The Yugoslav Minister (Grouitch) to the Secretary of State

No. P. 409

Sir: On July 1st last I had the honor to address your predecessor the following note:

“I have been requested by my Government to make the following communication to the United States Government:

“Following the collapse of the anti-bolshevik Russian Army of General Denikin, a request was addressed to the Government of the Serbs, Croats and Slovenes that eight thousand Russian refugees, wounded soldiers and invalids be allowed to enter into the territory of the Serb, Croat and Slovene State. The Government having granted this request the Russian refugees began to arrive in the second half of January last. Although conditions prevailing in the country rendered the housing of these refugees difficult, every effort was made to help them, and accommodation was found for not only eight thousand but for thirty thousand refugees, there being among them civilians, soldiers, invalids and a few military organizations.

“The Government of the Serbs, Croats and Slovenes has been exposed to great expense on account of these refugees, all of whom had to undergo a medical quarantine in Salonika and on the Serbo-Bulgarian frontier because of the typhus epidemic existing among them. Nevertheless, this and other expenses were met with the greatest willingness. The Treasury of the State arranged for the exchange at a fixed rate of the Russian currency which the refugees had brought with them, and Russian rubles to the value of four millions of dinars were thus monthly exchanged. This operation amounted in reality to a pecuniary help given by the Serb-Croat-Slovene State to an Ally and later on it was suspended and replaced by outright help in money given to the refugees.

“Owing to the situation on the Bolsheviki front there is a steady daily influx of refugees (civilians as well as officers and soldiers) in the Serb-Croat-Slovene territory, but the Government of the Serbs, Croats and Slovenes is no more in a position to admit them and to satisfy with its own resources even their most indispensable requirements. It is with the greatest reluctance that the Government has come to the conclusion that it will be unable to give, unaided, assistance to these Russians who not only are its Allies, but who are also Allies with France, Great Britain and the United States, with whose help they fought until now against the Bolsheviki. But this conclusion has been forced upon the Government [Page 838] by the financial situation of the country and by the fact that there are now about eighty thousand more Russian refugees (civilians, officers and soldiers) seeking admission in the Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, who are at present scattered in the Baltic states, Poland, Roumania, Bulgaria, Crimea, Greece and Asia.

“The Serb-Croat-Slovene Government considers that by rendering assistance to the Russian refugees, it is doing not only its own duty but also the duty of the Great Powers with whom it is allied and associated. And since it is forced now to acknowledge its inability to continue this assistance unaided, it feels that the Allied and Associated Powers should participate in the execution of this duty by granting for that purpose to the Serb-Croat-Slovene Government the necessary amounts of money which it would add to its own appropriations and use for the relief of all these refugees.

“My Government has instructed me at the same time to solicit the material help of the United States Government for the relief of these Russian refugees and to point out that such assistance would prevent these Russians from taking refuge in the territory of their former enemies—a political tendency which has already manifested itself among them. My Government wishes also to repeat that it has done all that it was in its power to do, from a material as well as from a humanitarian point of view to help these people, who are its Allies.

“Hoping that you will inform me at your earliest convenience of the decision of the United States Government with regard to this request, I beg to assure you, Sir, of my high esteem.”

According to the reply which I received to the foregoing, the government of the United States was unable to comply with the request of my Government.

In compliance with instructions lately received from my Government I have the honor to inform you that there are now on the Island of Lemnos and on the Gallipoli Penninsula about forty-five thousand Russian refugees from the Crimea. Their situation is desperate because the aid which they have been receiving will shortly be discontinued. These refugees face starvation and are applying to the Royal Government for help. The Royal Government, however, is unable to extend any assistance to them, because, owing to the very difficult financial conditions, it is unable to help, with its own resources, even the forty thousand Russian refugees who are already in the Kingdom.

My Government feels confident that the United States Government will take under serious consideration the plight of the Russian refugees, and the difficult situation with which the Royal Government is confronted in regard thereto. My Government begs, at the same time, to express the earnest hope that the United States Government will find means to extend financial help for the relief of these [Page 839] refugees; that is, of those who are already in the Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, as well as of those who are on the Island of Lemnos and the Gallipoli Penninsula.

Awaiting your response on behalf of the Government of the United States, I beg to assure [etc.]

S. Y. Grouitch