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tv   Herbert Hoover the Humanitarian  CSPAN  December 11, 2016 8:00pm-9:21pm EST

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appearances by many of the supreme court justices are watched justices in their own words including one-on-one interviews in the past few months but justices kagan, thomas and ginsburg. there is also a calendar for this time. a list of all current justices with links to currently see all of their appearances on c-span as well as many other supreme court videos available on demand. follow the supreme court at >> next, on the presidency, historian george nash talks about herbert hoover. he was known as the great humanitarian for his work on international relief effort. the world war i museum and memorial posted this one hour and 10 minutes event. ladies andning gentlemen. i am the ceo of the world war i
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museum and memorial. we are delighted to welcome you. since one of the many public programs that we have and we are so pleased that you have taken summer day this warm and evening to engage in what is going to be i think a forthright and a deeply engaging conversation. we are grateful to c-span for broadcasting this evening. and for their support in taking what is a critical topic as part of the commemorative activities of world war i and to public. that theto me experience of the american response to world war i represents something of the very the american experiment. who could not argue that the core values of america were
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expressed by the belgian relief efforts during world war i? they said they had been organized by hoover for the commission of release of belgium. grassroots to response of national crisis in belgium and france. starvation due to the ravages of war. it seems to me that it is expressive of so many of the core values that seem to claim us as we think about this american experiment. through the efforts of hoover and the commission, of the 9 million people, each day were fed in belgium and north france. discussrtunity to contemporary parallels as it relates to need certainly are
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tempting. the impact of herbert hoover has been felt throughout the globe. i was delighted that dr. nash relayed the history of hoover to me earlier and spending time in australia. so there you go. maybe his roots are not just about american values. tonight, we are especially grateful and welcoming some of the foremost experts. herbertiven thought to -- the workork of of herbert hoover. his degree received at harvard in 1975. -- he is published
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widely. there is a biography under the oferal title" the life herbert hoover" betrayed herbert hoover 's secret history. , his loste years memoir of a new deal era and its aftermath. from 87 to 95, presidential appointment, he served on it national commission of libraries. esteemed in many organizations and colleges throughout the world. he has received the richard weaver prize of scholarly and is written also in publications such as the neo-book review, the national review, the wall street journal and many others.
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lectured at the library of congress, the national archives, ever presidential libraries and on c-span. he in 2007 and 2006 delivered the herbert hoover related lectures in brussels. he was featured in the andmentary he films landslide the great famine. that was televised nationally on pbs in 2009 and 2011 respectively. were is no doubting that have someone in our midst who has a deep understanding and i and partnership with the national archives of kansas city lucky new to this presentation titled uber hoover -- herbert hoover: the great humanitarian. please welcome to the stage dr. george nash.
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[applause] dr. nash: thank you for that very gracious introduction. and indeed anre honor to be deep guest this evening of the national world war i museum and the moral introduction with the national archives. , holly ides,nk you and haley sheriff for all of the courtesies you have extended to make here in kansas city. it is a pleasure to be in this room at this time. summer of 2014, the nations of europe north america, australia and new zealand and mark the centenary of the first world war.
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hascommemoration so far largely been a suburb one. haunted by memories of soldiers subsisting and money treasures -- muddy trenches. sites for the dumb and the sum. they have been scenes of poignant ceremonies and prayer. there was another dimension of the great war as it was then called that should not be overlooked. for out of it, something positive and transformative came. is at its center, a man who was the subject of my remarks this evening. on august 10, 1914, herbert hoover turned 40 years old. a highly since excel -- successful mining engineer. yet been planning for several
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years to return home to california. where he hoped to enter what he called the big game of public service. this orphaned son of quaker pioneers had come far from his humble again is in a tiny beginning in the state of iowa. rising rapidly in his chosen profession of money engineering after graduating from stanford inversity, he controlled part or directed a worldwide array of money enterprises that employ hundreds of men. having achieved his early ambition of earning a fortune by friend of 40, he told a that just making money is not enough. he wanted to do something more. arose andunity
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circumstances he could not have imagined. just a few days before his 40th birthday, most of europe plunged into the greatest armed conflict and 100 years. britaint 4, as great declared war on imperial germany, he wrote to a friend if my judgment of the situation is right, we are on the verge of seven years of considerable vibration. >> the american engineer was more prophetic than he knew. private should did indeed in much of the world. the struggle against it became the arching theme of his life during that. not personal private should of course. he remained financially independent. nor was the larger struggle one
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that you have been obligated to confront. he could have avoided it if you wanted to. and, by virtue of his strategic place and international money ventures, that have profited immensely from a warring world's misfortune. instead, by a combination of and sheerre to serve love of accomplishment, over concentrated himself to a mission. between 1914 and 1921, coping with revolution and hunger. he absorbed his superabundant energies. in the chaotic early weeks of the fighting, hoover and other leading americans resident in london organized emergency relief assistance for more than 100,000 american travelers, playing the continent of europe for london and safe passage home.
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over's of efficient leadership of this effort impressed the american ambassador to great britain. he, along with others soon tapped hoover for a far greater visit -- mission. in the summer of 1914, and in dating german army overran the small, neutral nation of belgium. dependent upon imported food -- imported food for most of its consumption. it was trapped between a occupier and the british naval blockade of the enemy. the belgium-based starvation unless sustenance to somehow be obtained on the outside world. with the approval of ambassador page, and the acquiescence of the warring british and german
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governments, over established on october 20, 1914, a neutral, benevolent entity called the in elgin. for relief he transported into belgium, who for the belgium populace which was beleaguered. one anticipated that this humanitarian mission would last more than a few months. the kaiser of germany famously predicted that the war would be over by christmas. instead, it generated into a gruesome stalemate on the western front. relief forgency into an elaborate enterprise without precedent in history. an organized rescue of an entire nation of starvation.
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within a few months, over and his team of mostly american built the crv into a remarkable organization. it was called a piratical state organized for benevolence. its own flag, its own fleet. it negotiated treaties with the war european powers. its leader, hoover enjoyed formal diplomatic immunity and traveled freely through enemy lines. the only american citizen permitted to do so or the entire war. the tasks for relief in belgium were daunting. first, it had to raise money throughout the world. initially through charitable
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appeals. but as the war went on, subsidies from the french, british and u.s. governments came along. with this money it had to purchase wheat from north america, south america and australia. that it had to shift to these foodstuffs to belgium. -- when it shifted to the european war zone, they were required to navigate carefully lest abc's by the british navy or subjected to german submarine attack. when the food reached the neutral support of rotterdam, their cargo had to be unloaded for conveyance by canal into isolated belgium. once inside the occupied country, the supplies had to be prepared for human consumption. in mills, dairies, bakeries. then the food had to be
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to aibuted equitably desperate population of more and 7 million women children. scattered over 2500 villages, cities and towns. it possible to faceted work, it needed to verify that the daily food allotment reached their intended recipients. not the german army of occupation. they had pledged not to steal or interfere. working with herbert hoover and his staff were 10,000 elgin -- belgian volunteers. they were known as the national committee of care and feeding.
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it has some of the country's leaders.inent business they were under german occupation. they did not have the freedom to exercise surveillance and control the flow as the neutral americans did. one object of special solicitude was young people. belgiansr task and the to maintain the laughter of the children, not to dry away their tears. the challenge was impressively met by early 1917. three quarters of belgium children were receiving daily specifically for that purpose. enough,l this were not in early 1915, over's organization was permitted to extend it's life-sustaining operations to more than 2
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million french civilians living behind the german lines on the western front. and the cessation of its work in the summer of 1919, the crv delivered nearly 5 million metric tons of supplies to more than 9 million civilians inside of belgium and german occupied northern france. expanded moret than 12 billion today. exertions,these hoover, working voluntarily and without pay became an international hero. in embodiment of a new force global politics. in 1916, the british foreign
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office described him as the advanced guard and symbol of the sense of responsibility for the american people toward europe. year, brown university and the united states awarded -- his first honorary degree. for hoover, the belgian relief effort turned out to be his first great act in an extraordinary career on the public stage. when the united states entered the war, in april of 1917, he left day-to-day supervision of the crv to subordinates and returned to america. in short order, he was appointed head of the u.s. food administration. agencyal, wartime
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created at the request of woodrow wilson to stimulate a -- american food production. food will win the war became his slogan. 1918, the united states under its food controller guidance and become a cornucopia upon which the beleaguered british, french and italians could draw with increasing confidence. just five days after the armistice in 1918, resident wilson -- president wilson dispatched him to a continent careening toward disaster. now, little belgium was not the only nation at risk. following the end
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of world war i, mn, disease and bloody revolution swept across such of europe. it threw us under a civilization already traumatized by the war to end all wars. leaders and allied struggle to draft a peace treaty in paris, hoover as director of the general belief and chairman of the relief administration organized the first version food to hungry people and helped to communistdanger of revolutions in central europe. the task that hoover and his associates performed, many of them loaned to him from the u.s. army of occupation was most simple in the process of handing the food to the needy. many of the needy nations he had served and only rudimentary
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government machinery. some were brand-new countries like yugoslavia and czechoslovakia. the transportation systems have broken down. every frontier was a barrier of suspicion. ethnic tensions and separatist impulses abounded. the american led relief programs also entailed much more than keeping a step ahead of famine. increasedecovery and productivity were crucial if europe was to find up its wounds. many of hoover's policies and 1919 designed to achieve this objective. he arranged for hundreds of american engineers and other experts to become technical advisors to the fledgling governments. andustria, poland czechoslovakia and yugoslavia.
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they worked to reorganize railways, create efficient transportation networks, reform currencies and modernize agriculture. hoover also helped to reopen the .ital river basin to commerce he dispatched american agents to silesia and other mining regions. they helped to settle strikes and increase urgently needed production of coal. with the signing of the treaty of versailles in the summer of 1919, hoover's relief and reconstruction efforts entered a new phase. the american relief administration was reconstituted as a nongovernmental organization. with hoover himself at the helm. it became part of a growing empire of philanthropy that he and his associates developed to cope with the great war's aftermath at home and abroad.
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children'suropean aunt for example concentrated on providing daily meals to an estimated 3 million children in eastern and central europe in the early 1920's. undoubtedly, the most extraordinary postwar undertaking occurred in soviet russia. more than two years after the great war officially ended. 1923 inom 1921 to response to a plea from russian communist dictatorship for outside assistance, the ara organized an american relief program to combat a devastating famine in the boulder river .egion the worst famine in middle europe in the middle ages. russians died before
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the supplies can reach them but million moores -- millions more survived. at the peak, the organization fed upwards of 10 million people a day. allpossibly 20 million in during its two years of operation. andin all, between 1914 1923, hoover directed, financed assisted a multitude of international humanitarian relief efforts without parallel in history. during this nearly tenure. , the crv, the u.s. food administration, the ara and other various governments and private organizations deliver nearly 34 million metric tons of food. that was to the lands and people imperiled by world war i and its aftermath. the monetary value of this
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sustenance valued in today's currency exceeded 60 ilion dollars. for most of this undertaking, the man with this responsibility was hoover. no one knows exactly how many people owed their lives to his exertions. this, between 1914 and 1923, literally tens of women andf men, children in more than 20 nations received food allotment for which hoover and his associates were at least partly responsible. tens of millions of people, it is a staggering figure. number,ever the precise hoover's standing in the annals of organized humanitarianism is beyond dispute. as someone remarked a number of years ago, herbert hoover was responsible for saving more
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lives than any other person in history. what did this son of and i will he called defeat what the greatest famine of all times? did he earn his epithet, the great humanitarian and the heter of emergencies, labeled it the slippery road of public life. a path that led him to the president of the united states in 1920. experiences of this magnitude to have impact on the human beings caught up in them. such was the case with hoover. for all of the satisfactions of public service as a humanitarian, there was a price that he had to pay. time and again, between 19 14
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and 1920, hoover and his wife underwent the pangs of war induced separation. both from each other and from their two young sons. during one stretch, early in the war, he did not see his sons for nearly a year. california,ck in going to school. away from the was an obviously. the emotional strain of the work manifested itself most notably in what he experienced on or near the european battlefields. visitedber 1, 1914, he a canteen in brussels. some of the city's destitute judo for their daily ration. they watched hundreds of the poor standing, uncomplaining late in the rain. shivering, grasping bowls, pictures and precious little
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cards that would guarantee them a meal. upon receiving his or her allotment, each would pause, bow and under the single word mayor merci. of verdict his gaze and silently stared into the distance. experience,raumatic hoover rarely measured near a belgian breadline again. according to luke, her husband could not visit one unless literally compelled to. he would have his eyes near full of tears before he leaves. the pay off of the long line of ,xpected, chattering mites belgian children with a ticket of authority and to the chest or held in its grimy fest was for
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this orphaned island too much to bear. nor could hoover forget the glances he saw of the battle of the sum. from behind german lies in northern france and the summer of 19 16 when he was visiting that region as a part of his relief work. it was a scene that haunted his memories. i quote him now. motive for several hours to a point near a hilltop observation in the forest. a distance back from the forward trenches and a mile or two away from the main roads. , andg the last few miles occasional shell crashed nearby. the ingenious camouflaged of the of a false extent parallel seems to give protection to our brute. the constant rumble of artillery
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seemed to pulverize the air. glasses inh powerful the distant view was the unending blur of trenches. a volcanic explosion of dust. for over ahe air once in a while, like ants, the lines of men seem to show through the clouds of dust, here, under the thunder and belching volcanoes of 10,000 guns, over the months of this battle, the lives of germans and englishmen were thrown away. on a nearby road, on ending lines of germans plotted along the side of the road, with the silence of solemn resignation. down the left side came the on ending lines of wounded men, the
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walking cases staggering among cavalcade's of ambulances. a quarter of a million died and it was but one battle in that war. so core of it all did not in the least affect the german officers in the post. to them, it was pure mechanics. not one of the germans show the slightest anxiety. they said that the british were losing to-one, budding their heads against the stone wall. that was true, it was all a horrible, devastating reality. ." romance and no glory above all, perhaps, hoover did not forget what he witnessed in poland in august 1919. shortly before his planned return to the united states from
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paris, the head of the american relief administration decided to visit several central european countries that have benefited prodigiously from his humanitarian aid. when the polish government learned his intentions, it decided to honor him with what was called a children's festival. hours, tens of thousands of polish children paraded hoover at a racecourse near warsaw. -- sound was definitely deafening as the children cheered. a group of them captured a rabbit and bore it triumphantly to their benefactor. in the words of one witness, hoover unabashedly wept. with moments like these two c soul, thesear one's
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past five years probably seem triviality -- seem a triviality by comparison. how many of those children would be alive to parade in his honor had hoover not done anything to feed them? on september 13, 1919, the humanitarian hero returned at last to america's shores you would despite his phenomenal a congressman in the preceding 10 months, he was not contented. every day at the peace conference in paris, he had witnessed a depressing display of national rivalry, vengeful miss and greed -- vengeful ness and greed. seen those who would try
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to create a new social order on the principles of marxism. principally, he had seen america in contrast. hoover returned to his native dominant two convictions. the first was that the ideology of socialism as tested before him in europe was a catastrophic failure, unable to motivate men and women to produce sufficient goods for the needs of society. second conviction was also firmly held. hee than ever before, recalled the enormous distance america had drifted from europe in its 150 years of nationhood. he said this was reflected in our outlook on life, our relations to our neighbors and our social and political ideals. coming back to america from
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europe, he sensed that his own country was a vulnerable to the afflictions he had witnessed abroad. he implored his fellow citizens not to turn their country into "a laboratory for experiment in a foreign social diseases." in numerous speeches and articles in 1919 and 1920, he began to define the american alternative. socialtinctive american philosophy was the principle of equality and opportunity. the idea that no one should be handicapped in securing that in thelar niche community to which his abilities and character entitle them. where oppressive class barriers had generated misery and discontent, the american social system, he said,
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was based on negation of class. whichety, he said, in there was a constant flux of individuals in the community upon the basis of ability and character, is a moving, the row -- virile mass. in the months and years to come, hoover attempted to distill from his experiences abroad a coherent understanding of the american experiment he cherished. one result was a little volume individualism," which he published in 1922. another was political philosophy entitled "the challenge to liberty" in 1934. --e than most potent american presidents and political figures, hoover seemed driven to solidify and
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systematize his political beliefs. one compunction was the raw, turbulent experience of war and hunger from -- with which he grappled from 1914 until the early 1920's. it disturbed not only his home life but the furniture of his mind. hoover'snd 1920, estrangement from europe was not so deep as to preclude american involvement in european affairs. he favored the american ratifying of the treaty of versailles, joining the league of nations. he said it was a necessary step to restoring shattered europe to stability. as the years pass, hoover's estrangement from europe gradually intensified. the new world he came to believe, was remote from the
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imperialism, fanatic ideologies, age-old hates, racial antipathies, power politics and class stratification of europe. 1919,e had witnessed in he concluded, was something far more profound than what he called "the intrigues of diplomacy." it was, he said, the collision of civilizations that had grown 300 years apart. looking at the chasm he perceived between the old world and the new, he became an eloquent exponent of what we today call american exceptionalism. when hoover arrived back in america in september 1919, he bluntly told a reporter that he did not care to see europe again.
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but less than a generation later, the bloody quarrels and humanitarian tragedies of the old world beckoned him back. out inrld war ii broke 1939, hoover organized private unitedagencies in the states to raise money and final assistance to the distressed civilian populations of war ravaged poland and finland. many of the men who assisted him had been his colleagues in relief work 20 years before. and 1941, as the war in europe expanded, he attended -- attempted to replicate his world war i success in belgium by creating a new relief commission, this time for the imperiled civilians of small european democracies overrun by not to germany -- nazi germany.
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fearing that humanitarian intervention behind enemy lines germany, winston churchill locked his efforts. he was compelled to spend most of world war ii on the sidelines, without governmental responsibility, and during what he called "four years of frustration." yet hoover's humanitarian reputation and expertise were not entirely ignored. shortly after world war ii ended, he was a catalyst for the creation of the united nations international children's emergency fund, unicef. one of his associates in the cr be in world war i, became unicef's first executive erector. -- director.
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he later declared that he was hoover who originally had the idea of setting up the fund in the framework of the united nations. thanks in considerable measure to hoover's measure and nether -- another means to sucker the innocent was born. countless millions of people in europe faced what hoover inled the greatest famine all history, the aging humanitarian traveled around the world to 38 countries on a arduous famine relief food survey taken at the request of truman. hoover's meticulous fact-finding and high-profile consultation with world leaders on those trips helped to expedite the shipment of surplus food to suffering a nations, thereby helping to avert mass
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starvation. humanitarianseat solicitude for the victims of war and revolution diminish as he grew older. 82, he at the age of sponsored an organization that assisted refugees from the recent hungarian uprising against that country's soviet overlords. nothing touched hoover more deeply than the travails of world war i, that he had done so much to alleviate. get in the final years of his life, his thoughts turned increasingly to that tumultuous. -- tumultuous period in his career. in 1938, he published a book called "the ordeal of woodrow wilson," an account of wilson's diplomatic struggles in paris and hoover's concurrent battles as a relief administrator.
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eisenhower'sr, at invitation, hoover represented the united states at the brussels world fair. there, the people of belgium honored the man who had saved so many of their lives during the ordeal of 1914-1918. he reflected on the crb's historical significance. it brought -- it pioneered the methods of relief a great famines and developed a system for maintenance and rehabilitation of children during war and upheavals. 1959 and 1964, as hoover , heed the age of 90 published a four volume history of the stupendous american led
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enterprises and compassion, as he called them, that had brought food relief to scores of millions of people after world war i and world war ii. he entitled this narrative "an american epic." he wanted the american people to know the full, magnificent truth about their great humanitarian achievements in the 20th century. he feared, that was being lost to history. 100 years after world war i, it sometimes feels that his fear has been realized. have moreans today than a hazy awareness of the first world war am a letter known of hoover's american epic -- let alone of hoover's american epic. in many recent histories of the war, hoover and his myriad relief enterprises are barely
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mentioned, if at all. cuna is dueis la to the tendency of historians to focus on the battles and tangled statecraft, not on individuals like hoover who attempted to ease the suffering of helpless noncombatants. the coming in 1939 of a second and even more horrific world war in which hoover's humanitarian comeback was dargely supported -- thwarte has attenuated memory of the early conflict. but if time and the conventions of academic historiography have of theour consciousness humanitarian response to the great war, the centennial of the wars outbreak brings an
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opportunity for reminders. was moret in belgium than a minor episode in the conflict. it was a pioneering effort in global philanthropy. hoover and his team were not alone. thousands of other american civilians journeyed to europe during the war on voluntary emissions of mercy, as ambulance drivers, as nurses and surgeons, as members and leaders of organizations the american field service, the salvation army and the red cross. their devotion and achievements are fittingly memorialized in the exhibit called "the volunteers," now on display right here at the national world war i museum and memorial. percy of the british
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foreign office was essentially correct in saying that hoover more than any other came the advanced guard and symbol of this awakening. hoover's relief organizations and endeavors between 1914 and 1923 were the forerunners of the vast network of transnational, nongovernmental benevolent organizations with which we are familiar today. groups like save the children, doctors without borders and world vision. a century after the war to end grownrs, the world has accustomed to efforts to save civilian lives in the midst of armed strife and social upheaval. , a typhoon in syria in the philippines, a famine in somalia. in the aftermath or even in the
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midst of such disasters, humanitarian experts and assistance often led by americans will be there. one reason for this expectation, one reason for its acceptance, is the pioneering president crated over 100 years ago -- created over 100 years ago by hoover and his fellow volunteers. hoover's response to emergency in 1914 and the ensuing years of preparation not only saved billions of lives, his example and that of his institutions also made a constructive and enduring mark upon the western world. of 1914-1918,rs there emerged a profound and determined impulse cultivated by hoover and others to mitigate suffering and heal the wounds of war.
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this impulse did not abate when the guns fell silent. historian ago, a declared that the first world war was the worst single catastrophe in human history. years, here in kansas city and elsewhere, we will have many more occasions to ponder its appalling costs and consequences. but let us also remember the remarkable humanitarian ventures initiated and sustained by hoover hoover -- herbert hoover and others who followed him, beginning in 1914 and continuing thereafter. here is one legacy of the great war that can comfort and inspire. thank you. [applause]
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mr. nash: i understand that there might be time for questions. i think someone from the staff was going to call on people, or would you prefer me to do it? i can do either way. is that a question? in your remarks, you laid out a blueprint of what a humanitarian can do during times of crisis, world war i. as ifueprint looks to me george marshall and the marshall plan should have taken note of it. is there evidence that the marshall plan ever, or the
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people who worked on it, ever referred back to hoover, how he accomplished these things, how he went about? the focus is different, but the results and the attempts are pretty much the same. mr. nash: that is a good question. i have not seen much evidence of that. i do know of a historian who was studying a collective group of people who worked as volunteers with hoover, and some of them went on to careers, and i think his view is that you can probably find some distant connection, some awareness. you have to remember that when hoover was living through world war ii, his great rival was franklin roosevelt, and hoover was not given a role. president truman behaved differently toward hoover and that heas very grateful was given an opportunity to be
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influential again. hoover did those missions. he did not administer relief but he did important work for truman and surveying the need and getting different countries to ship food to the proper region to meet the need. some misgivings about the marshall plan, but he publicly endorsed it. i think his concern, as i understand it, was that it seemed to him to open-ended. that the europeans might take of aid and become dependents the united states. he always emphasized in this kind of humanitarian work that people organize themselves. thinkample, in russia, i the russians would have liked for him to state later, but he said no, the russians can feed themselves. he would not make himself a permanent fixture of the scene. he believed recipient nations should do whatever they could.
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the belgians i think he was impressed by because every time he was there, the communities work together. it was a divided country politically between the socialist, the liberals and the catholic parties, and every committee had representation of each party so that no one could accuse an action of favoring its own, and he made that a strong principle in his administration of russian relief. becomedid not want it to something that always lasted once the crisis was over. then the countries should be back on their own. think his worry about the marshall plan was that it might turn into a perpetual foreign aid program and that the europeans would not do enough to build themselves a backup, he publicly supported. i don't see myself a lot of evidence that marshall people
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were thinking about hoover and world war i as they made their plan, but there may have been individuals who had that earlier experience and applied it to the formulation of the marshall mission. i think another person is approaching. please feel free to come down to either microphone. >> thank you. i am fascinated by the international implications of what you say, and my question turns to herbert hoover and his impact in the united states of america. i'm thinking about the great mississippi flood of 19.7, i think i've gotten my years right -- flood of 1927, i think after my years right. would you tell me something about his humanitarian organization and philosophy, and
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how they impacted domestically? mr. nash: as hoover salt europe, much of it was after the war, it was chaos. new countries being formed and civil wars and the american people he came and had great prestige because they represented hoover and hoover meant food. he was able to have the americans do a lot for europe. as he perceived america, he thought america had built into what he called opportunity and social mobility and neighborly will -- iness, built into the american experience was a community experience, and he saw that through community chest and the red cross and other entities. he tended to rely on those organizations existing, networks
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of philanthropy and volunteerism. saw the volunteer spirit as part of the american heritage, so in 1927 when the mississippi river flooded which was the inatest natural disaster american history at that time, at least 600,000 people were displaced from their homes in arkansas, louisiana and the lower south. calvin coolidge set up a government committee to work with the red cross. hoover was on that committee, and hoover became head of the efforts. for several months, hoover, who was secretary of commerce under he organizedge, that relief effort for the mississippi river. he went down there and organized committees, works with the red cross, and he saw this as an example of americans helping themselves. he went on national radio, as
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did present coolidge, and millions of dollars were brought in. it was an impressive response from the public for providing short-term aid and assistance. it had the effect of refurbishing hoover's humanitarian credentials at an opportune time politically, because as you know, there was another big event in 1927. in august, calvin coolidge chose in 1920un for president eight, so suddenly the path to the white house was open to hoover and others. he would not have challenged coolidge. now here is this humanitarian hero, this master of emergencies , performing very useful service. inmate him a hero in the south, made him a national hero, and it reminded people that he was an efficiency expert, and it reminded them of the
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humanitarian work that had made him famous in europe. he was organizing americans to help themselves, raising money through private funds, getting businessmen to serve voluntarily without pay and do the necessary assistance at the grassroots. this may hoover a formidable figure for the presidential nomination, and a silent movie was made about his humanitarian work in 1928 called "hoover, master of emergencies." it is on youtube if you want to watch it. the -- he carried some of the southern states in 1928 harley for the relief, partly for other reasons due to prohibition and so on, but that was an important part for him. it was important to him that
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america had the sole -- it's soul, and the ability to help itself. what comes next? the great depression. communityanized assistance. i think it was in 1931, he orchestrated a national campaign that raise about 100 million dollars, a huge amount of money in those days, the entire federal budget was only $4 billion. voluntary contributions to replenish all of the relief agencies who were trying to deal with the unemployed and other forms of private asian as the depression worsened. the challenge was that the need was so great that ultimately hoover agreed, probably too late for his own political benefit in the summer of 1932, to allow the
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government to loan money to the states, which could then spread the relief. that was an important bridge point to the new deal. but hoover never lost his fundamental faith that the american people have it in them. the new dealif turned into a government program, it would remove the kind of volunteer impulse. memy memory serves correctly, once the relief agencies started, for which i think there was a need, the voluntary giving to the red cross plummeted. hoover was worried about the long-term implications of turning away from volunteer self-help and community organization. being your brother's keeper and that kind of philosophy. he was worried that it became subsumed or replaced by dependents upon a bureaucratic
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regime. i think those are some of the ways that the european experience affected his later response to the flood and the depression. >> thank you. i am not a historian. i was born in 1948, kind of the middle of the 20th century. i was thinking, i never really thought much about world war i, could this period of time be another 100 year period where we go through more turmoil and 100 years from now they will be looking back at this time period , not in exactly the same way, but a similar way than we are looking back at the 1920's and 1916? maybe in 2116, things will see it more clearly.
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that is what i am thinking. i don't know what your thoughts are. mr. nash: someone said that history is a conversation without and. when famous anniversaries come around, we just went through the 150th anniversary of the civil war, and we have had various memory -- memorials for pearl harbor and such. i think there is a natural isdency to look back at what more clear or seems more salient to us now than the people -- down to the people who lived through it. it, youn the midst of may not see the long-term implications. i don't think they probably did, but we can look back at world war i and say that one of the things that happened was the birth of this impulse of american led humanitarianism,
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and it becomes not only governmental, that nongovernmental, and it builds. we have an incredible worldwide array of rapid response to any kind of natural or man-made catastrophe. that was not built into the world system in 1914, as i emphasized earlier. what hoover was doing was unprecedented, especially on the scale, an entire nation under enemy occupation. it was a remarkable thing. i'm not sure it would've happened if hoover had not been there to make it happen. he may have been the indispensable person for that. tolso have my doubts as whether that belgium relief would've happened if he had started a year or two later. those first months of the war, there are some important features. one, with the implication of a short war.
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that things would get back to normal after the harvest. but the harvest was disrupted. the men were put in uniform and there was disruption of property in northern france and belgium and so on, and governments were sinking ships. a food crisis, but no one could foresee that he was going to go on. no one could foresee the terrible stalemate. , thee war went on animosities deepened and the war turned into not a quick one, but a mobilization of everybody, the civilians at home and food was the focus. the american people were mobilized and as we entered the war, we conserved more, and
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farmers were supposed to plant more. this was to keep the french and the italians in the war. as the war went on, the hatreds became deeper, and the germans a particular felt they were being victims of what they called the hunger blockade. they were deeply bitter at british submarines. i am not taking sides, it is just how it happened. i think that given the psychology of 1916, that the idea of a neutral organization --ng in would have been would not have been so acceptable. churchill and the admirals were opposed to it, but one reason why it happened, the expectation of a short war. works -- the idea that
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wars are limited. thirdly, to keep the united states happy. the united states was a neutral, and i'm convinced one reason the british permitted human -- hoover to carry on was precisely that belgian was an american cause. we were rooting for elgin -- belgium. the british new this and they knew that if they pulled the plug on this american public opinion could turn anti-british at a time when the british and french were trying to buy food and munitions from the united states. the british had a motive to permit this to happen to keep from offending uncle sam. all of those factors were much in play for the first year or two of the war, but a think as the war went on, we would not have seen it. maybe that is why it did not
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happen in world war ii. churchill was now prime minister. his argument was the most humane thing to do was when the war quickly. but that is a world war ii story. i do think we will continue, and i have -- i am glad we have the opportunities to continue, because different things come into view. i think it is an appropriate thing, in this case, with world centennialave a remembrance were different things can be brought to light and people can reflect. i think that is built into the study of history. >> and into our society as a whole. my dad was from missouri, and those farmers did not like hoover at all. they thought he caused the depression. history changes things, i guess, when you look back. mr. nash: hoover never quite
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overcame the great burden that fell he was tagged as the man who did nothing. i think that is an unfair description, but that is another lecture. he did somewhat recover the humanitarian respect, i would say he armed respect again. harry truman can get some credit for that. hoover lived long enough that people could see that he was not the cause of the depression, he was not malevolent and making this happening -- happen. measurehe regained some of respect from the american people, and as time goes by, we can perhaps be more detached weighit and way things -- things more adequately. >> time for one more question. earlier thatned
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hoover supported the treaty of her site and league of nations. -- heole do you think the thought the league of nations might have had in place of relief organizations, if any? mr. nash: i don't know about the relief aspect. he did not like the treaty of versailles in a lot of ways much and yet he felt that the necessary thing to accomplish was to get europe back on its feet economically. he believed -- i don't think he had the confidence in collective security and so forth, but that was built into the mechanism of peace, so he said if we can get them thinking about restoring order, restoring the economy, peacemaking, and just have a settled framework for going forward, that some of the wounds can heal and europe can be
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productive again economically. he felt at that time that not onlythat this was in america's interest, but that america needed a healthy europe. he thoughter on, america could be more self-sufficient, because of what he had seen in europe in 1918, he very much doubt it europe would come out for the better in world war ii and he had a lot of objections. he thought if we intervened that our freedoms would be at risk, that we would have to become -- he would use the word totalitarian state to defeat a totalitarian state. he worried about the long-range implications of a total war on the american system if we were to go back. he also felt that europe was enmeshedy in mashed --
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in age-old rivalries and the united states had a limited ability to navigate through that and make it better. he got burned by what he saw in world war i, i think. >> do you think the isolationism that the united states seems to quickly revert back to playing a that, witht, -- with the relief efforts? mr. nash: i don't know how he felt about the relief in terms of the league of nations apparatus. he thought there were many flaws to the treaty, but his essential point was, first of all, he wanted the league of nations without any reservations, and then he said it was the price of getting things done and getting back to normal. 1920's,me, in the europe seemed to be moving in
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constructive paths. we look back in world war ii, and it is -- we can see that it was inevitable that it would happen again. hoover was a moderate progressive. he considered himself a progressive republican. wilsonworked for woodrow on a nonpartisan basis, and some democrats wanted hoover to run as a democrat in 1920, to be wilson's air -- heir. i don't want to give you the feeling that he was an embittered isolationist in 1920. was a gapl there between us and europe but at the same time he thought it was in our interest that europe get back to normal, and he thought that the treaty could be a step in that direction. he was a strong believer as president and before in disarmament treaties, for example.
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he thought it was an immense, terrible waste of resources to build up great armies and weapons of war. he was a birthright quaker, i don't think quakerism is totally worldview, of his but it was an influence. the quaker faith is to be a peacemaker and i think you see toe of that in his attitude the world and what he saw as constructive or compliment. -- accomplishment. butas distant from europe, it got deeper as time went by. he was very opposed to what he felt was british manipulation of american public opinion before world harbor, and he was fighting for americans to withdraw. he wanted eight to bring, but he did not want america to give aid to bring in 1940 way -- 1940 way in a way that would engulf us or suck us into the war.
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his argument was, his claim was that roosevelt was trying to maneuver us toward eventual intervention. hoover was a post about. -- opposed to that. once the conflict came, he supported the war effort, but he always felt the way things happened could have been avoided. but he had a great sense in his -- thatfe that europe the united states was not going to go to europe and make it a wonderful place. ofhad a sense of the limits what american power can do as a government. that does not mean you should avoid humanitarian work. he would and did support that. that was not a government action. >> kind of like get back on your feet, and we are gone. want us --e did not
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he even said in 1917, that it was a necessity. , but hei am a quaker did not want the united states inenter world war i alliances with anyone. he thought the european powers would try to manipulate us into their systems of all alliances. it is interesting, woodrow wilson referred to the ouratriots in the war as associated powers. he did not like to use the word the allies. we were associated with them. had a desire for american detachment from what is perceived as old europe. hoover stall of close the kind of rivalries and tensions that occurred after the war, and so
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-- he was really annoyed at many of them. the overriding purpose he had was to save the children, save the people, give beyond the snare of too much government to government involvement. >> thank you very much. i know there are more questions and the audience, and i saw some of you about to get up. i believe that dr. nash will stay for a little bit longer if you want to come down and either ask your question. some of you have brought your books with you. though i did not ask beforehand, areght have a pen, if you willing to sign some books? mr. nash: i am more than happy. >> thank you also much for coming out this evening. , historysh mentioned
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continues to be a conversation and that you would enjoy this conversation here this evening and applied to our present day and draw lessons out of hoover's life, particularly the importance of humanitarian effort. on behalf of the national archives of kansas city and the national world war i museum in memorial, is joined me in thanking dr. george nash. [applause] >> you're watching american
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history tv. 48 hours of programming on american history every weekend on c-span3. follow us on twitter for information on our schedule and to keep up with the latest history news. c-span's student documentary contest is in full swing and this year we are asking students to tell us what is the most important issue for the new president and congress to address in 2017? joining me is actually, she is a former winner for her documentary "help for homeless heroes." tell me about your documentary. >> my partner and i produced a documentary where we cover issues of homelessness on the city's -- streets of orange, california. these people are
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on the streets, not having family or anyone to care for them was not ok. we decided we were going to talk about this issue within our community and we decided to make a documentary. i incurred all seniors in high school, even juniors, even mill schoolers tomiddle use this platform, to raise your voice and say that your generation deserves to be heard in the government. if there is a better place to myak these issues -- i think advice for the students who are on the fence of doing this documentary is to really look into your community and see what is affecting those around you, because they are the ones who you love, they're the ones you see the most, the ones around you almost every day. if there is an issue that you see happen every day on the street, that is probably where
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you can start. be a part of this documentary because you want to be a voice your community. >> thank you, ashley. if you want more information on our documentary contest, go to our website. next on american history tv, we hear from two silver star recipients from the vietnam war and the korean war. the silver star is the third highest military combat decoration that can be awarded to a member of the u.s. armed forces. this 45 minute talk is part of the three-day conference hosted by the american veterans center. >> our next panel is titled "american valor, legends and trailblazers." moderatorhave as our jonathan allies, a journalist at dc seven in washington


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