868.48/92: Telegram

The High Commissioner at Constantinople (Bristol) to the Acting Secretary of State


179. The Department’s attention is earnestly called to the extreme gravity of the condition of refugees at Smyrna and elsewhere, and to the attitude which the Allies assume toward the situation.

It is estimated that a total of 300,000 are entirely destitute. Situation extremely critical owing to approach of season of rain and cold. It is probably useless for these people to attempt to return to their homes. Their villages have been destroyed, and they would face hostility of Turkish population which witnessed devastations of Greek army. All reports agree that to send refugees back would be sheer murder.

The Greeks and Allies appear to avoid responsibility and to assume that Americans will take over situation. I was asked by the British High Commissioner, on September 5, to take charge of situation through our relief agencies. He has never indicated what measures of relief would be adopted by the British or other Allies, although I asked to be informed on that point.

General Harington10 sent representatives yesterday to inform me of desperate plight of refugees at Rodosto in Thrace who had been evacuated from Mudania. He asked whether help could be sent to them by American relief agencies. I told Harington’s representative frankly that I felt obligation rested upon Greeks and Allies to undertake that task. When I was told that the British had no organization [Page 421] for that purpose I replied that the time had come to form one, and that neither had we an organization for that purpose.

If American relief agencies should enter upon wide measures of relief in the present emergency, as seems probable, I earnestly recommend that Department assist them by urging upon the Allied Governments their responsibility for a share in the task.

  1. Allied Commander at Constantinople.