MARCH 1, 1947
NEW YORK, Friday—I hope that every one will read with extreme care Herbert Hoover's report on Germany, because the basic effects of the war are set forth there very simply. In the first World War, Germany did not suffer in this way, but other countries in Europe did suffer in exactly the same way at the end of that war.
France has twice been sapped of one generation, among them some of her finest young men. Great Britain has gone through the same thing twice. Russia did not suffer so much in the first World War, but has suffered in full measure in this last one. And the small nations have all suffered in similar fashion.
Germany is experiencing this drastic loss of manpower for the first time, and the figures given by Mr. Hoover are illuminating. In the age group between 20 and 40, there are 6 men to 10 women, and in the group from 40 to 60, about 7 men to 10 women. This means a very profound effect not only on the nation's economy at the present time, but on what will happen to Germany 20 to 30 years from now.
Mr. Hoover notes the shortage of housing and of coal, and the changes made in food production by the alterations in Germany's boundary line and the consequent shifts of population.
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Nobody has questioned that the food ration is low, and Mr. Hoover points out very accurately where the deficiencies hit hardest. The self-suppliers, or farmers, are naturally in good condition; and it is satisfactory to know that the prospective and nursing mothers and the children under 6 have had sufficient supplemental diet to keep them in good condition. But beyond that, the report is exactly what one would expect.
The people's physical condition shows undernourishment. In a country where great physical endurance will be needed to rebuild it, the population is probably not only unfit to do hard work, but unfit to meet the strain spiritually and mentally.
Mr. Hoover bases this part of his report on surveys made by Dr. William H. Sebrell, Jr., of the United States Public Health Service, who was a member of his mission. Dr. Sebrell also visited Italy, France, Belgium, Holland and Britain, and found that the people in those countries were very nearly in the nutritional condition that existed in the pre-war period.
The recommendations made by Mr. Hoover to increase as quickly as possible the rations for children over 6 years of age and for adolescents seem wise, as this would cover about 3,500,000 people in Germany, or 50 percent of those in need of extra nutrition. In the American zone, a systematic distribution of school lunches, which we can accomplish with available Army ration resources, would achieve this result.
The main suggestion, which will strike most of our farmers as sensible, is that we ship 400,000 tons of surplus potatoes to Germany. I am wondering if there is some way of dehydrating these potatoes and thereby using much less space for shipment. Of course, if they are to be used for seed potatoes, that would not be possible, but when they are to be used for food, this might increase shipping space.