861.48 Refugees 67/63

The Ambassador in Turkey (Grew) to the Secretary of State

No. 489

Sir: I have the honor to enclose for the Department’s information a copy of a report submitted to me by Mr. Taylor,69 the representative of the American Red Cross on the American Advisory Committee for the Evacuation of Russian Refugees at Constantinople, pointing out the possibility of a change in the composition of the American Advisory Committee.

In this connection it may be of interest to report that in a recent conversation with the Minister for Foreign Affairs, I casually brought up the subject of the progress which had been made in the evacuation of the Russians by remarking that over 700 of the 3,000 refugees had been evacuated by means of American funds but that certain difficulties had lately arisen which had held up the progress of evacuation. Although Tewfik Rushdi Bey did not evince any great interest in the matter of the Russian refugees, he carelessly remarked that he was gratified at the course of the evacuation.

[Page 984]

Personally I feel that the Turkish Government in spite of its official expressions to the contrary might not be averse to having the relatively small number of refugees at present in Constantinople remain. Their presence occasionally answers a useful purpose in negotiations with the Soviet Government, and with the exception of a percentage of undesirables they are a valuable addition to the economic life of the city. I cannot conceive of the Turkish Government expelling the Russian refugees en masse unless very great outside pressure were brought to bear, and if such were the case it is possible that the Turkish Government would offer the bulk of the Russians Turkish citizenship. It must be remembered that the assumption of Turkish citizenship, with its obligations and implied renunciations, is the last thing the average Russian refugee wants and he will only consider it when there is no other relief. As far as I can ascertain, the White Russians have been fairly well absorbed into the economic and social life of the community. They mix freely with all racial elements and there is no real Russian colony which fosters political aims or social homogeneity. Many of them are undoubtedly better off here than they were in Russia, having left Russia not for political reasons but because, having nothing to lose, they thought they could better their economic position elsewhere. There is at present no more privation or suffering among the Russians than among the other elements of the population.

Obviously, since so many factors enter into the situation, it would be rash to predict at present what the attitude of the Turkish Government would be towards the White Russians not evacuated from Constantinople by February 6, 1929. From what I can learn the attitude of the Soviet Government towards the White Russians is still apparently hostile.

I have [etc.]

Joseph C. Grew
  1. Not printed.↩