868.51 Refugee Settlement Commission/46

The Vice Chairman, Central Committee in Charge of Foreign Operations, American Red Cross (Bicknell) to the Under Secretary of State (Phillips)

Dear Mr. Phillips: The American Red Cross in Washington has just received a cable from our Commissioner in Greece, advising us that the Greek Government has formally requested the American Red Cross to continue relief operations several months, stating that the government is unable to undertake the care of the refugees until six months after the signature of peace. I presume that this request has also reached you. It was forwarded to me by cable and I have today sent the following cable to our Commissioner in Athens:

“Replying to your cable advise Greek Government impossible continue relief operation beyond June thirty but we are hopeful that substantial results may follow action American Government in presenting Greek situation to allied governments. Express our continuing sympathetic interest and belief Greece will succeed in extricating herself from present great difficulties.”

I hasten to send you this correspondence in order that you may be informed of the fact that the position of the Red Cross has not changed in regard to the date of our withdrawal. It seems to us wise to stand firmly upon this point. If any project is brought forward [Page 339] as a result of the action of the State Department which calls for further action by the Red Cross the matter can be taken up de novo at the proper time.

I feel that it is important to make it necessary that Greece shall be made to feel her full responsibility in the circumstances. Our withdrawal should have a tendency to compel the breaking up of the concentration camps and a wider distribution of the refugees throughout the country. Without this breaking up no progress can be made toward the absorption of the refugees into the normal population or their establishment in self support. Possibly, too, the pressure of the full burden of responsibility for the refugees will have a wholesome effect on governmental policies.

I am on a hurried trip to Paris and am expecting to sail for home about June first. In the meantime any important communication from the Department relating to Greece or Constantinople or any other European situation may be directed as usual to our Washington office and will be forwarded in substance to me by cable.


Ernest P. Bicknell