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Register of the National Committee on Food for the Small Democracies Records, 1939-1946
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Administrative Information
  • Access Points
  • Historical Note

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: National Committee on Food for the Small Democracies Records,
    Date (inclusive): 1939-1946
    Collection number: XX404
    Creator: National Committee on Food for the Small Democracies
    Collection Size: 168 manuscript boxes, 1 card file box, 6 envelopes (71.2 linear feet)
    Repository: 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.
    Language: English.

    Administrative Information


    Collection open for research.
    The Hoover Institution Archives only allows access to copies of audiovisual items. To listen to sound recordings or to view videos or films during your visit, please contact the Archives at least two working days before your arrival. We will then advise you of the accessibility of the material you wish to see or hear. Please note that not all audiovisual material is immediately accessible.

    Publication Rights

    For copyright status, please contact the Hoover Institution Archives.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], National Committee on Food for the Small Democracies Records, [Box no.], Hoover Institution Archives.

    Acquisition Information

    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 http://searchworks.stanford.edu/ . Materials have been added to the collection if the number of boxes listed in the online catalog is larger than the number of boxes listed in this finding aid.

    Alternative Form Available

    Also available on microfilm (121 reels).

    Access Points

    International relief.
    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-

    Historical Note

    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 neutral organization--
    • (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)