WE CONTINUE THE C.R.B. IN THE NORTH OF FRANCE
Gibson, Poland, and I returned to Paris from Belgium on November 30, 1918, and at once took up Relief matters with the French Minister of Agriculture, Victor Boret, his Food Administrator, Ernest Vilgrain, and the Minister of Blockade, A. Lebrun.
Since Vilgrain had a functioning organization which was looking after 93 or 94 per cent of the French people, we proposed that he stretch it to include the 6 or 7 per cent of the people then remaining in the North of France and that we should retire within a month.
The French presented many arguments on why the C.R.B. must continue. The whole political organization above the commune level, except in a few cities, had been destroyed, and the only co-ordinated organization existing was the C.R.B. and the remainders of our old French Committees. A further argument cited to us was that two million refugees would be returning home from Belgium or from German prison camps, along with deported French workmen.
The railways and canals north of the old Hindenburg Line had been destroyed by the Germans in their retreat, and supplies would have to reach the North of France via Belgian railways and canals. It was apparent that the French Government could not handle this situation for some months.
We finally agreed to go on but stipulated that the French should furnish us with the necessary wheat and other cereals from their stocks in the South of France and transport them to Antwerp and Dunkirk. We stipulated that the French Government should supply us with exchange to pay our European outlays for both Belgium and