Remembering Herbert Hoover
(Dirk Van Assche) The Low Countries - 2007, № 15, pp. 272-274
The outbreak of the First World War in August 1914 marked the beginning of difficult times for the majority of the Belgian population. Seven million Belgians were threatened with starvation. A handful of politicians and business people tried to do something about the situation. A committee began negotiations with the German and British governments to make it possible for grain to be imported into occupied Belgium. Thanks to the diplomatic support of America and Spain, two neutral states, these discussions could only lead to a favourable outcome. In London the Belgians who had come to plead the cause had a conversation with the American businessman Herbert Hoover. Hoover was prepared to take on the management of a newly established organisation , the Commission for Relief in Belgium (CRB). It was the responsibility of this organisation to centralise the funds that had been raised in Belgium and abroad for the provisioning of the country. In an astonishingly short time Hoover made the American people aware of the problem in Belgium. He succeeded in making Belgium a national problem for America.
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