WASHINGTON (Feb. 29)
Former President Herbert Hoover, an organizer of the Commission for Polish Relief, told the House Foreign Affairs Committee today that 7,000,000 Poles face starvation unless help is forthcoming immediately. The committee is considering bills calling for a Government appropriation of $10,000,000 to $20,000,000 for Polish relief.
Appearing before a congressional committee for the first time since he left the White House, Hoover told a room packed with spectators, newsreel cameramen and reporters that the situation in Poland has become desperate.
Ordinarily, he said, the Poles were a self-sustaining people, but since the Nazi invasion so much of their foodstuffs had been confiscated and removed to German and the economic life of the country had been so disrupted, that the population was reduced to misery. He estimated that $40,000,000 would be needed to relieve the situation.
Rep. Hamilton Fish (Rep.,NY) asked Hoover: “Several people have testified about the work the Polish Red Cross is doing. I understand that the Polish Red Cross has been merged with the German Red Cross.”
Hoover replied: “It is my understanding that the Polish and German Red Cross have both been integrated into a German Government relief set-up. You will find people wearing the Red Cross emblem but to all practical purposes it is no longer the Red Cross.”
Fish said: “Then in other words these people talking about the Polish Red Cross are talking about something that doesn’t exist.” Hoover nodded.
A spokesman for the American Red Cross later denied Hoover’s statement that the Polish and German Red Cross have been integrated into the Nazi relief setup. The spokesman said the Polish Red Cross was still operating, although under adverse conditions, and that the German Red Cross was functioning as a parallel but not allied organization to the Nazi relief agency. The German Red Cross, it was emphasized, cooperates with the International Red Cross with headquarters at Geneva and is concerned principally with overseeing treaty obligations and not direct relief.
Hoover denied that Polish relief embraced any threat of involvement in Europe’s wars, and said: “As far as I am concerned, I am prepared to feed women and children and I don’t care of what race they are.”
He insisted that the Allied Governments must have assurances that foodstuffs do not fall into German hands or not one pound of food could reach Poland. Negotiations between a group of people he called together and the German Government were continuing, he said, adding: “I have no doubt an agreement will be reached in a few weeks.”
He said he was sure the President would have no objection to sending surplus American food to Poland under the terms of the agreement now under discussion.
Hoover was closely questioned by Rep. W.O. Burgin (Dem.,N.C.) on the ex-President’s recommendation that America should ship its surplus supplies to Poland under the aegis of an international committee. Burgin asked whether cotton shipped to Poland would reach “all the people.” Hoover said it would have to be regulated completely by Americans.
Burgin pumped questions at Hoover concerning the Jews and Poles who have been segregated in the Lublin “reservation” and elsewhere. Hoover said he did not think the segregated portions of the population could ever adjust themselves to a new life and therefore relief in Poland would have to be a continuing process.
Asked whether, in his opinion, the Nazis would let the Poles and Jews perish, Hoover declined to answer categorically, but said that the German reply to starvation would be citation of the Allied blockade.