European Technical Advisers records
The European Technical Advisers was a private American advisory organization created in the spring and summer of 1919 by Herbert Hoover, head of the American Relief Administration, in response to concerns that post-peace treaty demobilization of the Central European network of military advisers would leave a serious vacuum in the coordination of highly-complicated economic and technical functions. Technological novelty, governmental disorganization and international antagonisms, as well as wartime disruption of industrial infrastructures, were major problems threatening the rapid re-establishment of economic stability in the area.
Mr. Hoover suggested the establishment of a consulting organization in each country, supported by the funds of the respective governments (usually taken from reparations remittances). The technical advisers were agents of the countries in which they worked; however, their efforts were supported by offices in New York and Paris, staffed by American Relief Administration (A.R.A.) personnel, and supervised by a Board of Trustees. Mr. Hoover was the first Chairman of the Board, but upon his becoming Commerce Secretary in the Harding Administration, this function was divided between W.B. Poland and Edgar Rickard. Colonel James A. Logan, Jr. headed the Paris agency, which served as an important liasion between the technical advisers, the A.R.A., the Reparations Commission and other Allied authorities headquartered in Paris.
The technical advisers were primarily responsible for generating reports and recommendations, but they often served important executive functions as well, particularly in negotiating with other countries and in conferring with officials and businessmen. Theoretically, each mission had a technical adviser, a food adviser and a financial adviser; in actuality, the focus was on mining, manufacturing, transportation, and industry. Of prime importance was the condition of the railways: the technical advisers worked on problems relating to procurement of adequate rolling stock, transportation of food and fuel, incorporation of regional networks, and evaluation of tariffs, import and export licensing, rates, administrative organization, and schedules. The advisers also dealt with similar problems relating to the production and distribution of coal and oil, as well as other commodities (textiles, timber, sugar, grain); their coordinative efforts also greatly aided the A.R.A. in providing relief aid within these areas. After two years, sufficient progress had been made to allow the official termination of the missions in late 1921-early 1922.