Testimony Before the Senate Committee on Banking and Currency, January 21, 1921



The CHAIRMAN. Miss Addams, I think this is a subject that you are interested in?

Miss ADDAMS. Yes, sir; it is one that I am very much interested in. I went abroad in the summer of 1919 to do some work with the Quakers who were feeding various people in Europe. My friend, Dr. Alice Hamilton, and I went into several countries and got a very painful impression of the lack of food everywhere. We found starving children, and those threatened with tuberculosis and with rickets, through long-continued malnutrition.

Senator HITCHCOCK. Please specify the countries.

Miss ADDAMS. We found some of the worst conditions in northern France; also in Germany, where the Quakers were working in connection with Mr. Hoover.

We went into the region called Eyzibuge, where there was great suffering, both on the German side and on the Czechoslovakia side. We visited altogether five different countries, although we saw children from other countries who were being fed in Switzerland.

Senator HITCHCOCK.  Was that last year?

Miss ADDAMS. It was in the summer of 1919, but since then I have been in constant communication with people in charge of feeding centers in various European countries.

Mr. Chairman and gentlemen. I think that unless some food is brought in from the outside those children are bound to grow up into very inefficient and very incapable people. Mr. Hoover, in asking for $33,000,000 seeks to feed three and one-half million children who are already threatened with disease from malnutrition. They divide the children into four classes. There is the class that is approximately normal, the class that shows the first signs of [page 2] malnutrition but no disease, the class that shows symptoms of tuberculosis or rickets or other disease, and a fourth class that needs hospital care. Mr. Hoover and his people up to date have only been able to take care of the third and fourth classes. The children in perfectly normal condition they let alone. They take care of those children who would in all probability die without the care which they give them. So even though Mr. Hoover and the people affiliated with him are doing this splendid work it still means that the normal population of those countries, not only the children and adults but the old people, are suffering horribly from continued malnutrition.

Senator HENDERSON. What are they doing in a medical way for the deformed children?

Miss ADDAMS. All the agencies are doing what they can for them -- the Red Cross in Poland, Czechoslovakia, and elsewhere; the Quakers have their hospital units as well as their feeding stations; Mr. Hoover makes a special point of caring for children in the hospitals. But of course the need extends all through eastern and southern Europe. It is said that southern Italy has less food now than at any time during the war. I have had a number of friends in Austria who are just coming back. I suppose the greatest need first now in Europe is in eastern Poland, but Vienna certainly comes next.

Senator FLETCHER. Mr. Hoover is operating in Austria, is he not?

Miss ADDAMS. Yes, sir; but only for the children who show marked malnutrition. He does not attempt to reach the population as a whole -- the adults or the people that are old.

Senator HITCHCOCK. His reports show a million and half in Poland, and those are all invalid children?

Miss ADDAMS. The children can walk, of course, and are able to come to the feeding centers, but they are not normal children. When they reach a certain normal standard he discontinues.

Senator KENDRICK. Do you happen to know whether the people of those countries, who have any reserve of wealth, are assisting in this work themselves?

Miss ADDAMS. There is no way of knowing. I think that they do contribute, but I suppose that even if they should put in all they have, it would still be totally inadequate, because the food material is not there.

The CHAIRMAN. Mr. Hoover expects to raise $33,000,000. Will that be sufficient?

Miss ADDAMS. That will be sufficient only to take care of those children on the verge of disease. They are all examined and if they are normal, he does not feed them. His object is to keep the children alive, to help them before it is too late.

Senator HITCHCOCK. Mr. Chairman. I do not understand for what purpose Miss Addams appears. In support of what measure does she appear?

The CHAIRMAN. I do not think there is any bill pending before the committee.

Senator HENDERSON. She appears simply to explain the general conditions in those countries.

Miss ADDAMS. Yes; in the hope that this committee will devise an adequate method of relief. Then I wish also to say that when one comes back here and finds -- I live in Chicago, but I was born and [page 3] brought up in a country of farms; I have my own farm and see a good deal of farmers one way or another -- as I was saying, when you come back here you are shocked, of course, by the knowledge that there is more food material in this country than is being used --

Senator KENDRICK. And more than can be used.

Miss ADDAMS. Yes; and more than can be used, and it seems to me there ought to be some method of getting this food to where there is a dearth of it, to make some sort of connection between the two.

Senator HITCHCOCK. The name of Mr. Hoover's organization is what -- The American League?

Miss ADDAMS. It has been called the American Relief for European Children.

Senator HITCHCOCK. Is it not the American Relief Council?

Miss ADDAMS. The name may have been changed recently.

Senator FLETCHER. What is being done in China?

Senator HITCHCOCK. Senator, will you allow me to continue this for a moment. I want to get this in the record, because we had it up in the Foreign Relations Committee yesterday, and it was not very satisfactorily solved. If Miss Addams has any knowledge of the matter I want to know about this association, or this organization of Mr. Hoover's.

Miss ADDAMS. Their headquarters was 115 Broadway for a long time, and they then called themselves the American Relief for European Children.

Senator HITCHCOCK. That organization is backed by the American Relief Administration?  

Miss ADDAMS. Yes, sir.

Senator HITCHCOCK. The American Red Cross, the American Friends' Service --

Miss ADDAMS. Yes, sir; they are Quakers.

Senator HITCHCOCK. The Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, the Federal Council of the Church of Christ of America, the Knights of Columbus, the Y.M.C.A., and the Y.W.C.A. Are there any other American associations or societies that are engaged in this relief work?

Miss ADDAMS. I do not know of any others that are definitely connected. They were all gathered together for this last drive. Mr. Hoover expected to go out of business after the harvest of 1921, but this great need continued and the agencies that were already operating in Europe were reorganized into a federation -- it may be called a council.

Senator HITCHCOCK. Can you tell us how much money has been raised already, approximately?

Miss ADDAMS. A little more than half of the $33,000,000.

Senator KENDRICK. Miss Addams, will you give us any suggestion that you have to offer?

Miss ADDAMS. It seems to me that it is a great indictment of our intelligence and of our goodwill, and, in a sense, of our morality, that as a Nation we do not recognize this great need in Europe and devise some method of getting foodstuffs over there. Then, of course, the people are suffering from cold. I happen to know a professor's family in Austria, and none of his people are possessed of underclothing; their stores are exhausted. We were in [Chemnitz], [page 4] a great cotton center there, in 1919, when there was no coal or raw material. Those great factories -- hosiery factories and others -- were not operating, and the people of Europe are left without proper clothing because they have not the raw material from which to manufacture them. So, quite as important as food, in a sense, are these clothing materials -- the wool and cotton. Of course, credit must be given them, because they can not buy, as they have no money; there is a great depreciation, as you all know, of the values; and they also have no raw material that they can exchange. So it is absolutely a matter of credit until they can get on their feet.

Senator HITCHCOCK. We have more cotton and wool over here than we know what to do with.

Miss ADDAMS. A billion pounds of wool are in storage, I understand.

Senator FLETCHER. While Mr. Hoover is raising this money, why can not he go out in the open market and buy stuff and take United States ships to take it over there?

Miss ADDAMS. He does, and his $33,000,000 will feed about 3,500,000 children, who are in a perilous condition through malnutrition; but the United States should do more than that. It is estimated that 80,000,000 people are in great distress through lack of food and clothing.

Senator FLETCHER. When will they be producing over there? When will their crops be coming in?

Miss ADDAMS. Mr. Hoover said, a little while ago, that the entire crop in Austria, if it were all consumed by the Austrians themselves, would keep them about one-third of the year.

The CHAIRMAN. There is no coal left in Austria. The Austrian Government, I understand, has practically surrendered to the Allies; that is the truth, it would seem.

Senator FLETCHER. But that does not keep them from cultivating their land.

The CHAIRMAN. But it would seem to me that the Allies, under the circumstances, as they practically hold a receivership there, ought to take some action in the matter so that the people will not starve to death.

Senator FLETCHER. Do you find those people trying to get along? Do you find them trying to restore their industries and go to work on the farms and in the factories and elsewhere?

Miss ADDAMS. Yes, sir. Of course, they can not work their factories. In Chemnitz they could not work in the cotton factories, because they had no coal nor raw material and the people were standing around the streets. In normal times about one-fourth of the grain consumed in central and eastern Europe was imported. They also imported a large amount of fodder which gave them their dairy products, which was almost another one-fourth of the food consumed.

Senator KENDRICK. Fodder in the shape of oil cakes?

Miss ADDAMS. Yes, sir; so they are temporarily cut off from almost half of their food supplies.

Senator HITCHCOCK. Of course, this has got to be done on some gigantic scale. Now, what plan do you purpose?

Miss ADDAMS. I would like to speak for the proposition made by the Farmers' National Council: That one-half of the appropriation [page 5] asked for the Army and Navy be made as a large loan for European countries; that a commission be appointed, similar to the war commissions, to buy food and send it to Europe.

Senator KENDRICK. Do you happen to know whether the Governments in those countries would be glad to assume the obligation if this country would make them the loan?

Miss ADDAMS. Czechoslovakia has signified its willingness to do it; and several others are clamoring for a loan. I think there is no doubt that they will all be glad to do it, as otherwise their people may be wiped out.

Senator HITCHCOCK. Germany would do it if we could secure as a preliminary from the Entente nations permission to have our loan given precedence of their payment on reparation. But we have got to get the consent of France particularly for that, and France would not do it.

Miss ADDAMS. Well, leave Germany out for the moment. There are all these other countries, Austria, Poland, Czechoslovakia, and the others.

Senator HITCHCOCK. Do you think Germany or Austria would ever be able to pay anything?

Miss ADDAMS. I do not know; but I think they have got to be fed. I do not think this generation of Americans will allow people to freeze and starve to death when we have the clothing and the food here, and I think it is up to our Government to find some way to do it.

Senator HENDERSON. Do you think the United States Government alone should undertake this, or do it in connection with the allied powers?

Miss ADDAMS. I think it should be done with the consent and cooperation of the allied powers. I think we ought to do it because we have the resources and the other countries have not. The French resources are in a very wretched condition after all these years of war.

Senator KENDRICK. In my opinion the Government ought to do it with or without the consent of any other country.

Senator FLETCHER. Are any of these agencies working in China?

Senator KENDRICK. Pardon me, Senator, it is impossible for the people of any country situated as we are, earning $25,000,000,000 a year, to allow these people to starve.

Senator HENDERSON. Out of the $25,000,000,000, how much does it take to produce the crops in this country; how much do we make?

Senator KENDRICK. Our net earnings are estimated at $25,000,000,000 a year.

Senator HITCHCOCK. That is taking agriculture and everything?

Senator KENDRICK. In every line, of course.

Miss ADDAMS. As to your question, Senator, of course, China is being considered. There is a very good association recently formed for relief of China. I have knowledge that here and in other nations there is a disposition to relieve China.

I think that we ought to remember that all during the war most of these European countries lived upon half rations. I believe they count 3,200 calories as a normal ration, not what we habitually eat, but what we ought to eat, and during the war the ration was cut down to between thirteen and fifteen hundred calories all over [page 6] Europe. Now they are cutting down again, one-third means actual starvation.

When we were in Europe we were told that the older people of Vienna had made a suicide pact; they had made up their minds to commit suicide so that the younger people could have the food. This was but one sign of the hideous desperation everywhere. We went constantly among the poor people; to the charity organizations, to the hospitals, and the child's welfare stations, and I could tell you many pitiful tales of what we saw.

Senator HENDERSON. What I had in mind was, could not better results be accomplished through cooperation with the allied nations?

Miss ADDAMS. I do not believe they are in a position to cooperate; they have neither the money nor the goods. I think we are a creditor nation, and that we are the nation that ought to act.

Senator HITCHCOCK. What do you think of the effect on public opinion in this country?

Miss ADDAMS. I think that public opinion would be for it. I think that there is great uneasiness and great unhappiness all over the country because this nation is doing nothing. We are constantly hearing: "Why does not Congress act?"

Senator HENDERSON. But when we come to tax the people themselves, do you not think that we would hear another cry?

Miss ADDAMS. I think the people would rather be taxed to feed Europe than be taxed for a great army. There is great restlessness about taxation, but much of it is in regard to the large amount we are appropriating for armament. They think that the war is over and why keep up these huge military and naval establishments?

Mr. Chairman, that is all I will say at this time. I do not want to take up more time of the committee.

The CHAIRMAN. The committee is very much obliged to you, Miss Addams.

(Whereupon, at __________ the committee adjourned to meet at the call of the chairman.)