Herbert Hoover to Woodrow Wilson


Herbert Hoover to Woodrow Wilson


Hoover, Herbert, 1874-1964




1918 December 19


Herbert Hoover writes to Woodrow Wilson about the need to bolster German food supplies.


Hoover-Wilson Correspondence, Hoover Institution, Hoover Institution Archives, Stanford, California


Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library & Museum


Wilson, Woodrow, 1856-1924--Correspondence
Hoover, Herbert, 1874-1964--Correspondence




Following is a letter from Mr. Hoover to the President Dec. 19/18.

Paris, 19th, Dec. 1918.

Dear Mr. President

I am strongly impressed that some immediate action needs to be taken with regard to internal conditions in Germany.

As you are aware there is incipient or practical Bolshevist control in many of the large centres: There is also a Separatist movement in progress amongst the German States; there is also,- apparently, largely supported - a movement towards the election of a constitutional assembly of some kind.

Viewing the German Empire from a food point of view, there will be no hope of saving these people from starvation if Bolshevist activities extend over the Empire in a similar manner to Russia, with its sequent break down in commercial distribution and in the control and distribution of existing food. The extremes to which such a situation can extend are well exemplified by the already practical depopulation of the cities of Moscow and Petrograd and such a situation would not be confined to two cities as in Russia, but to thirty Cities in Germany, and the saving of the German people would be absolutely hopeless if the normal commercial and distributive functions and food control should cease, as it certainly would under a Bolshevist regime.

Again a political Separatist movement amongst the German States would produce the same situation that we have in the old Austrian Empire, where some sections of the Empire have a surplus of food and by practical embargoes are creating food debacles in other centres. We must maintain a liquidity of the existintg food stocks in Germany over the whole Empire, or again the situation will become almost unsolvable.

In order to visualize to you somewhat the problem, if we say that the normal consumption of the German people, without restraint, is 100, the German Empire within its old boundaries must possess today somewhere about 60% of this quantity. If there is distribution and control, the population can probably go through without starvation on something like 80% of normal, and therefore the problem is to find 20% by way of imports. If there is an extension of the Bolshevist movement or extension of the Separatist movement, so far as food is concerned, we shall have some localities consuming 100 out of their local supplies and feeding any surplus to animals. The problem will be unsolvable by way of the available supplies in the world for import because the total consumption under such conditions would run a great deal more than 80% and all this aside from the almost impossible completion of dealing with distribution in the hands of such highly incompetent agencies as Bolshevist Committees.

It would appear to me therefore that some announcement with regard to the food policies in Germany is critically necessary, and at once. If that announcement could be made something on the line that the United States and Allies could only hope to solve the food difficulties in Germany until next harvest through the hands of a stable and experienced government based on an expressed popular will, and a hint be given that the Allies cannot anticipate furnishing the food assistance to Germany through the hands of Bolshevist elements, it would at once strengthen the hope situation in Germany and probably entirely eliminate the incipient Bolshevism in progress, and make possible the hope of saving their food situation. I realize that this is a suggestion of some delicacy, but I feel that I should present it to you.

Yours faithfully,
Herbert C. Hoover


The Honorable
Woodrow Wilson
President of the United States.

Original Format



Wilson, Woodrow, 1856-1924




Hoover, Herbert, 1874-1964, “Herbert Hoover to Woodrow Wilson,” 1918 December 19, WWP19485, Hoover Institute at Stanford University Collection, Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library & Museum, Staunton, Virginia.