Title: National Committee on Food for the Small Democracies Records,
Date (inclusive): 1939-1946
Collection number: XX404
National Committee on Food for the Small Democracies
Collection Size: 168 manuscript boxes, 1 card file box, 6 envelopes (71.2 linear feet)
Hoover Institution Archives
Stanford, California 94305-6010
Abstract: Correspondence, memoranda, reports, statements, pamphlets, serial issues, and photographs, relating to attempts to organize
and secure international agreement for a civilian relief program for Norway, Finland, the Netherlands, Belgium, and Poland
during World War II.
Collection open for research.
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[Identification of item], National Committee on Food for the Small Democracies Records, [Box no.], Hoover Institution
Acquired by the Hoover Institution Archives.
Materials may have been added to the collection since this finding aid was prepared. To determine if this has occurred, find
the collection in Stanford University's online catalog at
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of boxes listed in this finding aid.
Alternative Form Available
Also available on microfilm (121 reels).
World War, 1939-1945.
World War, 1939-1945--Belgium.
World War, 1939-1945--Civilian relief.
World War, 1939-1945--Finland.
World War, 1939-1945--Food question.
World War, 1939-1945--Netherlands.
World War, 1939-1945--Norway.
World War, 1939-1945--Poland.
World War, 1939-1945--United States.
United States--Foreign relations.
Hoover, Herbert, 1874-1964.
Kershner, Howard Eldred, 1891-
The presidential election over, we determined that the only
way relief could be brought to the women, children, and destitute in
the small democracies was to awaken public opinion in the neutral
countries to the inconsequential dangers from our proposals. Both the
British and Germans were sensitive to neutral opinions. They needed
actual support from the neutrals, or at least the continued neutrality
of these nations.
On November 18, 1940, we launched an organization called "The
National Committee on Food for the Small Democracies." In Addition to
myself as Honorary Chairman the original membership comprised those
who had taken part in the famine relief of forty five countries after
World War I. However, we were soon joined by one thousand leading
Americans. The purpose of the committee was: to raise a voice on
behalf of Finland, Norway, Holland, Belgium and Central Poland so that
agreements may be made by the German and British Governments with a
- (a) by which their domestic food supplies can be protected from the occupying armies;
- (b) by which supplemental supplies can be imported through the German and British blockades and protected;
- (c) to secure the efficient operation of such a neutral organization.
To the end that the lives of millions of children, women and
men can be saved from the inevitable famine and pestilence which
confront them, and that renewed hope may be given to them in the
ideals of mankind.
I was asking for no gifts, no government appropriations, no use
of American ships.
The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, brought
the United States into the war. Our relief organization had been
repudiated by the exiled governments. Now at war, we could not act
without the approval of our own government. Our National Committe on
Food for the Small Democracies decided to suspend activities, but to
resume if opportunity came. We sent word to the exiled governments
that, now free from any embarrassment from us, they should secure
permission directly to relieve their people at home.
But they got no relief.
It was not until three and one-half years later, when Mr. Truman
became President in April, 1945, that American Government policies
changed and became compassionate about relief of famine.
From Herbert Hoover,
An American Epic, Vol. IV)