860c.4016/57: Telegram

The Minister in Poland (Gibson) to the Acting Secretary of State8

35. Department’s 12, May 23rd, 4 p.m.

I have received no reports of atrocities perpetrated against Jews in Poland, Galicia, Lithuania with the exception of the Pinsk and Vilna affairs to which I shall make further reference. My sources of information are the following:
The local press including Jewish papers.
The American Relief Administration which has representatives covering all the districts in Poland.
The American Red Cross with field headquarters Bialystok and units operating in Lithuania and eastern Poland.
The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee whose representatives travel throughout countries and which through local organization is kept informed of Jewish needs and developments particularly in those districts (where?) Jewish population is most numerous.
Other Allied missions who likewise have traveling or resident representatives in all districts.
Jewish delegations and representatives of Jewish organizations who are aware of the fact that I am accessible have availed themselves of the opportunity to talk frankly with me concerning the situation of the Jews in Poland.
Miscellaneous sources of information among them the military attaché and Lieutenant Foster who have just returned from a trip to eastern Galicia.
There is bitter feeling against classes of Jews which arises largely from economic causes and not from religious intolerance. [Page 751] This gives rise to a considerable amount of petty persecution which cannot be prevented or readily controlled by Governmental action.
Certain elements of the Jews support the Government and are respected as an integral part of Polish nation. Another large element of the Jews are outspokenly and avowedly hostile to the Government and this attitude has served to intensify bad feeling.
Vilna was captured after house to house fighting on April 20th, and a certain number of the local population were thus killed. In this fighting 35 casualties are reported of Polish forces and 38 civilians were killed. Known and suspected Communists in the town were deported as hostages against Polish citizens deported by the Bolsheviki. A commission has been investigating these cases and those found to be reputable persons are being promptly returned to Vilna. Colonel Godson, military attaché at Berne, Lieutenant Dewald, his assistant and an American newspaper correspondent Cameron Mackenzie were in Vilna on May 5th and made an investigation of the situation talking with Jews and others. Since that date representatives of the Relief Administration, Lieutenant Colonel Dawley of the General Staff attached to the mission in Lithuania and a representative of the Jewish Joint Distribution Committee have been in Vilna and they are unanimous in reporting that there was no Jewish massacre in that city. This is confirmed by the statements in the Jewish press in Warsaw.
A report of the Pinsk affair by Lieutenant Foster who was representing the Peace Commission in Poland at the time and who acted as member of the Inter-Allied Mission which proceeded immediately to that city to investigate is being transmitted as a separate telegram.
I should be glad to receive for my information and guidance the “well authenticated reports” Jewish massacres referred to by Mr. Hughes.
I am preparing a full report along the lines desired by Department. It will be sent as soon as possible.
  1. Forwarded by the Commission to Negotiate Peace as No. 2382.