868.48/129: Telegram

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

202. Department’s telegram no. 133, September 19, 3 p.m. See my telegram 194, September 20, 6 p.m.

Department is being promptly, freely and frankly advised as it is possible under the present ever rapidly changing conditions. I sympathize with the Department’s anxiety for news and desire that our Government take its part to relieve this tragic situation. The situation changes so rapidly and completely from day to day that it is practically impossible to give any comprehensive plan for relief. Thus we have attempted to meet the situations as they have arisen and have done so with much success. Just at present we have sufficient relief stores available to meet the situation and the flour situation in Constantinople is good. For the present our funds are sufficient. We received information they are ready to receive refugees at Saloniki and Cavalla without limit to number, also five or six hundred can be sent to each of several islands in the Aegean Sea. The Greek Government in order to care for these refugees may require additional funds. If Greece were to demobilize her army including the army in Thrace she could devote such war expenses to her demobilized troops and the refugees that she has created devastating Anatolia. If Greece should demobilize and place herself on a peace [footing] I should strongly recommend assisting her with funds to care for her demobilized army and her refugees from Anatolia. This will provide that the Greek Government could handle all relief work in her own country and our relief organizations would not be drawn into operations in Greece that would mean large expenditures of money and with more or less permanent activities.

Referring to previous correspondence on the 7th instant which stated critical situation developed in Smyrna I had meeting of the [Page 432]Disaster Preparedness Committee and we organized a Disaster Relief Committee for Smyrna. That committee proceeded to Smyrna on same destroyer as my chief of staff, Captain Hepburn, who was to use our naval forces to assist that committee. Major Davis representing our chapter and Mr. Jaquith representing Near East Relief, went to Smyrna and the representatives there of the Y. M. C. A., the Young Women’s Christian Association and of the American Foreign Missions Board became members of this committee and further members amongst American business men were selected to serve on the committee. Thus there has been in Smyrna a Disaster Relief Committee representing all American interests that have been carrying on relief work. Funds were raised locally in addition to funds supplied by the Near East Relief and the Red Cross and other American institutions. Other nationalities have not organized any relief work in Smyrna. Another similar committee was organized and sent to Moudania and Brousse and rendered emergency relief and assisted to evacuate all refugees. The Greek and Armenian Patriarchs furnished vessels and the French military forces landed in Moudania and French naval vessels rendered assistance in evacuating refugees.

Another committee was sent today on sub-chaser to Rodosto to render immediate relief and make investigations for further action. It is tentatively proposed to evacuate the refugees from there to Cavalla and Salonica and this place may become a sphere of future military operations. This evacuation would take place after the Smyrna situation is cleared up. I saw Hamid Bey today and urged him in the strongest way to protect refugees at Smyrna. I am making plans to protect Americans and American interests in Constantinople against any untoward eventualities.