868.51 Refugee Settlement Commission/61: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Special Mission at Lausanne

182. Under date of May 25th the Department received an informal communication from the British Embassy, reading as follows:

“On April 9th the Ambassador addressed a note No. 272 to Mr. Hughes to the effect that His Majesty’s Government would be glad to co-operate with the United States Government in the matter of the refugee problem in the Near East and would await proposals from the United States Government as to some constructive scheme for the solution of this problem after the cessation of the work of the various American relief organizations.

“As nearly all the voluntary relief work now being conducted in Greece will shortly be terminated, you will appreciate that the matter is becoming urgent. I understand from the Foreign Office that proposals have been put forward to solve this problem by means of a loan to Greece, and that Greece is prepared to offer serious guarantees in return for such a loan. Besides this a comprehensive scheme of settlement and relief is being prepared by Colonel Procter, the Deputy High Commissioner for Refugees at Constantinople. This scheme, together with the question of a loan to Greece, will be considered by the Finance Committee of the League of Nations on June 15th next at Geneva.

“In view of the magnificent work already done by American relief organizations in connection with this problem and the great interest of the United States Government in this question, as shown by Mr. Hughes’ note of March 31st last to Sir Auckland Geddes, my Government have suggested that I should informally enquire whether the United States Government would be disposed to consider sending a technical observer to attend the meeting of the Finance Committee in Geneva on June 15th next. Should the United States Government be disposed to cooperate in this manner, the presence of an American representative would be cordially welcomed by His Majesty’s Government, etc.”

In reply the Department has notified the British Embassy that Dolbeare is being instructed to proceed from Lausanne to Geneva in order to be present in a consultative capacity at the forthcoming meetings of the Finance Committee of the League of Nations insofar as these meetings relate to the question of emergency relief for refugees in the Near East.

Department therefore desires that Dolbeare should ascertain the exact time of the proposed meetings and should plan to be present.

[Paraphrase.] At an early opportunity Dolbeare should make a statement as indicated below. It is desired that this statement be made early in the meetings, preferably before the Procter plan or any other plans have been developed in detail as reports from Athens indicate that the basis of such plans is the hope that the brunt of [Page 341] the work will be borne by American relief and finance as in the past. The Department feels that since America has carried the burden up to the present time others should now assume their full share of the responsibility for the future. [End paraphrase.]

Outline of statement to be made by Dolbeare follows:

Appropriate reference should be made to the informal communication from British Embassy quoted above and to the Department’s reply as indicating grounds for the presence of an American representative in a consultative capacity at the League meeting.
See Department’s written instruction to Bern April 14th20 communicating text of note of March 31st to British, French and Italian Ambassadors21 and Department’s 137 May 14, 6 p.m.20 summarizing their reply. Dolbeare may make reference to this correspondence and to the general work of the Red Cross and Near East Relief along the following lines:

“In a note of March 31st last the Secretary of State called to the attention of the British, French and Italian Ambassadors in Washington the work which was being carried on in the Near East by American relief agencies, particularly the Red Cross and Near East Relief. In Greece this refugee work has been carried on by the Red Cross practically single-handed and has constituted a serious drain upon the resources of that organization, which has been caring for approximately half a million refugees for the past eight months. Fully appreciating that this problem is one which a single relief organization should not be called upon to meet, the emergency stage of the work being over, the Red Cross, in order to give the Greek authorities ample time to make provision for assuming the direct supervision of the work, definitely announced on April 2 its withdrawal on July 1st. The note of the Secretary of State in bringing this fact to the attention of the Allied Embassies pointed out that a solution of the problem did not lie in measures of temporary relief. The reply of the British, French and Italian Ambassadors to the Secretary of State’s communication of March 31st indicated their deep interest in the refugee problem and a willingness to consider proposals for systematized relief work. It was this Government’s understanding that the present meeting was for the purpose of considering such a plan.”

Dolbeare may then state that he will submit for the consideration of his Government and for the information of the Red Cross and other interested relief agencies the details of any plan which may be advanced. He may then continue along the following lines:

“In view of the fact that in its reply to this Government’s note of March 31st the British Government indicated that it would welcome proposals from the United States Government, he is authorized to [Page 342] state that in case an approved plan of relief is formulated, Department is prepared to suggest that a commission representative of the interested governments or agencies be set up at Athens to assist in the realization of such a plan. Such a commission if established under these conditions could temporarily assist the Greek authorities to whom the American Red Cross will turn over the work of emergency relief on July 1st next, when these authorities will assume responsibility for the conduct of future relief operations.

To cover the cost of the functioning of this Commission, it would appear appropriate that the interested governments or agencies should contribute. The American Red Cross is disposed to appoint a representative and to contribute a fair share of the expenses of the Commission.”

Dolbeare should add

“the American Red Cross has indicated that upon the termination of their activities in Greece on June 30th, there will be left in the hands of the local committees supplies which will carry the feeding of the refugees possibly six weeks beyond the date of the Red Cross’ withdrawal. It should be understood, however, that after the present supplies of the Red Cross in Greece are exhausted that organization will not be in a position to continue its program of relief during a period of time which might be consumed in reaching a conclusion regarding the solution of the refugee problem.”

[Paraphrase.] Department’s telegram 151 of May 26.22 Dolbeare should avoid any discussion at Geneva of the 1918 Credit to Greece but should carefully report any information or comment on this subject at the meeting.

Repeat to Legation in Greece as our No. 32 for its confidential information. [End paraphrase.]

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  2. Ante, p. 329.
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