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tv   Herbert Hoover and World War I Humanitarian Aid  CSPAN  August 1, 2015 9:00am-11:00am EDT

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panel discussion is the history of the commission. herbert hoover's leadership, and the american volunteers who went to belgium to help here the herbert hoover presidential library and museum hosted this event. it is about two hours. >> it is my very great pleasure to introduce the speakers. i've known them for quite some time. at my age, quite some time, mean something definite number of years between five and 10. i came to the library to do research on various aspects on the relief in belgium, and i am thrilled to give him a chance to share what he has learned with you. when i get to the world war i era and talk about the crv i speak of over feeding millions -- hooever feeding millions, who for organizing, hoover hoover. and perhaps understandably, it is the hoover presidential library, but even as a give the speech, i realize i'm doing a disservice to the hundreds of
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americans and thousands of europeans who formed the boots on the ground for the commission of relief of belgium. these people had studied those thousands of studies, and these quarter have been a study of north america to share that with you today. our first speaker is branden little. he was working the tracing different files and found an early history of the crv. this led, as all good stories, to further research, further inquiry. he has written a book called band of crusaders. his book covers 50 years of humanitarian relief and explains what i call this creation story of the crv in the context of many competing agencies, difficulties of feeding people during world war i. it makes clear the special role, the pivotal role played by the
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crv and shaping later humanitarian efforts. i added, thanks to brandon, a new phrase what i do my tours and i speak of this band of crusaders. jeff miller, our second speaker, came to hoover some time ago, to discuss the possibility of donating his grandfather's books to the library. his grandfather, milton brown, was deeply involved in the crv. in addition to the goats, he kept a diary and had all of his letters, and have other diaries as well. he also said he would like to write a history, but he's letters, and have other diaries anxious about fitting it into the larger context. there's a lot of history here. i said, wait, follow me. there is brandon, sitting 20 feet away, i'm going to introduce you to a guy who knows a lot about this.
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they have been collaborating ever since. and just wrote this book, find the lines, and what was going to be a one book project is now three. it is a great fine read. it is a great tale, but told well. kirkus reviews, for those of you in the academic audience names this one of its best books of 2014. it is available in our gift shop, $16.95. jeff lawlor grow if you ask him nicely. tom westermann came to hoover library and hoover foundation grant well working on his phd in utah. the research laid the groundwork for his article, during occupied belgium, humanitarian work and leisure. he put a face on humanitarian
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spirit i often think of them as ethereal, larger-than-life bigger and better than human people. he talks about these as men, young man, or now across the water for the first time, in addition to their relief work are just tourists. engaging with the builder community in many different ways. the progress of optimism, and the transition from young men into a professional overseeing food relief. this forged for the new men a new identity. they were hoover men until the day they died. the final link to the shamus on -- in this chain is tom himself, he was in belgium, studying, as a postgraduate.
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the bal fellows was created out of the remaining money when the crv is incorporated in 1920. it was hoover's idea that time to create an exchange program to bring elton scholars to america and american scholars to belgium. it has gone on for 95 years. it is assisted almost 4000 scholars in the 95 years our final speaker is tammy proctor. she came to the room library sometime ago to do research on civilians in world war i. over the next two years her cap and mine and my wife's kept crossing. she to do research on a foundation grant, my wife and i spoke at her college on the archives of the shaping of history, a grand to her topic that we enjoyed. we running enjoy each other since then.
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she has written women and espionage, civilians in the first world war, scouting for girls with centennial history of girl guides and scout, and on my owner. i read her article on the destruction rebuilding of the library in belgium after world war i, between the wars. i thought i knew this topic well. i came away with three new ideas. hats off to teaching something i do not knew about itself is not a new well. our symposium is being held today in conjunction with our summer exhibit, making the great humanitarian, over and world war one. this band of crusaders lets that does he and he will call when an appreciation of the crv is most effective human angels.
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[applause] dr. little: thank you for having me here today. it is an honor and a is you just think with you. this is one of the best archival facilities in the entire world. i researched in many different places around the world. i think it has no finer staff and their professionalism, the courtesy, and their interest in historical research. they are unmatched unparalleled. thank you for incubating at facilitating and making historians job, sometimes tedious, a thorough enjoyable
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process. have you ever wondered when the idea emerged that in the middle of a war, natural disaster, the humanitarian aid would be forthcoming? a flurry of organizations from around the world would rush to save lives? we expect such things today. this is not always so. when did this humanitarian wakening begin? over a decade ago i became interested in these questions by stumbling across humanitarian aid is a project and looking specifically at the way in which america does this. this is the story i had never heard before, and are emitted captivated still. the individuals featured on the slide some of those very same
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individuals who helped to feed a nation during an era prior to the internet, prior to the convenience of cellular phones and a whole host of other technologies. front and center of courses herbert hoover. i plan to tell a story that reveals when the idea of saving lives amidst catastrophe emerged full force. it began a decade ago, and continues still today. let us first consider some of the immediate catalyst humanitarian aid. across the globe, aid to soldiers of the understood would be armed why the violence of war. communities also offered into
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civilians and the reason being that total war and the first world war involved entire societies. these became a source of humanitarian concern. a second catalyst for humanitarian intervention was the refugee, or the person of the refugee. if you pay attention to use coming from libya or syria today, you know all about refugees. the first world war, the rover 15 million people displaced from their homes. the united states, the very first weeks of the war, would dispatch a relief commission the worship here is the flagship
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-- the warship is the flagship of the u.s. tennessee. it is alleviated the exodus of 125,000 americans that were stranded in europe the weakening of the war. the dramatic departure of this ship and the nature of americans being stranded in your, awakened american society to this refugee crisis and the broader humanitarian dimensions of this larger conflict. it is hard not to pay attention to the refugee crisis in the united states. it was permanently an immigrant nation, much more so then then perhaps. -- than perhaps today. the third catalyst in the wakening of american interests and intervention was the imminent starvation donation tract between the warring coalitions. this is a poor story that features herbert hoover's unlikely interest by his acceptance of belgian entreaties to organize a national food relief program for the 9 million belgians and frenchman living in
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german occupied territory. this program was called the commission for relief in belgium, the crv, and the focus of my colleagues presentations today. the central point i would like to make is that it is a successful nation feeding operations encouraged imitators, a pioneering drivingly you of -- the rockefeller foundation, a giant in philanthropy and public health. in poland, based on the model that hoover had forged in belgium. you can see members of the rockefeller foundation, engaging with german officials as they negotiate at the attempted formation for a crp for poland. it shows the global flows of
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food to belgium under the auspices of the crv. the crb solicited american a. -- the crb embolden populations to solicit american aid. it awakens the idea that they were a part of generosity. people became habituated to asking americans for a based on what he was showing in belgium. feeding belgium was an extraordinary complicated as improbable. the success was unlikely given the extraordinary child is that -- the extraordinary challenges the war continued to present. because it was so successful people understood it was at least possible to aid populations during the war.
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not just after but during her because they demonstrated it was possible, people started to expect that it should be doable and forthcoming. not just could but should be forthcoming. this principle of relief in the midst of calamity was forever entrenched in international opinion. we live in a world shaped powerfully by that expectation. belgian relief also shaped and influence u.s. war policy. by convincing americans as defenders of embattled civilian populations. the theme of interception on behalf of victims of the war and aggression resonated in woodrow wilson's war message to congress in 1917 in which he proclaimed to the need to make the world safe for democracy and to protect the rights of small nations. but you could translate simply as stopping aggressors and helping the vulnerable. these are noble goals, indeed.
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here on the left, you can see a closer -- this is a u.s. liberty loan poster that came about after the united states declared war on germany. and it invokes the concept of remembering german atrocities in belgium. a story with which all americans had become familiar. and it did takes basically the flames of the belgian city and a german soldier carrying off a young belgian girl to do dastardly crimes. this notion of wartime remembrance was a powerful mobilizing tool for americans who are accustomed to remember such things as remember the alamo, remember the main, remember belgium and fights to liberate belgians who are under the steel-toed boots of german oppression. on the far right, we see a u.s. food administration poster. the root administration was actually farmed during wartime by herbert hoover and his associates. many of the crv personnel helping -- ended up helping to
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organize the food administration that managed national food production and consumption in a way that would satisfy the voracious appetites of allied forces as well as the beleaguered peoples who americans had been feeding for a number of years already. and that is the message of the poster. hunger for three years america has fought starvation in belgium. eat less food to continue to provide the demands of the allied war machine. you have already been doing it. keep doing more of it. now, the end of the war i'll back up for a moment. policemen and firemen of the world. what do i mean by that? recently, teddy roosevelt when he was present at advance a concept of americans becoming a world police force, arguing that americans should intervene wherever there is unrest around the world for the sake of instilling stability and peace. guess what?
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during world war i, we can amplify this concept because of the humanitaricy of so many distressed peoples, i would argue that the american population embraces the idea that they become the firemen of the world, too to extremist the flames of war and revolution. now, the end of war, which was singled by an armistice in 1918 did not do much to stop the misery. no better illustration of the endearing - enduring humanitarian to test if he can be found in the necessity to forge a larger humanitarian organization to feed even more distressed peoples in the aftermath of the war. this was called the american relief administration or the a.r.a. the a.r.a. was a bit like the crv but on steroids. it was bigger and more powerful and it was a hybrid, and u.s. governmental, military, and private organization that sent tens of millions, tens of
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millions of malnourished people in 20 war devastated countries between 1919 and 1924. the map and the poster in the foreground feature distribution channels in soviet russia in the early 1920's. hooeverver and his associates formed the leadership of these organizations for the u.s. food administration and the american relief administration because they had already developed the expertise. there are other organizations that tried to replicate what hoover and his associates were doing. one of these is the u.s. international committee of the red cross in operation in postwar greece. it failed miserably in its efforts. they could not matter. nobody had figured out the way to crack the hoover formula or follow that recipe. one of the essential links to what i call the ongoing revolution in military -- and
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humanitarian affairs is the way in which emergency relief in the form of food and medical distribution necessitated larger economic reconstruction initiatives simply to deliver supplies or emergency supplies e n masse. today we call this nation building. across the continent of europe the a.r.a. rebuilt or improved national railway seaports and telecommunication systems to facilitate the distribution of emergency supplies in tremendous quantities. so combating famine require two things -- one, an organization that could actually perform the work and sedcond it required developing an infrastructure and revitalizing the economic infrastructure that would permit the distribution of relief supplies. which meant that american relief administrators work so closely and were so in mashed in european economics and politics that they understoodandlyably chase
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local sensibilities were ever they worse, even though they were working to save people's lives. from the standpoint of american aid organizers, their efforts to safeguard lives endangered by war would be absolutely wasted if stable foundations for peace were not insured. -- ensured. by laying the groundwork for stable political and economic development. that diminish the likelihood of a recurrence of war. so remaking european society thoroughly infused all americans marriage humanitarian. it's in this conflict. -- in this conflict. what is the take away from the perspective of americans who do this relief work? certainly some ambulance drivers such as the literary giants ernest hemingway or john does passos saw their fill of c
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arnag ande wrote stories that created lingering impressions that americans wanted to distance themselves from a perpetually war racked european society. in stark contrast, hoover's veterans, veterans of hoover's organizations did not feel the work was in vain, and photographs of belgian children eating food and smiling with the stars and stripes on the left confirmed for americans the value of ingratiating foreign populations and developing in cultivating a love for america due to american generosity. now, the memoirs of american humanitarians associated with hoover their letters to family and friends, their correspondents their diaries even their obituaries testified to their firm conviction that the most meaningful work they ever did and some of these become senior american officials, was saving the lives of children. we can find that type of
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evidence actually at the hoover presidential library in his collections. hoover's deputies, disciples would be a better word, in the crb forged a lifelong fraternity. they maintained alumni networks and kept in constant contact. something i will pick up on drawn later in my presentation also. hoover called these individuals a band of crusaders. they called him their chief. they remained devoutly loyal to him for the rest of their lives. the great depression and its harmful effects on hoover's reputation did little to dampen their enthusiasm for his leadership. rarelyd do historians or readers of history considered hoover a charismatic individual, but his crusaders felt differently. they truly did. and there was one observer of hoover in this era who recognizes contrast between two diversion views of hoover.
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and his name was joseph willard, the american ambassador to spain. in his post war diary, he described hoover as possessing "no personal magnetism." [laughter] but willard that knowledge, everyone who ever worked for hoover had become devoted admirers. not only did hoover's crusaders attract and attach themselves to their chief and remain devotees of his statesmanship for the rest of their lives, but several of them became central figures in some of the world leading humanitarian agencies later in their lives. the hooverians as i call them, the hoover men, were not the only individuals involved in international aid. they were not. but what distinguishes them from the conservationist and leadership of so many other relief societies is that the hooverians constituted a united front. irrespective of u.s. governmental international or
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private relief activities with which they were associated, well into the middle 20 a century the hooverians acted in concert to advance, and gender in accordance with their chief's principles related to international security. actually on the far right you see an a.r.a annual dinner from when? march 1941. not for this -- not far before the united states entered world war ii. these are individuals still getting together on an annual basis to maintain the relationships they had maintained in a previous war. imagine they will join together again when the second world war breaks out. geopolitical hoover'ssb band and many officials in the u.s. government ascribed to the contain jim carrey of international relations. the line of reasoning of this contagion theory as i would frame it goes something like
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this -- war revolution, natural disaster governmental misrule produces great distress. and that distress breeds radicalism leads to unrest and potentially violence. and consequently hoover is deeply concerned that world war i would produce radicalism, produce violence, produce instability and perhaps even encourage populations that are beleaguered by famine and other difficulties to embrace political pathologies like communism. he was noe alt alone. pedro woodrow wilson would stad - - president woodrow wilson would state that hunger breeds madness. in order to arrest the spread of disaster american aid needed to be injected if they -- if we used a medical metaphor, and
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inoculation to cure these at once. in the short-term, it might hurt but in the long term you receive greater protection. now, the essence of hoover's thinking and world war i and in world war ii is this -- if you give a man brad, he will not turn red. -- if you give a man bread. it did not turn out so well in soviet russia for hoover in the 1920's but his confidence in this formula of american aid provides a baseline of stability so that prosperity can be achieved. that formula he remains unflinchingly convinced up for the rest of his life and his disciples did, too. now, these ideas formed and world war i and they picked up again in world war ii, particularly when hitler's armies went on the rampage. and as soon as war broke out the second world war hoover's network reconstituted itself. they formed a second commission for relief in belgium. they formend a commission for
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relief in poland and a a finnish relief fund, they formed a national committee on food for the small democracies which are now occupied by hitler's armies. so they reconstituted their organizations or tried to but discovered some impediments, and that was ultimately the opposition of president roosevelt and the opposition of prime minister churchill to permitting aid on a scale in a similar fashion to the kind that was offered in belgium and world war i. roosevelt and churchill simply blocked it. these organizations in their infancy or the renewed infancy work in the words of one hooverian "dotted with former crb men." surprise surprise. the individuals wanted to reconstitute the former organizations and help the people they saved before. daunted and that inability to reduce large organizations, most
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of the hooverians found their ways into the meaningful work in world war ii. one directed the american red cross. another directed u.s. government policy with respect to war charities. a third or several of them managed and designed military government curriculum programs to train u.s. officers how to manage conquered territories and liberated territories. where did they gain this expertise and their credit ability? from their expenses and world war i. during the second world war hoover and his japanese labor to awaken american society to an impending disaster at war's end -- and his deputies labor to awaken american society. diseases would spread. that communism would spread. and they wanted to avert all of those disasters by laying effective foundations for a durable peace. few americans in the war years
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are in the immediate aftermath of the war listen to them. revenge was an animating impulse or the desires for revenge. few people wanted to consider the possibility of treating the germans or especially the japanese in a nice way at war 's end. by 1947, something dramatic it happen. the occupied peoples of the axis countries, in germany and japan were in such desperation that a group weary and angry and american occupation generals understood this and sent war warnings to washington, d.c. and said, "please and food, because otherwise you need to send troops to maintain security in our occupied zones." america had a lot of food, they did not have a lot of troops as the armies were demobilizing. hoover also warned about postwar famine conditions, endangering the lives of 1/3 of the world of the population. 1/3 of the world, hoover claimed, were at risk of starvation.
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if this was not just his own idea. he had traveled with president truman's endorsement to evaluate world conditions and economic conditions and basically to formulate recommendations that are merged into what comes to be called more popularly the marshall plan. critically, we can see here one of the reports that hoover would pen, in that sense, here he is tracing through the ruins of a german city. collectively, though, hoover's warnings help create a crisis mentality in washington that triggered a response and ultimately congress and the agencies of the government would work to create this marshall plan, but we have overlooked something essential, which this vital program, called the marshall plan, and that requires well for a population to do reconstruction work. hoover understood this first and foremost. if there is not food, the people
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will not have the strength to rebuild anything. we could ask ultimately who are the people who did this work who are the hooverians? let's highlight a few biographies of some central figures in u.s. government and related agencies during the second world war and beyond. on the upper right, with a fellow named maurice pate. he started in the crb. he worked in poland with the ara, and the second world war, he worked in a variety of organizations in conjunction with his chief, who was hoover. he does not find a ready job in those or entering one, so he direct the american red cross care packages, shipping food all over the world. he had already learned how to do it. after the war and as a result of his wartime exercises, he would become the executive director for a new international direction called unicef. he remains in that position for 18 years until he dies in 1965.
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everything he did in his life, he credited to hoover. hallam tuck would also start in the crb. in world war ii, he did the same types of things that pate did, although he worked in military government programs in the u.s. navy and army. he became an international refugee expert, and he directed a new organization called the international refugee organization, establishes that to settle all the displaced people across europe during world war ii. those jobs then become the u.n. high commission for refugees and the work agency, both of which are alive and well today. arthur ringland started a little later working for hoover under the american relief administration. during the second world war, he managed u.s. policy in the state department but with respect to world charities to make them more efficient.
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from that position, he would be founding father of a new organization called c.a.r.e. established in 1945 to do what? send care packages overseas. where does he get the idea for c.a.r.e.? from the ara, and the ara provided the explicit model for c.a.r.e. these are in essence private initiatives supported fully by their friend in congress. on the bottom left, there is a fellow named christian herter in his younger years, and a fellow named alex smith in his older years. fellows in new jersey and massachusetts would help fund all -- funnel and finance american dollars and policy support for hooverians initiatives after world war ii. who funds unicef? u.s. government initially because people like herter and
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smith understand prosperity and peace through food security. it is these acts and others, also funds unicef to send milk overseas to children. evidenced by letters, from pate to his friend alex in the u.s. senate, is continuing the wisdom to send dollars to unicef. it is not because they are friends -- they just agreed upon the work. these guys ultimately shaped u.s. policy to encourage american money for development programs, to encourage american initiatives in the developing world as well as even to encourage american military intervention in certain countries all to inject a measure of stability a la teddy roosevelt.
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what does it leave us with? in the first world war, all of this released up as ad hoc. nobody expects to do it again, they do not want to do it again, but when world war ii rolls around and the cold war persists as a strategic stalemate, the hooverians decide to institutionalize these. you can take a selection from just about any president since and look at some key themes and basically they all empathize either truman, kennedy, or obama today, americans have a special interest in the role in the will. -- a special intercessory role in the world. they are concerned from rebuilding from disasters, man-made and otherwise. they're concerned about democratization initiatives, strategically foreign aid programs, selective military aid intervention, and a diverse array of humanitarian activities. we could call this perhaps the
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ongoing revolution in humanitarian affairs. thank you. [applause] mr. miller: that was a great speech. now for something completely different. [laughter] thank you, matt, very much, and the herbert hoover library for having me today, and all of you who are here today. you do not of how much i appreciate being here, and part of that appreciation comes from one-day i spent in washington, d.c. a year ago. it was october 22, 2014, which
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was the 100 year anniversary of the founding of the crb by herbert hoover and a small band of men. last year i was in washington to attend an event by the belgian embassy to honor this year of the anniversary. it was a cold, miserable, wet day, and the event was going to happen in the evening, and i had all day to kill in washington. without anything to do on the spur of the moment, i decided i would talk my way into seeing someone, anyone, at the headquarters, the national headquarters of npr radio. i was sure that my smooth talking ways would get me in to see somebody. i had a story to tell, and i would not be denied. did i succeed? thank you for asking that question. [laughter] i am here to report what we all know -- some stories have happy endings, others not so happy. i have to tell you, though, that after close to a half-hour of
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negotiations, not unlike those between hoover and the germans 100 years before, i was personally escorted out of the building by the female armed guard. [laughter] while i did not win that day, i can guarantee you one thing -- by the time i was tossed out on that cold, miserable, wet day, that guard knew one thing that a lot of other americans do not know -- she knew what the crb stands for. that's why i appreciate being here today because it is probably safe to say that there are more people in this room that understand what the crb now especially because of his speech, then in all of the npr building and possibly in washington, d.c. so as for the story that i wanted to tell npr, it is the same incredible humanitarian story that all of us are going to tell you today in our own separate ways.
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i will touch on those early years of the war, august 1914 through december 1914, and relate some of the stories about two belgians in a few of the crb delegates, all of whom i call first responders. my story starts with this woman right here, erica bunge. she was my grandmother. edward bunge had started the bunge shipping company, which included products from agricultural. it still exists today and is on the new york stock exchange. to show you how big he was, just before the war started, he had just secured a contract to supply the russian army with boots, the largest standing army in the world -- i believe -- at that time.
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in 1914, two of the bunge sisters had already married and moved away, so erica and her two other sisters, eva and hilde lived with their father, who had lost his wife years before and had never remarried. do you know the pbs series "downton abbey"? of course we do, we love that show. they are the three tv sisters, here are the three edward bunge sisters. here is the house, downton abbey, the humble abode, and here is the château oude gracht it was called, where my grandfather, erica, and her two sisters live theater the château oude gracht is the house they had 20 minutes outside of antwerp. the bunges also had a townhouse in the city.
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both sets of sisters lived very privileged lives before the war. the difference between the two sets of sisters is that the edward bunge sisters -- they all lived through the invasion and occupation of belgium, and they became part of the humanitarian relief that followed. as all of you probably know, when the germans came into belgium on august 4, the country was thrown into an credible panic. all public transportation shutdown, all communication was shut down. there was no official news from anybody. rumors spread like wildfire. i am fortunate enough to have erica's diaries, correspondence, her photos she took over 100 years ago, as well as some of the documents from edward bunge, and they helped me give a window into this time. i am going to share with you just a few of the entries that she had in her diary. on the day before the invasion a day of terror in antwerp, the
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situation is very great, the germans have moved into belgium and are coming from the north. we started to pack up everything, and then we waited for news from father, who had to go to brussels. at last a telegram by phone -- news of the german invasion is denied. not a german shoulder and delta. -- not a german soldier in belgium. the day of the invasion, there is no more telephone for private people, the street is torn up and places, and we cannot get through. in the city, there have been demonstrations against germans or the german consulate's windows have been broken, also those of the german school. stones and letters were used. the next day -- all german civilians were thrown out of antwerp in the night. we are living from day-to-day. my god, don't let this war lifelong. -- last long. the next day -- news is rare and everything is contradictory -- what a great line that is. we do not know anything officially. today, we hear pessimistic news for the first time. there are many wounded, things are going badly.
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we really don't hear anything definite. a few days later -- no official news. where are the allies? the waiting is awful here and we cannot do anything. we have 600 belgium soldiers on the escape, 200 infantry, -- 400 infantry and 200 artillery, 15 are in the château, 450 grams of meat a day, one loaf of bread, and the rest -- 150 potatoes are taken per day. the next day -- where in the devil are the french? the next day -- still no news. we are desperate. still in her desperation, the three bunge sisters volunteer at area hospitals. this is a picture up on the right-hand side in the upper corner, erica bunge, and she did a picture of the wounded she was taking care of. she cared for patients who are badly burned. the bunges were in their townhouse when it was burned.
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when antwerp officials finally informed residents about the germans' plan for bombardment, tens of thousands of people panic and try to leave the city. this is a fantastic photo appeared in upper right-hand corner is a pontoon bridge with the last -- where are the bunges in this picture? they are not there. they state in the city, and they survived the three days of bombardment. the sisters worked in their hospitals, and edward bunge became one of only a handful of private citizens who help surrender the city to the germans, and the bunges, like the rest of belgium, -- then because of their position in the community joined in the effort to aid those less fortunate. edward bunge -- in belgium long before the war began, there was
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a tradition of the wealthy helping those who are less fortunate by forming or belonging to charitable groups and or giving money or items directly to the impoverished. when the war came, many of the wealthy committed their time and money to help relief efforts. edward bunge was no different. served as a vp of the antwerp provincial committee. one example of the personal contribution was coffee. edward bunge negotiate with the germans to allow him to buy a large cargo of coffee that was warehouse in antwerp, owned by the brazilian state of são paulo. he then got the germans to allow the coffee then to be given to the cn, so edward bunge bought it, give it to the cn, and the cn distributed around the country.
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he also held to the crb directly. he provided the crb office space in the downtown bank building that he had. he also opened the château oude gracht to the young crb men. opening the château is something that a lot of belgians -- belgium's wealthy did. why did they do that? i'm glad you asked. you guys are very smart. the delegates were some of the few outside of the military who were able to travel around the country of belgium in automobiles. back then in german occupied territories, there were no holiday inns to stop for the night here the wealthy belgians across the country would open up their châteaus for these delegates to start for the night.
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they provided food and bed and even loaned them their motorcars to the young delegates into a shipment of donated u.s. overland cars actually showed up. while all of this certainly sounds altruistic, there was a self-serving side as well. spontaneously -- the thought among some of the belgians were that if you and your property were associated with americans somehow that would guarantee that the germans treated you as little bit better. and there was a lot of truth to that thought, but there is also just as much truth to the fact that edward bunge was a very charitable man all of his life even when it did not serve him -- it did not have any self advantage. as for erica, she was a volunteer at the soup kitchen,
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she was a member of the little bees and worked in one of the children's canteens. erica was doing so much to help, but she wanted to do more. sometime in late 1914, early 1915, she and her father came up with an idea. what concerned them most was the young infants in the country. there are small they bees and young mothers who needed nutrition, and they needed as much as they could. the bunges wanted to help supply the antwerp children with milk. what they did what they got the germans to agree that they established and supervised a dairy farm. they convinced the germans to allow edward bunge to buy 100 dairy cows from holland and bring them into belgium. they supervise the construction of the dairy form on their property, and they organize all of the operation. erica, who had actually graduated from an english
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agricultural college before the war, she took on a to getting tas-- she took on the task of getting all of this up and running. these pictures -- i am sorry they are in really bad shape but they are very old, archival photos from my family. every morning, men would load these containers of milk onto wagons and take them into antwerp for distribution into children's canteens. after the war ended, erica was given a commendation by the belgian government for donating one million liters of milk to the children of antwerp. with all this relief work, you might find it surprising that she actually had some time to do one more important job -- she worked in the underground against the germans. unfortunately, that is where a whole other presentation, a whole other time. now i would like to turn to the other side of the belgian american equation relief. i want to spend a few minutes
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talking about the crb delegates. back in late october and november 1914, hoover sat in london facing incredible hurdles as he and his group tried to figure out how they were going to feed an entire nation. one of those challenges stem from a condition the british had put on relief. as some of you already probably know, the british demanded that neutral americans be allowed into belgium to supervise the food and relief so that it would not be taken -- would not be taken by the germans. when it came to this specific problem, hoover had a delegate. what would he find someone who would drop everything, work for free, going to occupied belgium, do a job that no one could explain in detail, and for extended period of time? hoover immediately recruited all available friends and associates in england and europe. most of those are executives who would become part of the crb executive team. where did he find boots on the ground to do the work inside
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belgium? before he had organized efforts, which would take weeks to get back over to europe, there were two rather unique sources from where he got men. serendipity, i call it, and oxford university. serendipity was -- excuse me -- by the middle to late november 10 to 15 american men had floated like flotsam onto a beach, and for some had to formally become crb delegates, they were called. a few examples of the serendipity are edward curtis. he was only 21 years old, born in boston, father well-to-do physician, harvard grad, cambridge student. he joined herbert hoover's aid, which then led right to the crb. he became the first courier for the crb, and he was the first non-executive delegate to enter
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belgium on november 1. when i say courier, there had to be a courier from holland into belgium. that courier became a very important part of the process. frederick w. meert was in belgium when the war broke out. he started november 12, took charge of the brabant province. he is the only delegate who started and ended in the same position in the entire delegation. one other person, this guy i want to have a beer with. i love this man. e.e. hunt. e.e. hunt was 29 years old, he was an old man compared to a lot of the men. he was a harvard grad, on the staff of american magazine, he has survived the fall of antwerp, and he had walked with the refugees from antwerp into
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holland. he had heard about the crb from the holland in the the staff -- embassy staff when he was researching other articles. on the 24th of november, he entered belgium to find out more about the crb, and then he returned december 11 and took charge of the antwerp province. the other place from where other men became part of the crb was oxford university. there were numerous american students studying in oxford. most of them were rhodes scholars. they would be leaving school soon for six weeks of winter break. galpin approached the crb after seeing an article about the crb's need. excuse me, i have to take a quick break. sorry. after a telegram from hoover on tuesday, november 24, galpin got together with fellow students, emil hollman and carlton bowden,
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to figure out if they wanted to get together. the first 10 oxford students agreed they would go into belgium. as you can imagine, it was relatively easy to get students to volunteer for this because it not only talked to their sense of wanting to help other people, but it talks to their sense of adventure, going into german-occupied belgium. as he mentioned sometime later most of the students had volunteered, and the spirit of adventure of more than a certain knowledge of the capabilities to fill the bill. that might account for the account that after the first 25 oxford students who did eventually go into belgium, six were not ever mentioned on any of the crb membership lists. i believe they washed out, had some kind of problem, and were
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asked quietly to leave belgium although there is no official record of that. at the time, no one had any idea of what the conditions were like in belgium or what the delegates were supposed to do when they got there. one wrote -- we had visions of sitting on boxcars, sleeping on the canal bridges, we excited to see the german savages prowling around ready at the slightest provocation to scalp women and children and perhaps provoke a quarrel with us for the same purpose. that is where it stood. one of the oxford students who became a crb delegate was only 19 years old, a few weeks later had his 20th birthday in belgium. think of it. college students going to the prison of belgium, having to
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face were hardened -- war-hardened german officers and button-down belgian businessman. it is a great story, and you cannot make this stuff up. face were hardened -- these occupy students along with the men who came with serendipity were some of the first responders. their experiences while in belgium were as varied as their own personalities. in most cases, that is because they created the job as they went along, adapting to local conditions, interpreting instructions from the crb london office, brussels office, and the committee national, belgium officials and german officers. that is six different bosses without even counting hoover in the occasion. everyone was as confused as to how relief was supposed to be done. it is a wonder anything -- want to know about hoover and the americans and belgians who got involved in this, you would know that chaos would be taken care of very quickly. hoover would not have had any
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other way. as for some of the individual stories, here are a couple i think that our illuminating. this is david t. nelson. 23 years old, born race in north dakota, taught in a one-room schoolhouse, and in the summer of 1914 traveled around saying goodbye to friends and family before he arrived in oxford in early october. this was an independent, self or laying young american who felt he could achieve anything if he only set his mind to it. he reflected what much of the country thought. this was a time when america was on the move. we had just finished the panama canal. no one had ever done this before. the country was filled with a tremendous self-confidence that only comes with not yet being completely tested or tried. as for nelson, it was right up his alley to go wander into a potentially dangerous unknown and figure out things as he went along. he jumped at the chance to join the crb and became one of the first 10 oxford students to it
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on saturday evening, december 5, he arrived with nine other fellow students in rotterdam. on monday, he was vying to be the sole delegate in liege. excuse me, i cannot figure out how to put accent marks in the powerpoint. his journey into belgium was not the easiest. he takes the train from rotterdam to the dutch border town of maastricht. without anyone to consult, he decides he needs to go confront these guys. the next day he gets a ride in a motorcar to the town where the train permits are being held up. he found someone who speaks english, dutch, and french because, he says, you need all to deal with a dutch official. he was not to kind thinking about dutch officials. he never liked dutch officials much at all. he convinces the train masters to send the train through, but
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he is not allowed to ride the train. you cannot find another motorcar right, and his suitcases too heavy to walk the 10 miles to walk to belgium, so he leaves it with the station master in hopes it will before it appeared so think about it come on that cold wednesday afternoon, december 9 1914, the sun is getting low in the sky, nelson without a suitcase and carrying only the clothes on his back, his wallet, id begins his lonely walk into german occupied belgium. he was probably wishing he had his indian motorcycle. i'm sure he did. the capital of flesh province of -- the flemish province of limberyg.
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they were driven there, checked into a hotel, and immediately begin working, contacting city officials, venturing out into the province, and setting up an office. kittredge later wrote in the crb history books, that some of this was all outsourced. warehouses and depots were being installed and protected. communications to be established within provinces and with brussels. meals to be controlled with acres to be constrained intomills to be controlled, makers to be constrained into living up to their contracts. there is a great book -- there is no book, but i would love to write a book about the bakers and how they had problems keeping up with the contract system. systems of distribution. local committees to be organized and induced to distribute food according to instructions and complaints to be investigated and difficulties for the germans to be smoothed out. with great understatement, kittredge andrew his list with
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"the task was a formidable one." what would be delegates most important task -- thank you for asking. arguably to remain neutral. sorry. it was to remain absolutely neutral. hoover new that neutrality was the linchpin this operation -- to this operation. he would like all the crv delegates to be neutral to thought and act are realistic about these young men and where their hearts might lead their brains here according to journalists -- a journalist then allen when hoover met the first 10 oxford students in december, before they left for belgium, he told them you must forget that the greatest war in history is being waged, you have no interest in it other than the
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feeding of the belgian people and you must score yourself to the realization you have, to us, and your country a sacred obligation of absolute neutrality in every word and deed. where did the first crb man stanwyck into neutrality? most were pro-allied, but there were some exceptions. david allen was pro-german when he entered belgian. he had -- e.e. hunt had a different perspective here at he wrote -- after the fall of antwerp, but before he became involved in the crv, he wrote, i am the only real flesh and blood neutral left in europe, everyone here is anti-german or insanely pro-, you can take your choice but the campaign of lies is international and i am ashamed to say some of our newspaper correspondent have helped the bad work along.
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such neutrality did not include him from feeling the effects of the war and the impact of the war, writing to two other agents in new york city -- i could write you endless human interest things if i had the strength the war is bedlam and takes life from all of us. i have so much to say and little mental emotion behind it that sometimes it looks very dark. it would not take long for hunt to shift his thinking with regard to the germans. while constantly maintaining his neutrality, awkward stance of neutrality. his excellent world war i book reflects his ultimate belief and the allies and the rightness of their stand against the germans. in late 1914, as the men come together and found their way into belgium and begin to interact with the belgians working on relief the chaos and confusion of the situation was nearly as great behind the lines as in the battlefields.
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there was a new world of warfare and it was becoming new world of humanitarian aid. no one knew how best to approach either one. at the helm of the american side of relief was herbert hoover not only a great humanitarian but a great organizer. on the belgium side there was the whole distribution chain that was set to be organized in the country. there were the boots on the ground americans, little-known men and women who heeded the call to save a nation from starvation. they are as much of a story as the crb as hoovered hoover -- as herbert hoover. let me leave you with a quick last story, there were approximately 185 men involved who went into belgium and one woman. i say approximately because there are membership lists, but
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no definitive list that is accurate, every list has an inaccuracy. regardless of the exact number of delegates, one of the minute -- one of them i knew intimately and i would be remiss if i did not mention them. my grandfather, milton brown, or in cincinnati, graduated princeton. entered belgium as a delegate on january in 1916, put in charge of the clothing department for all of the countries while in the city of belgium. he happily fell in love with -- fell in love and last on the last delegate train and 1917. he married in 1919. when my grandparents died, i inherited all of their diaries journals, correspondence, and photos and spent two years in
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the 1980's researching and writing a historical novel about this time called "honorbound" which did not get in print. i want to leave you with a thought of -- even though i have written this book and it covers a lot of the crb and belgians, what it focuses on is what of i put -- what i put in my authors note, the crb is a fine american achievement and deserve to be told, for a long time these men and women have been lying quietly, solid through the years because you have asked them to speak. i hope you feel they are now standing proudly and telling their stories. thank you very much. [applause] >> we will take a couple of minutes so we can switch out the film real.
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i will ask you to come farther forward to make this more intimate. thank you. you will give me a sign when you are done right? >> ok, tom?
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[applause] tom: i think everyone for coming . thank you for organizing the seminar. and the relationship to world war i. it is an honor to be here at the presidential library where i first started doing my research for my dysentery -- dissertation and 2005. it is great to come back here. the title of my talk, which is the most effective human angel i have ever known. it is not from me, it comes from
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what herbert hoover said about one of his friends and colleagues, maurice tate who brandon introduced us to earlier on. at a dinner in 1956, hoover called him the most efficient and dedicated human angel i have ever known. great praise from someone who spent a great deal of his life working in humanitarian relief and is often called the great humanitarian. i figured it would be a proper statement for the symposium, dedicated to examining the various personalities who were part of this humanitarian awakening during world war i. a moment that launched the careers of hoover men. public careers of men like hoover. hoover is the better known story. the stories of men like hates -- there are a number of new
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scholars who are writing about these including jen polk, mike mcguire. we uncovered the lives and activities of those involved with american led humanitarian work during world war i. i first came to know morris paid at the hoover library. the bulk of his material is princeton university, the hoover presidential library has copies of his paper, in particular his diary, a fantastic exploration of what life was like as a member of the crb. his diaries and correspondence of many other members provide important insight into the lived experiences of the men who worked for the crb and would continue their humanitarian work in poland and finland after world war i and world war ii. i will talk about a few of the
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individuals, mainly more space -- morris. and their experiences in belgium. i want to talk about them in two distinct but related ways -- first as spectators of the war. also as witnesses of what was going on, especially what the germans were doing, this crisis of deportation that occurred in late 1916 and early 1917. the american -- an article i published has an article -- i hope to show that while these young men were obviously dedicated humanitarians. they have a complex relationship with their work as a neutral american in a war zone and as international humanitarians confronting new and unsettling
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situations at the hands of the occupying germans. in real ways, their activities in belgium not only awakened their own humanitarian spirit, but propelled them and the united states in the idea of the united states onto the world stage in the early 20th century as a national agent of humanitarian activity. pate and his fellow delegates lived in a theater of war, belgium was a theater of war. anna terrien to being humanitarian -- in addition to being humanitarians, they were spectators to one of the greatest calamities in human history, date spirits the war -- they experienced the war by seeing the conflict and reflected on their experiences on people they encountered on the way. falling in love with belgian women and marrying them. one different way to engage with the belgium and the belgian people.
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these men it from highly educated backgrounds, princeton, gail, harvard, stanford -- a huge west coast contingent because of hoover's associated with stanford university, where he got his undergraduate mining degree. there are specific types of peoples at francis wick, anglo-saxon of the western world. they saw themselves as these exceptional men of the united states and the anglo-saxon nature of the world. they came to belgium to witness the spectacle of war in addition to conducting their aid initiatives. the humanitarian identity to comprehend the war and their place in it. this new identity shaped by their american induced neutrality and the space they inhabit it in belgium, neither combatants or victims, neither occupied or occupiers. their official role as neutral arbiters was complement it and
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complicated by their informal role as travelers and tourists a -- in a strange land. for the first time in nearly a generation americans like that were experiencing war firsthand complete with the sights and sounds. as neutral as they tried to stand apart from the politics of the war, but work part of the day-to-day life of civilians working in a distressed land. he was 22 when he joined, he applied to work for the commission out of princeton university using his experience in the american red cross. he said, i can do this kind of work. he had a letter of reference from the princeton president. even though his french was not up to the mark at all, he was allowed into the crb organization. there is always an exception for a good angle saxon of the western world. he juxtaposes the day-to-day
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work of a humanitarian administrator. he is meetings with officials, germans, finding ways to make sure everyone has enough food, sometimes resorting to make them eat the black bread, it did not taste good, not nutritionally great, but had to be read to everyone, upper and lower class. it says a great deal about class relationships in belgium. how they collapse. pate took the job very seriously and worked hard in these difficult circumstances. he and the other delegates were not immune to the vibrant world around them. else it and is a beautiful country, unlike what they had in the united states in many ways. in october of 1916, hoover wrote, of a beautiful airplane raid during the morning, the sky was perfectly blue, except for a few very high light files.
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several bombs were dropped. these were answered by a steady fire on german guns. the greater part of the time the planes were hitting white clouds. reappearing now and then as clear spaces and giving a picturesque effect. his language in his diary evoked a show as much as a dangerous and violent air raid. pate's war and by -- involve more of just lists, it spoke of a spectacle of modern technology and sensory experience like none yet experienced before. these men who worked for hoover were present at the creation of a modern world of humanitarian practices. they were seeing firsthand the new way of war and filtering in these ideas from the prism of their self constructed american identity as neutrals in this new humanitarian endeavor. especially when they would
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observe the germans up close in terms of what they were doing. from pate's diary -- to see the german army drill or make arms at rest is a marvel, a perfect machine, lacking only individuality. he had a front row seat to the spectacle of the german army itself. it was perfect, he said. except for its lack of individuality. a key american trait. this spectacle that he had was a prelude for deeper engagement by americans during the application that was raised -- that would raise more questions is a role as humanitarians and the proper role of what a humanitarian should do in a theater of war how far could they go? how far could there neutrality
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be challenge before it broke? and be removed from the situation. the rivers mission -- who were hers mission was about neutrality. not involve themselves in the affairs of the german occupation. pate and others recorded instances when they played some role of aiding the belgians for potential abuse. they often use their status as members of the crb at americans as honest brokers. what wilson was hoping to do by keeping the united states neutral. what happens then when that neutrality is put to the test by what today we would call gross human rights violations.
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we know men acted as witnesses during their time in the belgian occupation. i want to turn briefly to a moment in late 1916, early 1917, when hoover's human angels of humanitarian is were confronted with mass deportation of belgian man as potential labor to germany. these deportations, orchestrated program by the germans in october of 1916, violated decades old international law that forbade the compulsory -- compulsion of the occupied territory to take part in military operations against its own country. this action by the german government eventually move 60,000 belgium men forcibly from belgium to germany, which outraged international observers might be crb and the united
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states, including the wilson administration. hoover's humanitarian angels or witnesses to this and recorded what they saw for posterity. after the war, another delegate wrote that the news of these deportations "came like a storm approaching from the west. the grief and sorrow and fear spread over the land. they were coordinated projects by the german army. they were desperate for workers in germany to replace the men who were called to be front. historians have seen these deportations as precursors to world war ii era deportations of belgians, but also in some ways to the way a holocaust plays out in terms of removing people by train from one place to another. it also expressed the dilemma he
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and the rest of the crb member space, it was hard, he wrote not to be able to help the people who looked to the americans with trust, rarely one finds in dumb beasts. we have to remember we were in belgium for the relief effort alone, and had he no interest in the deportations unless they affected our own men. while in one way he is patronizing toward the belgians, and calling them dumb beasts, and there was his element that they are children we are taking care of. the idea of american exceptionalism, you know belgium was a highly industrialized country, had a large imperial presence in africa, the belgian congo, the key railroad center. taking it back to a medieval state and seeing it as no longer modern.
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he recognized there was a compelling interest to intervene in some way, but also there was no way of doing so without putting the broader humanitarian work at risk. this is a key question over humanitarian is him versus human rights philosophies. he expressed the tension between humanitarianism, helping the immediate problem without thinking about long-term political issues, and restorative, or preventative human rights, a more directly political. the crb were acting agents as humanitarianism's, not human rights. they could ask and he did ask as witnesses of these violations. the americans were awakened to the red of the of the suffering of world war i and humanitarianism during the time. when americans were neutral. though the americans sense of
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neutrality had been challenged during their time in building -- belgium, the german laborers, which led to increased tensions and america coming into the war. was a painful challenge to their identity as humanitarians. they could step in and protect the deportation policy of the germans and jeopardize broader efforts by being asked to leave because they were doing bad work. in the eyes of the germans. or, they can advocate only for those belgians who worked in some capacity for the crb. about 50,000 work in some capacity for the crb the ones who did the distribution of the food. the americans observed to make sure there was nothing bad, and according, no selling on the black market. they were working for the relief effort even if they were
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unemployed and working for the belgian economy. that would be more traditional before the war. at the time the crb chose to play limited role and observe the actions of the germans. a great examiner -- a great example of the challenging work. and -- hoover and his colleagues were observed -- disturbed by the german policy. this was a political problem not up to the crb to solve. hoover did write the u.s. minister in belgium in november of 1917, informing him of the situation and they reported this back to the state department at it got back to woodrow wilson, so there is a conduit of news from the theory of verifiable trust in belgium not just rumors and papers and other agendas, but neutral agencies informing what is going on on the ground in belgium. whitlock agreed with herbert hoover that they were making too
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much of an official protest might harm the relief efforts. the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few. after world war i and world war ii, francis wicks, and an interview, that he was present for the purpose of protesting against some of these transactions, the young men were brought in by the soldiers and put into confined areas, then loaded like cattle in freight cars and carried off to germany for forced labor. the americans protest were primarily for any man who had employment for the crb. early on, as a policy was getting underway, pate reported that the crb office was albany headquarters of the protectorate of the united states and spain. the arbiter of the enforcement of international laws at the hague and general to work for all evils.
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his reference to spain is the spanish and the dutch were neutral at the time, and they had honorary chairmanship on the crb board, later asking if the americans would leave when they became involved militarily, the spanish and the dutch would take over, running the day-to-day operations even know hoover had a heavy hand in what the crb was doing. they see themselves as a protector of -- pate then reported that he was asked directly about 30 men who had refused to work in the aviation and were conducted as prisoners on their way to germany. he continued that a new poster place today announced there were serious penalties unless necessary workmen are forced to come. the germans were forcing ultimatums, you need to give us 500 laborers are we will charge you 5000 francs restitution to
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us. it was a ransom. even though the transport and distribution of food was well-founded, well-respected and won, they were trying to deal with -- the biggest question was the wholesale requisition of civilians for fourth military work as opposed to requisition of potential food during this time, even though they could not do a lot. how much the americans would do is a question. personal intervention was a tactic and a used it frequently to make sure people who should not have been deported were not deported. crb identified -- identification cards were given to some belgians. someone do it retroactively, if they are being taken and others
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-- were like, we do not have to do this, they trust us. a lot of american delegates do something different in provinces . these id cards became important. the americans -- the germans respected these cards. as time went on, the respect was uneven and went by the wayside. then the americans worked on a more on the ground element to try and get the belgians not deported. pate recorded some successes in stopping the deportations and many were forced to go, -- the belgian said the americans were not doing enough. his own records, in january of 1917, he said, the belgians detest the americans as much as anybody, because the united states did not go to war over the deportations.
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this is an organization that was on board with the belgians but now this new thing is filling in that vacuum, and the americans are not doing enough. until the war came, the american crb's would help to do their best to protect the belgians. the americans in belgium drew on the powers. at antwerp, a man reported back to his superiors that the crb have been respected and have been no cases of employees had been taken to germany. in those later cases, when the cards were not respected, the delegates made individual interventions. richardson had to speak with the germans personally to allow 33 belgians whose card indicated they are crb members.
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the germans saw this too smooth too convenient, so the cards were not going to be respected. richardson took this critique to hard and got those 33 to come back and said, we are not -- we should not abuse these cards. so we do not ignore it altogether, making hard decisions about who goes and who stays. the delegates from their diaries and letters and reports they sent back, reportedly -- the germans were often under pressure. the americans were an important sense of information hoover reported to the secretary of
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state about the german actions and found the policy reported -- reprehensible, but once noted that the open action for us as such would jeopardize other protections which we can get the belgian people believe. the deportations game ended in february of 1917, just a tension between united states and germany over the resumption of unrestricted warfare are coming to an end -- a head. with american entry into war in april of 1917, the american direct leadership of the crb what in any spanish and dutch would take over. some joined the army. men like pate would spend the rest of their life serving humanitarian capacities. they would assess the capabilities during world war ii.
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pate became the first director of unicef, holding a position until his death in 1965. these men were products of their age, young and inquisitive about the world and they saw firsthand the total war could take on civilians and work diligently been an later to bring some semblance of relief and protection to those they felt had the best chance of protecting. they may hard decisions and kept their eyes open to not only the spectacle around them, but to the abuses they's felt powerless to confront. by the time the americans left the crb service they went from being good people to season humanitarians, ready for action. whether u.s. or world circumstances. their work established united states and citizens in human -- leaders as humanitarian power. it is a history of american action in the world that gary clifford tried to use a hoover alternative on the world stage during the 20 century.
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thank you, very much. [applause] >> should be good. and i am on. good. thank you to matt for organizing this, i have been coming for 10 years off and on and i should get best that i am a european historian. i say that uneasily -- i am the imposter. i got interested in the crb when i was doing a book on belgian women who worked for british intelligence. as spies.
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there were these interesting belgian intelligence networks that were operating along with underground newspapers and some of the stuff jeff talks about. i picked up hugh gibson's book, because i wanted to see what he had to say about some of the women i was looking at. and i ran across the story of the crb while i was reading his book. i filed it away and decided i would check that out. 10 years later i'm still collecting material on this and working on it. in the autumn of 1915, a small crime wave begin in belgium. a continued until the end of the war, german occupying authorities arrested several dozen people and sentence them to short prison sentence, 328 days typically for the crime of
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potential smuggling. men, women, young and old, rich and poor, the belgian population in that city conceived of a number of plans for obtaining and transporting potatoes in order to feed their families. they smuggle other things like butter, but potatoes were the most common things to be smuggled. a typical condemnation for this kind of behavior, and these are some of the posters that said you are absolutely forbidden not to carry potatoes in other parts of the belgian territory, but showed up during the war. a typical combination reads as thus -- a woman of 30 years old was sentenced to two days in prison for not authorized transported potatoes destine for her family uses. in such a world, where protesting -- possessing a small quantity of potatoes -- a very small amount -- like a bag of
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potatoes and sheehan up in prison for two days. in this kind of a world where you have a forbidden item and it could land you in prison food dominated daily life. what -- whether belgians are resisting occupying authorities or scrounging for food for their families are spending hours working for the food efforts life revolved around food and it shows up in diaries -- every entry practically mentions food. in my short time with you i would like to illustrate the role that ordinary belgians played in the work that hoover and his men supervised. the thousands of people who made the food distribution possible are not all that visible in this historic record. i would like you to think about the details of what it would take to feed millions of people on a daily basis. to do so, i thought i would use the town -- a town, a medium-sized town that became a
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symbol of the war when much of the town was burned by the germans in 1914. as background, let me just talk a little bit about the burning. on the evening of the 25th of august am in 1914, the city which had a population of 40,000 witnessed serious destruction at the hands of the german invasion force. rumors of medical civilian snipers, there were fears among german soldiers that the belgians would be shooting at them from the windows as they marched into town. german soldiers panicked and ravaged the town. by the 28th of august, during the invasion, more than 200 civilians were dead, nearly 1100 things had been forced, and the university library which was cultural icon in belgium, was a hollow burned out shell. you can see this is the main hall of the library. in the case of the latter, they
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describe how german soldiers set fire to the library, fueling anger over simplest instruction. this was a part of the propaganda that was directed to the british and to the neutral americans at the time. the cities entire collection was lost, with only a few remnants of scar soldiers remaining. it became central to the allied narrative about german war atrocities, the ideas that germans were not -- did not believe in civilization. you can see examples here. these are of the city. belgium itself again a helpless female victim. in much of this propaganda, like a damsel in distress. there was one earlier with the german soldier dragging a young girl off and it is often how belgium is shown. under these -- underneath this
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red -- this rhetoric, the people living there had a more serious problem, shelter food, they had no gas, no electricity. they had 1100 buildings destroyed. there were homeless families seeking assistance, there was very little food moving, because it was an active war area. a lack of water, you can imagine what this is like in september. many of the fields around the town had been destroyed during the invasion. the things they might have used to help bring in food to the town, were not available. long before americans brought food to the region, belgium local committees organized trying to get their resources together. as early as the first week in september of 1914, belgian bankers and business people met in brussels to create a central committee, this was under the leadership of a meal 40 -- emile
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franke, under this broad umbrella. belgians across the country put together regional and local committees, a very complicated hierarchy of organizations in belgium. altogether about 10 million belgian and french civilians received aid in the form of food and clothing and other services. while i do not want to downplay hoover's role in running this organization or the part of the delegates which we have heard a lot about, i do want to say that there is no way the crb could have done with -- done this without the 60,000 belgians who actually did the work of handing out the food to children or sorting clothing. i do not know if you have ever bought from goodwill, but imagine sorting donated clothing and trying to find things that are useful. there is a lot of work involved in the nitty-gritty details of
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this organization. also, i should mention that because of the restrictions on travel in belgium, it was difficult to move around the country. there was multiple languages at work even today belgium has three official languages. there were a lot of dialects at the time. it became important to work with local committees, because they needed to know the local environment and people could not -- belgian people could not just moved from one end of the country to the other. the americans could do that they had special permits, but the belgians could not, so they worked locally. louvian functioned as a center for a provincial committee and a headquarters for the region was located -- kind of funny -- at the american college at louvian which had been formed 100 -- hundreds of years before, but one of the buildings they were able to use.
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to get a sense of the scope of the work, the region has 339 local committees and a total population of more than 700,000 people. this is one region and here is a map. this is the -- this is a province, brussels had its own organization, a little island in the middle of the map. the work was overseen by a local landowner and a university professor, the two of them function to run the committee. altogether, in this province about 10,000 people worked for the province. that includes some of hate personnel, but mostly volunteers. -- paid personnel, but mostly volunteers. local authorities were in effect creating a whole new economy. i think we got a sense of that from the earlier presentations but nothing was normal. it was a matter of trying to
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start from scratch and figure out how to make things work as normally as possible. one of the things that they had to figure out was what to do about money. you see very early in the war, the creation of this temporary strip. this is a good example from louvian.' let me use my pointer. this is handwritten, almost like an iou that was produced in september of 1914, pretty romantic -- rudimentary in the beginning. as time advanced they got better. eventually, printers in belgium started making these and a book much more like banknotes. -- and they looked more like banknotes. they also had to figure out who
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needed food and who had food. in the fall of 1914, there was a mess and since -- mass census. they asked people how much food do you have. not everyone reported how much they had. they were trying to find out if it was being courted. they did a cent -- h oarded. the senses -- census was important and used to find out how much food they would be from outside the country. then they gave russian cards to the heads of households -- ration cards in the heads of household. they could choose either flour or bread. if they wanted to bake their own red, they could. -- bread, they could. the head of household received a second card which provided a
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fixed amount they could purchase at local shops. goods at the shops -- lard or other kinds of fat beans cocoa, so when it was available -- soap what was available. it was open six days a week, 14 hours a day, a big operation. like running a large grocery store. this work, which was setting up the shops and giving ration cards to the population affected just about everyone in belgium. we heard about the schoolchildren feeding and some of the work to help the needy. but there was also the basic -- let's make sure everybody has access to food and there is some equity. the other thing the belgian committees had to take into
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account, all of the other social welfare tasks that come about when war happens. a lot of people who are targeted or who are destitute. i want to give you a couple examples -- some of them are creative and surprising what they were able to do in wartime. the museum has examples of some of these. so you can see them. one of the problems is that certain populations had certain problems. schoolchildren or special groups . there was a lot of interest in that in making sure children had food. another group infants and toddlers, they were not at school, so how do you get food to that group? prior to the war in belgium many toddlers, especially, were
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fed with either homemade or imported baby food. the beginning of the baby food industry and there is a new book that came out on the history of baby food that is fascinating -- i recommend it. supplies of this foreign product were cut off during the war. they made loans to people to start these different war industries come a factory in brussels was retooled to produce american lillian baby;s food. i have no idea who american lillian was. about a million kilos of baby food was consumed in this product alone. -- province alone. they were worried about nursing mothers, so they created a product which was supposed to build up the mother so they could nurse infants. there is another product called belgian curing food, for sick
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infants. and for schoolchildren a biscuit company which still exist today they created a special scholar school biscuit for students. they are cookies for children. i have not tried the hoover cookies in the shop, but i am imagining their -- they are something like this. they even created, which tells you that belgium was not as bad off as some countries like poland during the war. they were able to keep pets, which by the end of the work was less common. another manufacturing product that was developed to deal with shortages was was universally hated, this is a substitute for coffee. jeff mentioned the coffee shipment that they were able to
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get at the beginning of the war but it did not last very long. copy was a staple in the belgian diet. -- coffee was a staple in the belgian diet. they thought they could make kind of a coffee with roasted grain. it was a coffee substance -- substitute and one of the main factories for producing this was in louvian added employed 40 people, who then were able to get employment cards when deportations came, so you can see the links between our presentation. as the official history notes until the end of 1916, the demand was quite moderate. the shops still had a little coffee, but public expressed a defiance or a version to this ground powder the color of dirt.
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i found this hilarious slide, a brass teapot talking to a coffee mill. the subject is the fact that the germans are requisitioning all of the medals from households something that happened in belgium during the war. they took doorknobs and kitchen items and all kinds of stuff, and the teapot is saying, -- aren't you worried about the requisitioning, you will lose your top and a coffee mill says, are you kidding it is better than this they copy they keep pouring -- fake coffee they keep pouring through me. ultimately, people overcame their aversion because they wanted a hot drink. in world war i, the third winter of the war was particularly
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harsh, fuel was short and having a hot drink was important. this is producing great quantities in 1918, in that year alone, louvian produced on was half a million kilos for consumption. the problem the committee based was not just with the coffee, but people did not like the things they were being given. the museum points this out in his new exhibit, a famous belgian aversion to cornmeal and can corn when it is presented many people say this is animal food. they have to try and educate people -- you can really eat cornmeal, it is not just for animals. these were key goods -- think about what the united states grows and what they're willing to send, lots of cans of corn.
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many times they have to stop them from feeding it to the animals. the other problem is -- regardless if they start to death. -- starve to death. they are sensitive to glass. they have to create other ways -- middle-class poor. discreet assistance. assistance to people who are wealthy -- who have been wealthy who are now suddenly destitute. who are too proud to go to a soup kitchen. they did this in the form of aid, volunteers who visit homes personally and take food, sometimes they hire this class of people to work at the soup kitchens and then they get a free meal because they are working, but because they are dispensing eight it helps with that issue of pride -- dispensing aid it helps with the
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issue of pride. there are clinics, the list of different kinds of social welfare programs numbers about 36 or 37 in one town. quite a operation. shops made wooden toys, papier-mâché puppets, subsidized meals in restaurants. a whole variety of things, and here are some examples. this is the shop where you could buy things, one of the subsidized restaurants where you could go out and have a real restaurant meal, but at a cheaper rate. to kind of provide normalcy. the other thing that becomes a real problem for the belgians and several others have alluded to this, is the refugee problem. refugees start pouring into the building provinces from the war
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area, especially among the belgian-french border, so accounts that have figured out how to feed people, now had tens of thousands of refugees flooding in. the deported workers start coming back, they do not have anything, under nourished, some of them on foot, return prisoners of war start showing up. by the end of the war, there is a lot of strain on the system. i have only mentioned a fraction of the activities, but i hope it gives you a window into the day-to-day activities of the work the crb delegates were supervising under hoover's leadership. i think that for the delegates who went on to work for the ara belgium became the model, they thought that is what they could expect when they went into other countries. the belgian social networks were well developed they put
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together these committees, worked well together and did not find this necessarily in some of the other countries they went to . they try to put the belgian model in place, and a lot of times they talk about this more -- in poland, if we could just have belgian committees, it would be great. the last thing i want to mention to conclude is that there was an important -- while the belgians are doing all of this work and are generally working well with the american delegates and the delegates have a lot of respect for the belgians there are tensions about who controls the purse strings and about this kind of patronizing attitude that tom mentioned. the delegates talk about the belgians as their children, even adults, they talk about as their children. there is this giver and receiver relationship that is uneasy.
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tracy kittredge and his official history notes that each delegate at that time was in a way the lord of his own province. there is this sense that the americans are standing above it all. the americans are being given rich food, treated like royalty getting thank you guess, you can see those best gifts that you can see any reason. -- thank you gifts that you can see in the museum. this sense of sight priority -- sense of security. often, the delegates -- at one point hoover does not get along with and you can read about this
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in the biographies. he is taken to task by a british diplomatic intervention. a lord writes to hoover and tries to explain this. "at the same time you have got to base -- and have no hesitation to appeal to, the fact that your position, which has been anomalous from the beginning must become more and more anomalous as time goes by. you came into rescue the belgian people -- which we consider absurd and put up with that seeming ingratitude. i ask you, with all copies to make greater sacrifices than ever in order that you may not be drawn into the greatest sacrifice of all, namely the sacrifice of your position as the advanced guard and the symbol of the responsibility of the american people toward europe. "
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he tries to tell hoover that you are damaging americans reputation if you do not give a little to the belgians elite in particular. it is true that by the middle of the war, the belgians have a smooth running organization when america joins the war in 1917, the american delegates have to leave and the belgians take over a lot of the work. they have spanish also supervising. it is a much less hands-on role than what the americans had. the belgians can function without all of the supervision. to conclude, i hope i have demonstrated the partnership was vital -- to the food aid program. the outpouring of gratitude from belgians during and after the war -- gifts and awards was genuine and hoover became a
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beloved figure in postwar belgium. this is the louvian that was rebuilt with american money, a bust to hoover. this is another hoover sign. there are a lot of hoover street signs in europe, no memorials to the countless belgian volunteers or americans who did the grunt work, but in the centennial year it is important to remember the work that they did. thank you. [applause] >> you are watching "american history tv" on c-span3. to do when the conversation, like us on facebook at c-span/history. coming up next, paul ryan and ranking member sander martin levin are joined by political commentator cokie roberts to celebrate the history of co


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