FINANCING THE RELIEF OF NORTHERN FRANCE
The local manpower in the North of France had been mobilized prior to the invasion, and many civilians had fled before the advancing German armies. The population had decreased to about two and one-half million, most of them women, children, and old men.
This area normally produced a larger proportion of its own food than did Belgium, but with the destruction of many farms, the loss of manpower, the pre-invasion mobilization of work animals, the removal of many animals by refugees, and the lack of fertilizers, food production slumped, despite heroic effort by the women, children, and the aged. The immediate situation in the towns was rendered acute by the havoc of battle and the seizure of the harvest and many animals by the invading Germans. Quickly the wolves gathered at every door.
The C.R.B. had no funds for the support of the Northern French, but at my direction we furnished some supplies out of our own meager resources of charity for Belgium to the most critical area, where people were dying. But this arrangement could not continue for long without starving the Belgians.
The peril of the French was underscored in a letter to me from Ambassador Gerard transmitting information from the American Consul in Roubaix: