868.51 Refugee Settlement Commission/42: Telegram

The Chargé in Greece ( Atherton ) to the Secretary of State


94. Colonel Haskell makes following recommendations:

The United States should not participate with League of Nations. The League’s representative here, Colonel Procter, British, states that he is investigating how to solve refugee problem and administer funds from a contemplated loan of $50,000,000 which is to be raised on Greek security and approved by the League. Such an amount is excessive and probably America will be asked to contribute major part. The fund would be administered under British control. The representative here of the League is holding out prospects which are exciting the Greek authorities. The League’s plan, which Haskell considers impractical, calls for the establishment of the refugees on land in Macedonia.
Haskell disapproves suggested movement of refugees to Russia because of lack of confidence in Soviet promises, uncertain political conditions in Russia, difficulty due to language differences, low percentage of refugee agriculture [sic], and poverty in Russia. The French proposal18 is insignificant and negligible. The French would take only selected efficient refugees. This would increase difficulties by lowering the average quality of those who remained although it would give France a claim to have a voice in the solution.
The United States should not facilitate or suggest further transfer to Greece of Greek refugees now in Asia Minor. This is unnecessary and would create claim to have purely American relief here continued.
The interchange of populations is a theoretical solution. It means, however, misery for 500,000 Greeks who long to return to Asia and for an equal number of Turks now in Macedonia. This is an unnatural solution and its execution will be subject to abuse and much graft.
Haskell considers the return of the refugees to Turkey to be the best solution. He realizes the Turkish opposition but believes it might be overcome by united pressure of the powers at the Lausanne Conference, the offering of financial aid to Turkey during the period when the refugees are being reestablished, and other compensation to Turkey. In this way the removal of 400,000 Turks from Thrace and Macedonia as provided by convention for the interchange of populations would be avoided.
If the above suggestion is not accepted Haskell recommends that the contributing governments set up an international commission to investigate, to make recommendations as to a permanent solution and to handle the relief necessary until the restoration of peace makes it possible to consider definite solution. Within three months after peace is signed the commission should report to the contributing powers. Relief should be limited to necessary sanitation and a minimum supply of food and clothing. It is estimated that the work of the commission including relief will cost $500,000 a month beginning July 1. Haskell suggests that America assume at least half the total cost and insist upon an American chairman and control with no contact at all with the League of Nations. Nothing should change the decision to have Red Cross activities terminate June 30. There should be no consideration of an American loan for Greece either through European agencies or directly.”

I am informed by my British colleague that Great Britain is awaiting a proposal from the United States and that he has received instructions to facilitate the investigations of the representative here of the League of Nations. The British Foreign Office approves the general scheme of relief recommended by the League’s representative here. My British colleague also intimated that his Government would approve supervision by the League of Nations in putting into effect the exchange of populations.

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At present the League’s representative is investigating the financial statement of the Greek Government, a copy of which I am sending by pouch.19 I have received confidential information that the Greek Government is somewhat skeptical of obtaining money through the League.

My French colleague is indifferent in his comments.

I think it is the consensus of reliable opinion here that at present there are about 400,000 persons living in Greece who cannot be absorbed into the economic life of the country even with foreign initiative. I believe that except for emergency relief no American cooperation should be given to any measures which do not provide for suitable American supervision and a permanent solution of this problem.

Haskell is leaving for Moscow tonight. I understand that Caffery plans to reach Washington early in June. I have informed Lausanne and Constantinople.

  1. See supra.
  2. Not printed.