861.48/1385

The French Ambassador ( Jusserand ) to the Acting Secretary of State

[Translation33]

Mr. Secretary of State: The President of the Council and Minister for Foreign Affairs informs me that after General Wrangel’s defeat, 135,000 persons fleeing before the Bolsheviks left the Crimea on board the ships which the Government of Southern Russia had at its command and came, absolutely destitute, seeking refuge at Constantinople.

The French Government which if consulted would have advised against such an exodus did not feel at liberty to remain indifferent to the immense distress of these unfortunates and yielding to considerations of pure humanity has found itself alone in bearing hitherto the extremely heavy burden of feeding, maintaining and housing them, an obligation which it was in no wise compelled to assume.

Finding it impossible to care for so large a number of persons at Constantinople, the French authorities endeavored to distribute them in the neighboring countries and to facilitate their return to Russia. On the one hand 6,600 of them have been sent to Bizerte on the condition that the French Government would defray their living expenses. Serbia agreed to admit 22,300 and Bulgaria, Roumania and Greece about 7,000. There remain about 100,000 at Constantinople, Tchataldja, Gallipoli and Lemnos.

On the other hand a proposition has been laid before the Soviet administration by Mr. Nansen and the International Red Cross, for the repatriation of all refugees who might wish to go back to Russia under the necessary guaranties for their lives and freedom, but the Soviet administration has evaded its duties and has as yet made no answer to this proposition.

France being unable to continue indefinitely the considerable sacrifices which she has made to assist the refugees from the Crimea, and which amount already to approximately 100,000,000 francs, has turned over the future care of those people to a general Russian charitable association to which belong the principal persons of note living outside of Russia, without respect to party and without any political or commercial aim. But the association does not have the [Page 830] funds for the fulfillment of its task; it must in a great measure have recourse to the assistance of all the Governments and all the charitable organizations of the world.

Furthermore, it will not be enough to supply it with financial resources. It will also be necessary, in order to relieve the congestion around Constantinople, to provide for the housing of a part of the refugees in other territories, where they would be in a position to earn a living.

The gathering of nearly 100,000 refugees in a region with very limited resources offers grave inconveniences of an economic character and, particularly, the fact that although the former army of General Wrangel no longer exists and its soldiers have been disarmed and are only considered as private persons, their continued concentration near the Straits in idleness and in destitute circumstances, might become a genuine danger to the safety of Constantinople and the peace of the East. It is, therefore, important that they should be dispersed without delay. Ten thousand of these former soldiers have already asked to be sent to any country that would admit them and give them an opportunity to provide for themselves by their work. The Russian Office of Emigration that has been created in Constantinople has just sent out a stirring appeal to all the nations in the world begging them for a little space in the countries that are not so densely populated, for the Russians who have left their country in fear of the Bolshevik horrors.

I am instructed by the French Government to appeal to the sentiment of humanity and the spirit of solidarity of the Government of the United States, and to ask for its cooperation toward remedying a situation that is both dangerous and tragic.

I trust that Your Excellency will lend an ear to this appeal, and will let me know what action the American Government would be inclined to take in the common interest of civilization, either through financial cooperation in the undertaking of the general Russian association for the relief of Crimean refugees or through procuring a shelter for those refugees.

Please accept [etc.]

Jusserand
  1. File translation revised.