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tv   Herbert Hoover the Humanitarian  CSPAN  December 12, 2016 12:01am-1:20am EST

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fiber infrastructure to do all that. ont watch the communicators c-span2 on monday night. >> next, historian george nash talks about herbert hoover's humanitarian efforts during world war i and world war ii. he was known as the great humanitarian for his work on international relief effort. the world war i museum and memorial posted this one hour and 10 minutes event. >> good evening ladies and gentlemen. i am the ceo of the world war i museum and memorial. we are delighted to welcome you. since one of the many public programs that we have and we are so pleased that you have taken time out on this warm summer day and evening to engage in what is going to be i think a forthright and a deeply engaging
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conversation. we are grateful to c-span for broadcasting this evening. and for their support in taking what is a critical topic as part of the commemorative activities of world war i and to public. it seems to me that the experience of the american response to world war i represents something of the very essence of the american experiment. who could not argue that the core values of america were expressed by the belgian relief efforts during world war i? they said they had been organized by hoover for the commission of release of belgium. grassroots to response of national crisis in belgium and
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france. starvation due to the ravages of war. it seems to me that it is expressive of so many of the core values that seem to claim us as we think about this american experiment. through the efforts of hoover and the commission, of the 9 million people, each day were fed in belgium and north france. the opportunity to discuss contemporary parallels as it relates to need certainly are tempting. the impact of herbert hoover has been felt throughout the globe. i was delighted that dr. nash relayed the history of hoover to me earlier and spending time in australia. so there you go. maybe his roots are not just
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about american values. tonight, we are especially grateful and welcoming some of the foremost experts. he has given thought to herbert -- the work of herbert hoover. george nash received his degree at harvard in 1975. his published -- he is published widely. there is a biography under the general title" the life of herbert hoover" freedom betrayed herbert hoover's secret history.
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any crusade years, his lost memoir of a new deal era and its aftermath. from 87 to 95, presidential appointment, he served on it national commission of libraries. he served in many esteemed organizations and colleges throughout the world. he has received the richard weaver prize of scholarly letters and is written also in publications such as the neo-book review, the national review, the wall street journal and many others. lectured at the library of congress, the national archives, ever presidential libraries and on c-span.
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and in 2007 and 2006 he delivered the herbert hoover related lectures in brussels. he was featured in the documentary films landslide and the great famine. that was televised nationally on pbs in 2009 and 2011 respectively. there is no doubting that we have someone in our midst who has a deep understanding and i am proud and partnership with the national archives of kansas city lucky new to this presentation titled uber hoover -- herbert hoover: the great humanitarian. please welcome to the stage dr. george nash. [applause] dr. nash: thank you for that very gracious introduction. it is a pleasure and indeed an honor to be deep guest this evening of the national world war i museum and the moral
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introduction with the national archives. i want to thank you, holly ides, and haley sheriff for all of the courtesies you have extended to make here in kansas city. it is a pleasure to be in this room at this time. in the summer of 2014, the nations of europe north america, australia and new zealand and mark the centenary of the first world war. the commemoration so far has largely been a suburb one.
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haunted by memories of soldiers subsisting and money treasures -- muddy trenches. battle sites for the dumb and the sum. they have been scenes of poignant ceremonies and prayer. there was another dimension of the great war as it was then called that should not be overlooked. for out of it, something positive and transformative came. that is at its center, a man who was the subject of my remarks this evening. on august 10, 1914, herbert hoover turned 40 years old. a highly since excel -- successful mining engineer. yet been planning for several years to return home to california. where he hoped to enter what he called the big game of public service. this orphaned son of quaker pioneers had come far from his humble again is in a tiny beginning in the state of iowa. rising rapidly in his chosen
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profession of money engineering after graduating from stanford university, he controlled in part or directed a worldwide array of money enterprises that employ hundreds of men. having achieved his early ambition of earning a fortune by the age of 40, he told a friend that just making money is not enough. he wanted to do something more. his opportunity arose and circumstances he could not have imagined. just a few days before his 40th birthday, most of europe plunged into the greatest armed conflict and 100 years. on august 4, as great britain
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declared war on imperial germany, he wrote to a friend if my judgment of the situation is right, we are on the verge of seven years of considerable vibration. >> the american engineer was more prophetic than he knew. private nation did indeed in gulf much of the world. the struggle against it became the arching theme of his life during that. not personal private should of course. he remained financially independent. nor was the larger struggle one that you have been obligated to confront. he could have avoided it if you wanted to. and, by virtue of his strategic place and international money ventures, that have profited immensely from a warring world's misfortune. instead, by a combination of duty, desire to serve and sheer
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love of accomplishment, over concentrated himself to a mission. between 1914 and 1921, coping with revolution and hunger. he absorbed his superabundant energies. in the chaotic early weeks of the fighting, hoover and other leading americans resident in london organized emergency relief assistance for more than 100,000 american travelers, playing the continent of europe for london and safe passage home. over's of efficient leadership of this effort impressed the american ambassador to great britain.
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he, along with others soon tapped hoover for a far greater visit -- mission. in the summer of 1914, and in dating german army overran the small, neutral nation of belgium. dependent upon imported food -- imported food for most of its consumption. it was trapped between a occupier and the british naval blockade of the enemy. the belgium-based starvation unless sustenance to somehow be obtained on the outside world. with the approval of ambassador page, and the acquiescence of the warring british and german governments, over established on october 20, 1914, a neutral, benevolent entity called the commission for relief in elgin. he transported into belgium, who for the belgium populace which was beleaguered. initially, no one anticipated that this humanitarian mission would last more than a few
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months. the kaiser of germany famously predicted that the war would be over by christmas. instead, it generated into a gruesome stalemate on the western front. over's emergency relief for taking turned into an elaborate enterprise without precedent in history. an organized rescue of an entire nation of starvation. within a few months, over and his team of mostly american volunteers built the crv into a remarkable organization. it was called a piratical state organized for benevolence. it had its own flag, its own
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fleet. it negotiated treaties with the war european powers. its leader, hoover enjoyed formal diplomatic immunity and traveled freely through enemy lines. the only american citizen permitted to do so or the entire war. the tasks for relief in belgium were daunting. first, it had to raise money throughout the world. initially through charitable appeals. but as the war went on, subsidies from the french, british and u.s. governments came along. with this money it had to purchase wheat from north america, south america and
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australia. that it had to shift to these foodstuffs to belgium. went -- when it shifted to the european war zone, they were required to navigate carefully lest they be seized by the british navy or subjected to german submarine attack. when the food reached the neutral support of rotterdam, their cargo had to be unloaded for conveyance by canal into isolated belgium. once inside the occupied country, the supplies had to be prepared for human consumption. in mills, dairies, bakeries. then the food had to be distributed equitably to a desperate population of more than 7 million women and children. scattered over 2500 villages, cities and towns. as part of it possible to
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faceted work, it needed to verify that the daily food allotment reached their intended recipients. not the german army of occupation. they had pledged not to steal or interfere. working with herbert hoover and his staff were 10,000 elgin -- belgian volunteers. they were known as the national committee of care and feeding. it has some of the country's most prominent business leaders. they were under german occupation. they did not have the freedom to
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exercise surveillance and control the flow as the neutral americans did. one object of special solicitude was young people. it was our task and the belgians to maintain the laughter of the children, not to dry away their tears. the challenge was impressively met by early 1917. three quarters of belgium children were receiving daily hot lunches specifically for that purpose. as in all this were not enough, in early 1915, over's organization was permitted to extend it's life-sustaining operations to more than 2 million french civilians living behind the german lines on the western front. between 1914 and the cessation of its work in the summer of 1919, the crv delivered nearly 5 million metric tons of supplies to more than 9 million civilians inside of belgium and german
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occupied northern france. in doing so, it expanded more than 12 billion today. because of these exertions, hoover, working voluntarily and without pay became an international hero. the embodiment of a new force in global politics. in 1916, the british foreign office described him as the advanced guard and symbol of the sense of responsibility for the american people toward europe. that same year, brown university and the united states awarded hoover it's -- his first honorary degree. for hoover, the belgian relief effort turned out to be his first great act in an extraordinary career on the public stage. when the united states entered
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the war, in april of 1917, he left day-to-day supervision of the crv to subordinates and returned to america. in short order, he was appointed head of the u.s. food administration. a special, wartime agency created at the request of woodrow wilson to stimulate a --
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american food production. food will win the war became his slogan. by 1918, the united states under its food controller guidance and become a cornucopia upon which the beleaguered british, french and italians could draw with increasing confidence. just five days after the armistice in 1918, resident wilson -- president wilson dispatched him to a continent careening toward disaster. by now, little belgium was not the only nation at risk. in the months following the end of world war i, mn, disease and bloody revolution swept across such of europe. it threw us under a civilization
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already traumatized by the war to end all wars. american and allied leaders struggle to draft a peace treaty in paris, hoover as director of the general belief and chairman of the relief administration organized the first version food to hungry people and helped to quell the danger of communist revolutions in central europe. the task that hoover and his associates performed, many of them loaned to him from the u.s. army of occupation was most simple in the process of handing the food to the needy. many of the needy nations he had served and only rudimentary government machinery. some were brand-new countries
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like yugoslavia and czechoslovakia. the transportation systems have broken down. every frontier was a barrier of suspicion. ethnic tensions and separatist impulses abounded. the american led relief programs also entailed much more than keeping a step ahead of famine. economic recovery and increased productivity were crucial if
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europe was to find up its wounds. many of hoover's policies and 1919 designed to achieve this objective. he arranged for hundreds of american engineers and other experts to become technical advisors to the fledgling governments. of austria, poland and czechoslovakia and yugoslavia. they worked to reorganize railways, create efficient transportation networks, reform currencies and modernize agriculture. hoover also helped to reopen the vital river basin to commerce. he dispatched american agents to silesia and other mining regions. they helped to settle strikes and increase urgently needed production of coal. with the signing of the treaty of versailles in the summer of 1919, hoover's relief and reconstruction efforts entered a new phase. the american relief administration was reconstituted as a nongovernmental organization. with hoover himself at the helm. it became part of a growing empire of philanthropy that he and his associates developed to cope with the great war's aftermath at home and abroad. the ara's european children's fund for example concentrated on providing daily meals to an estimated 3 million children in eastern and central europe in the early 1920's. undoubtedly, the most extraordinary postwar
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undertaking occurred in soviet russia. more than two years after the great war officially ended. there from 1921 to 1923 in response to a f ta plea from rn communist dictatorship for outside assistance, the ara organized an american relief program to combat a devastating famine in the boulder river region. the worst famine in middle europe in the middle ages. 5 million russians died before the supplies can reach them but million moores -- millions more survived. at the peak, the organization fed upwards of 10 million people a day. and possibly 20 million in all
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during its two years of operation. all in all, between 1914 and 1923, hoover directed, financed or assisted a multitude of international humanitarian relief efforts without parallel in history. during this nearly tenure. , the crv, the u.s. food administration, the ara and other various governments and private organizations deliver nearly 34 million metric tons of food. that was to the lands and people imperiled by world war i and its aftermath. the monetary value of this sustenance valued in today's currency exceeded 60 ilion dollars. for most of this undertaking, the man with this responsibility was hoover. no one knows exactly how many people owed their lives to his
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exertions. we do know this, between 1914 and 1923, literally tens of millions of men, women and children in more than 20 nations received food allotment for which hoover and his associates were at least partly responsible. tens of millions of people, it is a staggering figure. but whatever the precise number, hoover's standing in the annals of organized humanitarianism is beyond dispute. as someone remarked a number of years ago, herbert hoover was responsible for saving more lives than any other person in history. what did this son of and i will blacksmith defeat what he called the greatest famine of all times? did he earn his epithet, the great humanitarian and the
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master of emergencies, he labeled it the slippery road of public life. a path that led him to the president of the united states in 1920. experiences of this magnitude cannot fail to have impact on the human beings caught up in them. such was the case with hoover. for all of the satisfactions of public service as a humanitarian, there was a price that he had to pay. time and again, between 19 14 and 1920, hoover and his wife underwent the pangs of war induced separation. both from each other and from their two young sons. during one stretch, early in the war, he did not see his sons for nearly a year. they were back in california, going to school. away from the was an obviously. the emotional strain of the work
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manifested itself most notably in what he experienced on or near the european battlefields. on december 1, 1914, he visited a canteen in brussels. some of the city's destitute judo for their daily ration. they watched hundreds of the poor standing, uncomplaining late in the rain. shivering, grasping bowls, pictures and precious little cards that would guarantee them a meal. upon receiving his or her allotment, each would pause, bow and utter the single word,
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"merci." hoover of verdict his gaze and silently stared into the distance. after this traumatic experience, hoover rarely measured near a belgian breadline again. according to luke, her husband could not visit one unless literally compelled to. he would have his eyes near full of tears before he leaves. the pay off of the long line of expected, chattering mites, belgian children with a ticket of authority and to the chest or held in its grimy fest was for this orphaned island too much to bear. nor could hoover forget the glances he saw of the battle of the sum. from behind german lies in northern france and the summer of 19 16 when he was visiting
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that region as a part of his relief work. it was a scene that haunted his memories. i quote him now. "we motive for several hours to a point near a hilltop observation in the forest. a distance back from the forward trenches and a mile or two away from the main roads. during the last few miles, and occasional shell crashed nearby. the ingenious camouflaged of the road to the extent of a false parallel seems to give protection to our brute. the constant rumble of artillery seemed to pulverize the air. seen through powerful glasses in the distant view was the
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unending blur of trenches. a volcanic explosion of dust. it filled the air for over a length of 60 miles, a million and a half men were fighting and dying." once in a while, like ants, the lines of men seem to show through the clouds of dust, here, under the thunder and belching volcanoes of 10,000 guns, over the months of this battle, the lives of germans and englishmen were thrown away. on a nearby road, on ending lines of germans plotted along the side of the road, with the silence of solemn resignation. down the left side came the on ending lines of wounded men, the walking cases staggering among cavalcade's of ambulances. a quarter of a million died and it was but one battle in that war. so core of it all did not in the least affect the german officers in the post.
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to them, it was pure mechanics. not one of the germans show the slightest anxiety. they said that the british were losing to-one, budding their heads against the stone wall. a that was true, it was all a horrible, devastating reality. no romance and no glory." above all, perhaps, hoover did not forget what he witnessed in poland in august 1919. shortly before his planned return to the united states from paris, the head of the american relief administration decided to visit several central european countries that have benefited prodigiously from his humanitarian aid. when the polish government learned his intentions, it decided to honor him with what was called a children's festival.
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for 2.5 hours, tens of thousands of polish children paraded before hoover at a racecourse near warsaw. the sound was definitely -- deafening as the children cheered. a group of them captured a rabbit and bore it triumphantly to their benefactor. in the words of one witness, hoover unabashedly wept. with moments like these two c are -- to sear one's soul, the past five years probably seem triviality -- seem a triviality by comparison. how many of those children would be alive to parade in his honor had hoover not done anything to
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feed them? on september 13, 1919, the humanitarian hero returned at last to america's shores you would despite his phenomenal a congressman in the preceding 10 months, he was not contented. every day at the peace conference in paris, he had witnessed a depressing display of national rivalry, vengeful miss and greed -- vengefulness and greed. he had seen those who would try to create a new social order on the principles of marxism. principally, he had seen america in contrast. hoover returned to his native land with two dominant convictions. the first was that the ideology of socialism as tested before him in europe was a catastrophic failure, unable to motivate men
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and women to produce sufficient goods for the needs of society. hoover's second conviction was also firmly held. more than ever before, he recalled the enormous distance america had drifted from europe in its 150 years of nationhood. he said this was reflected in our outlook on life, our relations to our neighbors and our social and political ideals. coming back to america from europe, he sensed that his own country was a vulnerable to the afflictions he had witnessed abroad. he implored his fellow citizens not to turn their country into "a laboratory for experiment in a foreign social diseases." in numerous speeches and
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articles in 1919 and 1920, he began to define the american alternative. the distinctive american social philosophy was the principle of equality and opportunity. the idea that no one should be handicapped in securing that particular niche in the community to which his abilities and character entitle them. unlike europe, where oppressive class barriers had generated misery and discontent, the american social system, he said, was based on negation of class. a society, he said, in which there was a constant flux of individuals in the community upon the basis of ability and character, is a moving, the row -- virile mass. in the months and years to come,
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hoover attempted to distill from his experiences abroad a coherent understanding of the american experiment he cherished. one result was a little volume called "american individualism," which he published in 1922. another was political philosophy entitled "the challenge to liberty" in 1934. more than most potent -- american presidents and political figures, hoover seemed driven to solidify and systematize his political beliefs. one compunction was the raw, turbulent experience of war and hunger from -- with which he grappled from 1914 until the early 1920's. it disturbed not only his home life but the furniture of his mind.
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in 1919 and 1920, hoover's estrangement from europe was not so deep as to preclude american involvement in european affairs. he favored the american ratifying of the treaty of versailles, joining the league of nations. he said it was a necessary step to restoring shattered europe to stability. as the years pass, hoover's estrangement from europe gradually intensified. the new world he came to believe, was remote from the imperialism, fanatic ideologies, age-old hates, racial antipathies, power politics and class stratification of europe. what he had witnessed in 1919, he concluded, was something far more profound than what he called "the intrigues of
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diplomacy." it was, he said, the collision of civilizations that had grown 300 years apart. looking at the chasm he perceived between the old world and the new, he became an eloquent exponent of what we today call american exceptionalism. when hoover arrived back in america in september 1919, he bluntly told a reporter that he did not care to see europe again. but less than a generation later, the bloody quarrels and humanitarian tragedies of the old world beckoned him back. when world war ii broke out in 1939, hoover organized private relief agencies in the united states to raise money and final assistance to the distressed
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civilian populations of war ravaged poland and finland. many of the men who assisted him had been his colleagues in relief work 20 years before. in 1940 and 1941, as the war in europe expanded, he attended -- attempted to replicate his world war i success in belgium by creating a new relief commission, this time for the imperiled civilians of small european democracies overrun by nazi germany. fearing that humanitarian intervention behind enemy lines would benefit germany, winston churchill locked his efforts. he was compelled to spend most of world war ii on the sidelines, without governmental responsibility, and during what
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he called "four years of frustration." yet hoover's humanitarian reputation and expertise were not entirely ignored. shortly after world war ii ended, he was a catalyst for the creation of the united nations international children's emergency fund, unicef. one of his associates in the cr be in world war i, became unicef's first executive director. he later declared that he was hoover who originally had the idea of setting up the fund in the framework of the united nations. thanks in considerable measure to hoover's measure and persistence, a nether -- another
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means to sucker the innocent was born. as countless millions of people in europe faced what hoover called the greatest famine in all history, the aging humanitarian traveled around the world to 38 countries on a arduous famine relief food survey taken at the request of truman. hoover's meticulous fact-finding and high-profile consultation with world leaders on those trips helped to expedite the shipment of surplus food to suffering a nations, thereby helping to avert mass starvation. nor did the great humanitarians solicitude for the victims of war and revolution diminish as he grew older. in 1956 at the age of 82, he sponsored an organization that assisted refugees from the recent hungarian uprising against that country's soviet overlords.
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nothing touched hoover more deeply than the travails of world war i, that he had done so much to alleviate. get in the final years of his life, his thoughts turned increasingly to that tumultuous. -- tumultuous period in his career. in 1938, he published a book called "the ordeal of woodrow wilson," an account of wilson's diplomatic struggles in paris and hoover's concurrent battles as a relief administrator. that same year, at eisenhower's invitation, hoover represented the united states at the brussels world fair. there, the people of belgium honored the man who had saved so many of their lives during the ordeal of 1914-1918.
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he reflected on the crb's historical significance. it brought -- it pioneered the methods of relief a great famines and developed a system for maintenance and rehabilitation of children during war and upheavals. between 1959 and 1964, as hoover neared the age of 90, he published a four volume history of the stupendous american led enterprises and compassion, as he called them, that had brought food relief to scores of millions of people after world war i and world war ii. he entitled this narrative "an american epic." he wanted the american people to know the full, magnificent truth about their great humanitarian achievements in the 20th century.
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it was a story, he feared, that was being lost to history. 100 years after world war i, it sometimes feels that his fear has been realized. few americans today have more than a hazy awareness of the first world war am a letter known of hoover's american epic -- let alone of hoover's american epic. in many recent histories of the war, hoover and his myriad relief enterprises are barely mentioned, if at all. in part, this lacuna is due to the tendency of historians to focus on the battles and tangled statecraft, not on individuals him like hoover who attempted to ease the suffering of helpless noncombatants.
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moreover, the coming in 1939 of a second and even more horrific world war in which hoover's humanitarian comeback was largely supported -- thwarted has attenuated memory of the early conflict. but if time and the conventions of academic historiography have dimmed our consciousness of the humanitarian response to the great war, the centennial of the wars outbreak brings an opportunity for reminders. the effort in belgium was more than a minor episode in the conflict. it was a pioneering effort in global philanthropy. hoover and his team were not alone.
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thousands of other american civilians journeyed to europe during the war on voluntary emissions of mercy, as ambulance drivers, as nurses and surgeons, as members and leaders of organizations the american field service, the salvation army and the red cross. their devotion and achievements are fittingly memorialized in the exhibit called "the volunteers," now on display right here at the national world war i museum and memorial. but i think percy of the british foreign office was essentially correct in saying that hoover more than any other came the advanced guard and symbol of this awakening.
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hoover's relief organizations and endeavors between 1914 and 1923 were the forerunners of the vast network of transnational, nongovernmental benevolent organizations with which we are familiar today. groups like save the children, doctors without borders and world vision. a century after the war to end all wars, the world has grown accustomed to efforts to save civilian lives in the midst of armed strife and social upheaval. a civil war in syria, a typhoon in the philippines, a famine in somalia. in the aftermath or even in the midst of such disasters, humanitarian experts and assistance often led by americans will be there. one reason for this expectation, one reason for its acceptance, is the pioneering president crated over 100 years ago -- created over 100 years ago by
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hoover and his fellow volunteers. hoover's response to emergency in 1914 and the ensuing years of preparation not only saved billions of lives, his example and that of his institutions also made a constructive and enduring mark upon the western world. amid the horrors of 1914-1918, there emerged a profound and determined impulse cultivated by hoover and others to mitigate suffering and heal the wounds of war. this impulse did not abate when the guns fell silent. some years ago, a historian declared that the first world war was the worst single catastrophe in human history. in the next few years, here in kansas city and elsewhere, we
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will have many more occasions to ponder its appalling costs and consequences. but let us also remember the remarkable humanitarian ventures initiated and sustained by hoover hoover -- herbert hoover and others who followed him, beginning in 1914 and continuing thereafter. here is one legacy of the great war that can comfort and inspire. thank you. [applause] mr. nash: i understand that there might be time for questions. i think someone from the staff was going to call on people, or would you prefer me to do it?
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i can do either way. is that a question? >> in your remarks, you laid out a blueprint of what a humanitarian can do during times of crisis, world war i. the blueprint looks to me as if george marshall and the marshall plan should have taken note of it. is there evidence that the marshall plan ever, or the people who worked on it, ever referred back to hoover, how he accomplished these things, how he went about? the focus is different, but the results and the attempts are pretty much the same. mr. nash: that is a good question.
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i have not seen much evidence of that. i do know of a historian who was studying a collective group of people who worked as volunteers with hoover, and some of them went on to careers, and i think his view is that you can probably find some distant connection, some awareness. you have to remember that when hoover was living through world war ii, his great rival was franklin roosevelt, and hoover was not given a role. president truman behaved differently toward hoover and hoover was very grateful that he was given an opportunity to be influential again. hoover did those missions. he did not administer relief but he did important work for truman and surveying the need and getting different countries to ship food to the proper region to meet the need. hoover had some misgivings about the marshall plan, but he publicly endorsed it. i think his concern, as i
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understand it, was that it seemed to him to open-ended. that the europeans might take the aid and become dependents of the united states. he always emphasized in this kind of humanitarian work that people organize themselves. for example, in russia, i think the russians would have liked for him to state later, but he said no, the russians can feed themselves. he would not make himself a permanent fixture of the scene. he believed recipient nations should do whatever they could. the belgians i think he was impressed by because every time he was there, the communities work together. it was a divided country politically between the socialist, the liberals and the catholic parties, and every committee had representation of each party so that no one could accuse an action of favoring its
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own, and he made that a strong principle in his administration of russian relief. but he did not want it to become something that always lasted once the crisis was over. then the countries should be back on their own. i think his worry about the marshall plan was that it might turn into a perpetual foreign aid program and that the europeans would not do enough to build themselves a backup, he did publicly supported. i don't see myself a lot of evidence that marshall people were thinking about hoover and world war i as they made their plan, but there may have been individuals who had that earlier experience and applied it to the
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formulation of the marshall mission. i think another person is approaching. >> please feel free to come down to either microphone. >> thank you. i am fascinated by the international implications of what you say, and my question turns to herbert hoover and his impact in the united states of america. i'm thinking about the great mississippi flood of 19.7, i think i've gotten my years right -- flood of 1927, i think after my years right. would you tell me something about his humanitarian organization and philosophy, and how they impacted domestically? mr. nash: as hoover salt europe,
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much of it was after the war, it was chaos. new countries being formed and civil wars and the american people he came and had great prestige because they represented hoover and hoover meant food. he was able to have the americans do a lot for europe. as he perceived america, he thought america had built into it, thanks to what he called opportunity and social mobility and neighborly will -- neighborliness, built into the american experience was a community experience, and he saw that through community chest and the red cross and other entities. he tended to rely on those organizations existing, networks of philanthropy and volunteerism. he saw the volunteer spirit as part of the american heritage, so in 1927 when the mississippi river flooded which was the greatest natural disaster in
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american history at that time, at least 600,000 people were displaced from their homes in arkansas, louisiana and the lower south. calvin coolidge set up a government committee to work with the red cross. hoover was on that committee, and hoover became head of the efforts. for several months, hoover, who was secretary of commerce under calvin coolidge, he organized that relief effort for the mississippi river. he went down there and organized committees, works with the red cross, and he saw this as an example of americans helping themselves. he went on national radio, as did present coolidge, and millions of dollars were brought in. it was an impressive response from the public for providing short-term aid and assistance. it had the effect of refurbishing hoover's humanitarian credentials at an opportune time politically, because as you know, there was another big event in 1927.
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in august, calvin coolidge chose not to run for president in 1920 eight, so suddenly the path to the white house was open to hoover and others. he would not have challenged coolidge. now here is this humanitarian hero, this master of emergencies, performing very useful service. inmate him a hero in the south, made him a national hero, and it reminded people that he was an efficiency expert, and it reminded them of the humanitarian work that had made him famous in europe. he was organizing americans to help themselves, raising money through private funds, getting businessmen to serve voluntarily without pay and do the necessary assistance at the grassroots. this may hoover a formidable figure for the presidential nomination, and a silent movie was made about his humanitarian
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work in 1928 called "hoover, master of emergencies." it is on youtube if you want to watch it. the -- he carried some of the southern states in 1928 harley for the relief, partly for other reasons due to prohibition and so on, but that was an important part for him. it was important to him that america had the sole -- it's soul, and the ability to help itself. what comes next? the great depression. hoover organized community assistance. i think it was in 1931, he orchestrated a national campaign that raise about 100 million
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dollars, a huge amount of money in those days, the entire federal budget was only $4 billion. voluntary contributions to replenish all of the relief agencies who were trying to deal with the unemployed and other forms of private asian as the depression worsened. the challenge was that the need was so great that ultimately hoover agreed, probably too late for his own political benefit in the summer of 1932, to allow the government to loan money to the states, which could then spread the relief. that was an important bridge point to the new deal.
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