Memorial to the Reparation Commission, 1919




In view of the extreme urgency of the matter, we venture to ask the Reparation Commission to give their most careful and earnest consideration to the consequences which will ensue if those clauses in the Peace Treaty be immediately enforced which provide for the cession by Germany of 140,000 [milk] cows and 10,000 goats.

The recent White Paper (Cmd. 280) on the subject of Food Conditions in Germany contains reliable evidence of the terrible suffering among children which the deficiency in the milk supply is already causing in that country. On page 9 Professor Starling writes: "This lack of milk has serious effects on the health of the children," and, "the almost complete withdrawal of milk at three years, and the small amount of butter available for the family cause rickets to be prevalent in practically all classes. As a result, not only is the resistance to infection greatly diminished, but the coming generation will be marked by the presence of numerous cripples from the deformities of bones induced by this disorder."

Moreover, the physical condition of the German [page 2] population is, the authors of the White Paper themselves regard as probable (see their Prefatory Note), even worse in some of the parts not visited by them. On the authority of representatives of the English society of Friends, who visited Germany in July and August, twenty-five [percent] of the child population in some of the towns are victims of rickets. In Dortmund, one out of five of the children between two and seven cannot walk, and many will always be dwarfs. Tuberculosis begins at a much earlier age than formerly, and by the time it is recognizable is a death-sentence.

In the White Paper itself we read that the increase of tuberculosis in Germany has been immense, "the deaths from this disease having increased, according to the locality, from two-and-a-half to six times." (Page 15). Especially among the children of the middle class, Prof. Starling writes, "we meet with fulminating cases of tubercle, proving fatal within three months of its appearance." In combating "the white plague" milk is a prime necessity. In the interests of Europe and of the world we feel that the German people should not be further hampered in their attempt to limit its ravages.

Short as is the present milk supply, we are told that quite apart from the proposed cession of cows it will soon be even less. On page 20 of the White Paper, Mr. McDougall says, "today even in the full flush of the grass season the condition [page 3] is deplorable. When winter feeding has again to be resorted to, especially in the present state of the herds, the milk supply in bound to suffer still further reduction. Even should a plentiful supply of foodstuffs be imported, or otherwise be made available, as, for instance, by the importation of wheat, to enable a lower milling percentage of grain, it is difficult to see how Germany can avoid a milk famine which will endanger the lives of children and mothers to an extent we hardly dare contemplate." The White Paper further points out that in the present state of Germany's credit the purchase of the enormous quantities of food that are in any case necessary, "is quite impossible" (page 13). The "plentiful supply" of foodstuffs above referred to is therefore not likely to be obtained, and the loss of life which is in any case regarded as inevitable will in this event be even more terrible. In another part of the White Paper, Professor Starling writes that "one of the most pressing needs, if the younger generation is to be saved for future work and production, is to increase the present inadequate supply of milk in the great towns and industrial regions" (page 14).

In view of the conditions therefore which already prevail among the children of Germany, we cannot but view with grave apprehension, and even horror, the consequences which must follow from any further reduction in the milk supply -- consequences [page 4] which we cannot suppose that those who framed the Treaty either contemplated or desired. It must be the universal desire of the civilized world to prevent any unnecessary extension of the infant death-toll which has already resulted from the war, and to avoid the terrible increase of bitterness and of unrest that would inevitably accompany it. The probable loss of infant life, resultant on the immediate cession of 140,000 [milk] cows, and the further curtailment of the milk supply thereby involved, has been estimated at 600,000 lives. We have consulted Profess Starling on this point and have his authority for it that for every litre of milk per day lost a baby will die. It will be seen by comparing the statistics in the White Paper as to the yield of milk per cow and the daily portion distributed, that this estimate of 600,000 is if anything too low. The danger is, moreover, enhanced by the cession by Germany, under another article of the Treaty, of territory from which she drew 21% of her milk supply but which contained a smaller proportion of her population.

It may of course be urged that Germany will be given the opportunity to purchase condensed or evaporated milk to make good the deficiency. Apart from the fact that the continued use of condensed milk promotes the evil of rickets, we cannot overlook the fact that the present deplorable state of transport in Germany renders the regular distribution of [page 5] imported good extremely difficult. We must also lay the utmost emphasis on the financial difficulty, to which Professor Starling refers as follows (page 13); -- The "removal of blockade and freedom to Germany to import or export.....does not solve the question. In the present state of her credit the purchase of such enormous quantities" (of essential foodstuffs to meet the minimum needs of the people) "is quite impossible. Even if Germany could buy it for marks at their present value, the food would be so expensive that it would be beyond the reach of the majority of the population." The American and English food hitherto imported "is beyond the reach of those classes of the population which stand most in need of them." Mr. McDougall (page 22) similarly alludes to "the disastrous state of Germany's finances and her mark being at such a low level. If foodstuffs have to be imported then the cost of such imports delivered in Germany will be prohibitive." These considerations apply to the import of condensed milk as to any other article of food. We may point out that a baby of seven months consumes four fourteen-ounce tins of condensed milk per week. The needs of the 600,000 babies likely to be affected would necessitate the import of milk at the rate of between 300,000 and 600,000 tins per day, or between nine and eighteen million tins per month.

We venture therefore to press upon the attention of [page 6] the Reparation Commission the concluding paragraph of the statement by Mr. McDougall (page 22 of the White Paper): "The shortage of milk has already told heavily on the children, as shown by the great increase in mortality, deformity and sickness, and the parents are already driven to distraction in their efforts to provide food which will keep life in the bodies of their children. The officials of the German Government....are prepared to pay for cows if they can be secured in any part of the world....and this appears to be a reasonable solution, since it precludes still further reduction of a milk supply already insufficient for the children's needs." We have ascertained that Professor Starling likewise strongly supports this solution. As evidence of its feasibility it may be added that some 60,000 [milk] cows, specially selected in America, are being at the present time exported to France.

In any case we beg most earnestly that the cession of these cows may be postponed.

Your obedient servant, [page 7]

Signatories to the Memorial: --

Sir Thomas Barlow, Bart., K.C.V.O., F.R.S., F.R.C.P., M.D., etc.,
(Physician-Extraordinary to H.M. the King),

Right Hon. Earl Beauchamp, K.C.M.G.,
(Lord President of the Council, 1914),

The Duchess of Bedford

Sir Hugh Bell, Bart., D.L., D.C.L., LL.D.,

Sir Alfred Allen Booth, Bart.,
(Chairman Cunard Steamship Co., Ltd., etc.),

His Eminence Cardinal Francis Bourne
(Archbishop of Westminster),

Lord Burnham,

Most Rev. Randall Thomas Davidson, D.D. D.C.L., LL.D., etc.,
(Archbishop of Canterbury)

Earl of Cavan, K.C.B., M.V.O., etc.,
(Commander, Legion of Honor)

Right Hon. Lord Robert Cecil, K.C., M.P.,
(Late Minister of Blockade),

Rev. John Clifford, M.A., D.D.,
(Late President Baptist World Alliance),

Right Hon. J. R. Clynes, M.P.,
(Food Controller, 1918),

Hon. Mrs. Louise Creighton,

Right Hon. Marquess of Crewe, K.C.,
(Late Secretary of State for Colonies, and for India),

Sir James Crichton-Browne, M.R.C.S, M.D., F.R.S.F., LL.D., etc.,
(Vice-President and Treasurer Royal Institution),

Most Rev. Cosmo Gordon Lang, D.D., D.C.L., LL.D., D.Litt., etc.,
(Archbishop of York),

Sir Alfred Pearce Gould, K.C.V.O., F.R.C.S., etc.,
(Late Vice-Chancellor of University of London), [page 8]

Right Hon. Arthur Henderson, M.P.,
(Late member of War Cabinet),

Very Rev. J. H. Hertz, Ph.D., (Chief Rabbi)

Right Hon. Marquess of Lansdome, K.G.,
(Member of Cabinet 1895/1900 - 1900/1905 and 1915/16),

Right Hon. Sir Donald Maclean, P.C., M.P.,

Right Hon. Viscount Morley of Blackburn, O.M., F.R.S., LL.D., etc.,
(Secretary of State for India 1905/10),

Sir William Osler, Bart., M.D., F.R.S., F.R.C.P.,
(Regius Professor of Medicine, Oxford)

Right Hon. Sir Horace Plunkett, D.L., F.R.S., K.C.V.O., etc.,

Right Hon. Earl of Selborne, G.C.M.G., etc.,
(First Lord of Admiralty, 1900/05),

Right Rev. Ed. Stuart Talbot, D.D.,
(Bishop of Winchester).