Apparently, Marshall did not want any such real participation. He would even now be better advised to set up such an authoritative council for the announced purposes of (a) Evaluating the information of his various committees and determining of policies to be pursued in connection with them; (b) An independent determination of foreign claims of the real need of those countries; (c) A determination of our over-all policies in the light of their need and of our resources.

This set-up implies authority and not mere advice or political front. Marshall will get a demand for three times what the American people can, or will, give. Reducing such demands will be a painful moment for him. I have gone through such affairs before.

The General has never dealt with the politicians of Europe who under the present desperate circumstance of their countries are even more desperately selfish than ever before. He apparently believes that they move from the same altruism which animates this more comfortable land of our own. Already he has a taste of what they can do to him in their insistence in bringing into the European set up Russia -- all of which is the negation of the Truman Doctrine. It can result in good if the Russians have repented. It can also result in a new era of appeasement.

The Taber letter has done two things. It has shown the country that there is another foreign policy [other] than the isolationism of McCormick and the appeasement of Wallace. These forces were both making headway because of no determined Administration move for peace, and because of their appeal to the American yearning for peace. Another accomplishment was to get from Taber's Committee the $720,000,000 relief for Germany and Japan which Patterson, by letter, which I enclose for your confidential reading, acknowledges they would never have succeeded in doing otherwise. Still another accomplishment was to show Republicans that there were constructive ideas besides those of the Republican crumb-eaters of the State Department. Every press group -- the New York Times and Tribune, the Chicago Tribune, the Daily News, the Scripps-Howard and the Hearst papers -- in fact, over 400 papers supported it editorially, it being about the only time they have ever agreed on anything.

Marshall should also be grateful for the Bridges letter. It saves him from his set-up in Europe of a psychology of unlimited demands and subsequent disappointments and recriminations. Further, it will secure for the Administration the continuance of export and import controls as to which there was otherwise great doubt. It has also had astonishing press support.

Truman's vetoes are likely to create two situations. First, desertion of many Republicans from cooperation with him in the foreign field; second, before he is done with the situation, a greater yearning on the part of the Administration for Republican help and an awakening that the publicity crumb-eaters cannot deliver the Republicans.

Julius [Klein] was no ghost writer of the Bridges letter. He carefully checked my figures but made not a single word of suggestion as to the text.

Yours faithfully,

[Enclosures Not In File]


Even though he opposed some elements of the Marshall Plan, Hoover did not oppose the War Department's request for $725 million in food relief and other assistance and he had said as much in his letters to Taber and Senator Styles Bridges. When the appropriation passed the House on July 18, Hoover telegraphed Baruch: "Your friend should credit me with one good deed." Baruch passed Hoover's message to the Secretary of State who sent Hoover this terse letter of thanks.

The Secretary of State
July 21, 1947

Dear Mr. Hoover:

Thank you very much for your assistance. It was good of you to help, and I am strengthened by the thought of your continued support.

Faithfully yours,


On November 4, Hoover received a telegram from Stimson inviting him to join the Citizen's Committee for the Marshall Plan. The former president declined on November 7 because he was not sure that the plan contained sufficient "safeguards." "Until General Marshall states his plan in full," Hoover concluded. "I would rather not have my name used." Stimson replied on November 12 that he was confident that the Marshall Plan "will not permit indiscriminate giving or giving without proper safeguards." Stimson asked Hoover for more information on what the former president regarded as essential safeguards. There is no evidence that Hoover responded.

November 4, 1947

Herbert Hoover:
Care Waldorf Astoria Hotel

We Americans today face a challenging opportunity, perhaps the greatest ever offered to a single nation. It is nothing less than a chance to use our full strength for the peace and freedom of the world. Such an effort entails a rebuilding of the economies of the war shattered nations. The reconstruction of Europe is a task from which Americans can decide to stand apart only if they wish to desert every principle by which they claim to live. As a decision of policy, it would be the most tragic mistake in our history. We must take part in this work; we must take our full part; we must be sure that we do enough. We should act quickly. The penalty of delay in reconstruction is to increase the size of the job and to multiply difficulties. We require a prompt and large scale program.

The government must lead the way but we who are private citizens must support that leadership. The sooner we act, the surer our success and the less it will cost us. If you agree with this program, will you join with me and Dean Acheson, Winthrop W. Aldrich, Herbert H. Lehman, Robert P. Patterson, Philip D. Reed, John Winant and other friends in a Citizens Committee for the Marshall Plan. I would. appreciate a telegraphic reply collect to Robert P. Patterson, 8 West Fortieth Street, New York City. Please keep this message confidential until we are able here to announce the organization of our committee.

Chairman, Committee For
the Marshall Plan


Hoover received an invitation to be the first witness at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on the Marshall Plan. Although eager to express his views, he declined to be the first speaker. "I do not wish to be classed in the press as opposing General Marshall," he wrote to Senator Arthur Vandenberg on Christmas Eve, "for like you, I think his hands on the major issue ought to be upheld." As an alternative, he would "prepare a short and careful memorandum for the Committee on what I think about the [Marshall Plan] rather than risk the disintegrated and distorted reports which come out of a public hearing." Hoover sent the following memorandum to Vandenberg on January 18 and it was released to the press four days later.

There is no record in his engagement calendar that Hoover met with Vandenberg to discuss the memorandum and there is no indication that Hoover believed that any of his suggestions would be considered controversial. In fact, the former president was on his annual Florida vacation when the memorandum was delivered to Vandenberg and released to the press.

When Hoover returned to New York on February 5 he was greeted with a critique of his memorandum by the Committee for the Marshall Plan to Aid European Recovery, the very organization that Stimson had invited him to join three months earlier. Upset with what he believed to be an unfair attack, Hoover wrote to Robert Patterson, a key member of the committee, on February 9 asking for a "public rectification" of the statement. Patterson wrote back with a letter of apology on the thirteenth. It is not clear if the committee ever issued a retraction, but Hoover took it upon himself to send a copy of his letter and Patterson's reply to every member of the committee. (The complete text of Hoover's letter to Vandenberg is in Addresses Upon the American Road, 1945-1948 [New York, 1949], pp.120-130.)

January 18, 1948

My dear Senator:

I have your request that I should present to the Foreign Relations Committee my views on the proposed "Economic Cooperation Administration" for aid to 16 Western European countries.

First of all I wish to make clear my conviction that we should help to the full extent which does not weaken our own economy and thus defeat all world recovery . . .

We must take some risks, and I should have liked to be able to give unqualified endorsement of the E.C.A. as presented to the Congress. I am compelled, however, by conscience to say that the plan as presented should have certain constructive modifications and more safeguards . . .

Such power should not be placed in the hands of any one man or any one department of our government. Obviously the administrative work involved should be conducted by one man. But its policies should be directed by a group, no doubt including department heads, but also including non-official citizens. The proposals of Congressman Christian Herter insofar as they imply group conclusions come nearer to meeting this requirement.

I assume it is intended to carry out this operation as a bipartisan enterprise, for only thus can we hope for success. There is far too much at stake to permit partisan approach. If these policies are to be bipartisan, then the members of this board or commission should be selected by prior consultation with the Congressional leaders . . .

The plan originally proposed an authorization to E.C.A. of 17 billion dollars and a four-year program. The first 15-months' appropriation is proposed at 6.8 billion. But in addition to this; we are committed to Western Germany, Japan, Korea, and possibly China, and perhaps others, for supplies amounting to about 2 billion in this same period of 15 months, or a total of nearly 9 billion dollars.

It was prudent not to require that commitments be made by the United States at the present time for more than the first 15 months, until July 1, 1949. We cannot even hazard what the export and financial possibilities of the United States will be for more than a year in advance. Food being the largest item in the whole program, we can only judge from harvest to harvest. Nor can we long forecast our industrial production. Furthermore, we cannot tell in advance the requirements of each of these countries to which it is proposed to extend aid. They, too, are dependent upon their harvests; they are dependent upon cooperation between governments, and upon their labor and many other elements for which we cannot fix a financial or commodity commitment.

Even a moral commitment to a four-year program is unwise. We cannot enforce ideas upon other self-governing peoples, and we should keep ourselves entirely free to end our efforts without recrimination. The United States will at all times aid against hunger and cold. The fact that we have already spent probably 20 billions upon this purpose since this war and over 5 billions after the last war should be sufficient assurance that we will continue to support right-thinking peoples in the future . . .

It is not an answer to say that under this plan large amounts of American money will be sued for purchases of commodities in other countries on behalf of recipient nations and thus relieve export pressure upon the United States. These other countries thus receiving our money will wish to transform that money into goods from the United States. If we refuse export certificates for all or part of their demands because we do not have the goods, either our money will go to a discount, or we will necessarily enter obligations to pay those nations at some future date. Thus the United States will in effect be borrowing money abroad to finance this program.

It is an illusion that scarcity and thus increasing inflation can be more than temporarily retarded by compulsory fixing of wages, prices and rationing. Aside from the reduction of primary freedoms involved, history and our national experience prove that any such course sets up chain reactions which ultimately decrease production and defeat their very purpose. A part of Western Europe's present difficulties is due to these practices.

The only safe road for us is not to over-export. We can to some extent increase the amounts available for export and hold prices by adopting strong voluntary conservation measures; by using voluntary restraints on prices and wages; by doing more and harder work with uninterrupted production. Such voluntary organization, if vigorously and systematically administered, avoids most of the evils of the coercive system.

If some of the imported quantities scheduled be reexamined in the light of supplies, if certain principles were established by Congress, if certain requirements were fixed, and if an effective business organization were set up, I am confident that the burden upon the American taxpayer could be lessened and our essential purpose accomplished . . .


With these various suggestions I believe it is possible considerably to reduce the burden upon our citizens and at the same time to assure the accomplishment of our national purpose.

Yours Faithfully,


The evening before a dinner with Marshall, Hoover dined with Joseph W. Martin, the Speaker of the House of Representatives. Martin invited Hoover to assess the latest version of the Marshall Plan, one that had passed the Senate and the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Hoover found that the revised plan included many of the safeguards he and others had recommended. The bill was not perfect and the former president took the opportunity to make improvements in the plan. (The complete text of this letter is in Addresses Upon the American Road, 1945-1948 [New York, 1949], pp.131-140.)

Washington, D.C.

The Honorable Joseph W. Martin, Speaker
House of Representatives
Washington, D.C.

My dear Mr. Speaker:

I have your request that I give to you my views and recommendations upon the Marshall Plan Bill as reported out of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.

On January 18th, at the request of Senator Arthur Vandenberg, I made an analysis of and recommendations as to the legislation originally presented by the Administration. Many members of the Congress, myself, and others urged its support in principle because of world conditions, but recommended that certain additional safeguards be introduced into the legislation. We believed these would make for more efficient administration, less drain upon the American taxpayer, less strain on our economy, and at the same time deliver the same volume of commodities to the Marshall Plan countries . . .

I realize that many approach this gigantic experiment with great apprehension and a realization of the sacrifices it will mean to our people. All legislation must be the result of compromise. However, if it should produce economic, political and self-defense unity in Western Europe, and thus a major dam against Russian aggression, it would stem the tide now running so strongly against civilization and peace. The plan, if well devised and under a capable Administrator, stands a good chance of success. I believe it is worth taking the chance.

Yours Faithfully,

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