The Acting Secretary of State to the Commission to Negotiate Peace
2456. Your 2810 June 26, 5 p.m.30 Following two statements are the only ones given to Press by Department on Jewish situation in Poland:
1. June 3, 1919. The Provisional Government of Poland has given the American Legation at Warsaw positive assurances that it is opposed to anti-Jewish activities and that it will not tolerate persecution of Jews in that country. It will take strong measures at once to protect all Jews in Poland, the Legation was advised. This statement reported in a despatch from Warsaw to the Department of State today31 was in reply to instructions from the Department to the Legation to ascertain the true situation and to inquire into the attitude of the Polish Government.
The American Minister reported in the despatch today that he had called upon General Pilsudski, President of the Polish Government, and that General Pilsudski had advised him he not only is opposed to persecution of Jews but has given strict instructions to maintain order and to protect the Jews at Chenstokhov, that he had warned the army in peremptory orders that the persecutions will not be tolerated, that officers will be responsible for any such acts on the part of their men, and that severe punishment will be meted out to offenders. The situation in Chenstokhov is said to have been investigated personally by the Polish Minister of the Interior.
President Pilsudski expressed indignation that reflections had been brought upon the country by anti-Jewish activities. He stated that the persecution of the Jews brought shame upon the name of Poland and could only harm the country. He pointed out that the Jews, of whom there are millions in Poland, are going to remain in Poland and that the Polish people will live in close contact with them. He said that both the Government and the best element of the Polish people are strongly opposed to any persecution knowing as they do that discord among elements of the Polish population must be eliminated in order that the country may settle down to peaceful development and for the public weal the Government will suppress with an iron hand any anti-Jewish activities.
2. June 7, 1919. “Cable advices regarding the Jewish situation in Poland have been received by the Department of State from the American Minister at Warsaw, Mr. Hugh Gibson.
Mr. Gibson states32 that he has received no reports of atrocities against Jews in Poland, Lithuania and Galicia, with the exception of the affairs at Vilna and Pinsk. He states that his sources of information are the local newspapers, including the Jewish press; [Page 772] the American Relief Administration, whose representatives cover all Polish districts; the American Red Cross; the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee; Allied Mission; representatives of Jewish organizations who have talked frankly with him concerning the situation; and miscellaneous sources.
It is stated that information has been given that there is feeling against certain classes of Jews largely due to economic reasons rather than to religious intolerance, and that according to this information certain Jewish elements support the Government and are regarded with respect as an integral part of the nation of Poland while another Jewish element is openly hostile to the Government.
The city of Vilna was captured by the Poles on April 29th, in a house to house fight, and some of the local population were killed during this fight. It is reported that the Polish forces had 35 casualties and that 38 civilians were killed. Persons who were known to be, or were even suspected of being, Communists, it is stated, were deported as hostages as a set-off against Poles deported by the Bolshevists. These cases have been under investigation by a commission and those found to be citizens of good repute are being returned to Vilna without delay.
Colonel Godson, attached to the American Legation at Berne, his assistant, Lieutenant Dewald, and an American newspaper correspondent were in Vilna on May 5th and talked with Jews and others regarding the situation. Later, representatives of the Relief Administration and also a general staff officer attached to the Mission in Lithuania and a representative of the Jewish Joint Distribution Committee were in Vilna. Information has been given that all of these persons are unanimous in the report that there was no Jewish massacre in Vilna and that statements in the Jewish newspapers of Warsaw confirm this view.”
Chairman of Foreign Affairs Committee gave to press without substantial change last portion of Gibson’s telegram No. 114 , June 2nd, Mission’s No. 2439, June 7th32 from “4. Our aim in this matter” to end.