763.72114/4295a: Telegram

The Acting Secretary of State to the Ambassador in France ( Sharp )

6752. Reports from several sources indicate deplorable condition of (1) Russian prisoners in Germany and Austria, (2) German and Austrian prisoners in Russia. At date of armistice there were estimated nearly three million Russian prisoners in Germany and Austria and nearly one and a quarter million German and Austrian prisoners in Russia and Siberia.

Department thinks it highly desirable that general policy and plan relative to these matters should be adopted by associated Governments. Can the adoption of such a policy and plan be now determined by Associated Governments?

Necessary to determine action to be taken as to food and clothing for these two classes of prisoners and to check and counteract spread of Bolshevism among them.

International Committee Y. M. C. A. has assumed salary and personal expenses of Scandinavian Y. M. C. A. secretaries in Siberia; is now considering sending American secretaries to Siberia. Latter step recommended by American Consul General Siberia. Also see Department’s 6631, December 14, 6 p.m.19

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In regard to Russian prisoners in Germany see Copenhagen’s 3291, December 12, 4 p.m. and Christiania’s 1440 December 12, 2 p.m. to Department.20 International Committee Y. M. C. A. willing to assume financial responsibility those doing war prisoner work in Central Powers for any portion salaries and expenses not paid by neutral countries. It is understood American Red Cross here appealed to by its representative Webster at Copenhagen and has referred matter to Paris.

What are Hoover’s plans, if any, relative to food for both classes of prisoners? Y. M. C. A. anxious to be advised relative to functions it may be permitted to perform. Situation merits prompt consideration. Department not in a position to take definite steps as not informed of attitude of associated Governments. Advise Department if Mission prefers that Department take this matter up separately with interested Governments.

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