February 20, 2012 "War Is A Crime" -- A little known aspect of World War II history is that immediately after the end of major hostilities, as Europe lay in ruins, millions of Germans in Ally-occupied Germany and people in other Axis nations descended into a spiral of humanitarian crisis, and faced the specter of mass starvation as Allies bickered over the spoils of war. After a particularly harsh winter in 1946 - 1947, Assistant Secretary of State William Clayton reported to Washington that "millions of people are slowly starving." With the infrastructure ruined, and with a shortage of coal, many Germans froze to death.
Finally President Harry Truman was persuaded by General George Marshall to implement the Marshall Plan, by which million of tons in assistance was delivered to populations by the Allies. Marshall warned that "The patient is sinking while the doctors deliberate." Truman understood that there would be no more fertile ground for left-leaning ideologies to take hold than in populations which were cold, hungry, and hopeless. In 1949, at the Fourth Geneva Convention, the responsibilities of an "occupying power" were recognized as a part of international law, to remain in effect as long as the occupier was the true and final authority in the client country, regardless of the nominal existence of a new, indigenous national government.
Article 55 of the Geneva Conventions states:
"To the fullest extent of the means available to it, the Occupying Power has the duty of ensuring the food and medical supplies of the population; it should, in particular, bring in the necessary foodstuffs, medical stores and other articles if the resources of the occupied territory are inadequate...."
"If the whole or part of the population of an occupied territory is inadequately supplied, the Occupying Power shall agree to relief schemes on behalf of the said population, and shall facilitate them by all the means at its disposal. Such schemes, which may be undertaken either by States or by impartial humanitarian organizations such as the International Committee of the Red Cross, shall consist, in particular, of the provision of consignments of foodstuffs, medical supplies and clothing."
And Article 60 insured that even if civilian relief efforts are underway:
"Relief consignments shall in no way relieve the Occupying Power of any of its responsibilities under Articles 55, 56 and 59."