Herbert Clark Hoover to Jane Addams, November 13, 1919



Herbert Hoover, Chairman,
115 Broadway, New York City.
Tel. Rector 7146

November 13 1919

Miss Jane Addams,
800 South Halsted Street,
Chicago, Illinois.

Dear Miss Addams:

I am in receipt of your letter of November 11th. I am afraid that I cannot agree with the memorial which you sent me. I know that it is difficult to do justice in the face of claims of humanity, but I, who have witnessed the ruthless theft of practically every milk cow from the invaded territory of Northern France and over one-half of the milk animals from Belgium during the war, cannot but believe the sympathy is misplaced in this matter.

It was sheerly due to the charity of the world that millions of children in Belgium and Northern France did not die as a result of this German action during the war. Also, the fact exists to my certain knowledge that there has been no decrease in the German dairy herd during the war. Germany has about as many milk cattle today as she had when the war began. It is true that she is short of fodder for these cattle, but this is a temporary matter than can be remedied.

At the present moment Belgium and Northern France are saving the lives of their children by feeding them on condensed milk, imported at enormous expense from the United States. I see no reason why the Germans should not be called upon to substitute condensed milk for their children and to give a certain number of cattle that will afford the terribly needed fresh milk for children of Belgium and Northern France. In fact, I am prepared to even assist in securing condensed milk supplies for under-nourished, [page 2] debilitated children in Germany, but it would appear to me to be a much more equitable thing for the people of sympathy to furnish this deficient milk supply out of their pockets, rather than to call upon the people of Belgium and France to do it.

Furthermore, until the Belgians and the French can get a return of the particular breeds of cattle stolen from them and from which they must build up their herds, there is no possible hope of their remedying their situation. If there was one spot of sentiment of repentance in Germany, there would voluntarily return sufficient stolen battles to enable these herbs to be rehabilitated.

Children simply cannot be properly reared on condensed milk and the whole attitude of Germany is that their children should have the advantage of fresh milk and the people to whom they have committed unnamed crimes should go on for years importing an inferior quality of food for their children.

It also has in it the large issue of the particular breeds of cattle apropos to climate and feed required to rehabilitate these herds and which cannot be obtained unless the Germans return this stolen cattle. You probably do not know that the Germans deliberately took all certain breeds of animals in the occupied territory and within the last few months have been advertising that they are the sole owners of certain breeds of horses and cattle formerly bred in the occupied territory and offering to sell such animals.

While I do not believe anyone can feel more sympathy in such matters than myself, I do not feel we ought to be carried away by allowing a thief to obtain the eternal advantage of his thefts. I do not believe the people who have signed this memorial have the remotest idea of what the real situation is, in which they are asking for remedy.

Faithfully yours,

(signed) Herbert Hoover.