The Consul at Geneva (Gilbert) to the Secretary of State

No. 939 Political

Sir: I have the honor to transmit herewith two communications from the Secretary-General of the High Commission for Refugees [Page 309] coming from Germany, both dated June 2, 1934 and addressed to the Secretary of State, which have just been received in this office.

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Respectfully yours,

Prentiss B. Gilbert
[Enclosure 1]

The Secretary General of the High Commission for Refugees (Jewish and Other) Coming From Germany (Wurfbain) to the Secretary of State

Sir: On behalf of the High Commission for Refugees (Jewish and other) coming from Germany, I had the honour to bring to your attention on February 5 [6], 1934, a series of recommendations adopted by the Permanent Committee of the Governing Body of the High Commission and referring particularly to the issue of passports for the refugees and other similar questions. By your letter of April 28th. 1934 you were good enough to submit to the High Commission the point of view of your Government with regard to the above-mentioned recommendations.

During its second session, held recently in London, the Governing Body of the High Commission considered these recommendations as well as the answers received from the Governments represented on the Governing Body. Generally speaking, these Governments declared themselves willing to carry out the above-mentioned recommendations, reserving, however, their right to apply them with some slight modifications. Under these circumstances, the Governing Body adopted a series of supplementary recommendations referring to the same questions, of which I am taking the liberty to enclose two copies.

While submitting these suggestions to the kind attention of your Government, the High Commissioner begs to point to the urgency of finding a definitive and as uniform a solution as possible of the problem relative to passports, expulsions and stateless refugees. He would be grateful to be informed as soon as possible what action your Government proposes to take with regard to the above-mentioned recommendations.

I have [etc.]

A. Wurfbain

Recommendations Concerning Passports, etc.

The Governing Body takes note of the recommendations of the Permanent Committee of the High Commission concerning identity and travel documents of the refugees as a provisional solution of the problem of passports.
The Governing Body having received further recommendations of the Advisory Council on the subject of passports, stateless persons and kindred matters, draws the attention of the Governments represented to the importance of the following points. It further requests the High Commissioner to bring them to the notice of Governments not represented on the Governing Body.
When a document of identity and travel, or similar travel document issued by a State to a refugee expires, the authorities of that State should renew the document, or if the refugee has settled in another country, the authorities of the State in which he is at the time resident should issue to him a new document of the same character.
All States whether or not members of the Governing Body of the High Commission are requested to consider the document of identity and travel delivered to a refugee from Germany, or a similar travel document, as a valid travel document assimilated to a regular passport.
Further, all the States are invited to grant a visa on such a document without a fee.
Stateless refugees from Germany should receive the same facilities as to residence and employment as may be granted to refugees of German nationality, and, except where measures are required on grounds of national security or public order, a stateless refugee should not be expelled or compelled to go to another country unless it has first been ascertained that the authorities of the other State are willing to receive him, and in any case should not be expelled to Germany.


The attention of the Governing Body has been called to hardships resulting from the expulsion of refugees from one country to another, solely because they have not valid passports; and it is suggested that such expulsions should be suspended where possible pending the provision of the documents of identity and travel mentioned above.


The Governing Body refers to the attention of the High Commissioner the opinion of the Advisory Council about the hardship involved in the repatriation from a country of refuge to their country of origin or legal nationality of refugees who had made Germany their home but had another nationality, and who have no connection or ties in such country of origin or legal nationality.

[Enclosure 2]

The Secretary General of the High Commission for Refugees (Jewish and Other) Coming From Germany (Wurfbain) to the Secretary of State

Sir: At the recent meeting of the Governing Body of the High Commission, the attention of that body and of the High Commissioner [Page 311] was called to the hardship caused by the repatriation to their country of origin or of legal nationality, of refugees who had their home in Germany, but have no tie or attachment with their country of origin or of legal nationality. The Governing Body decided that the High Commissioner should bring the matter to the consideration of the interested Governments.

The refugees particularly concerned are those of Polish nationality, who, in most cases, were born and lived in Germany, know no Polish and have no ties with Poland. The fact that they should have sought refuge not in Poland, but in other countries is an ample proof of the lack of such ties on their part. If they are expelled from the country of refuge and forced to return to Poland, their position may become most serious. Owing to the destitution and economic distress of a large part of the existing Jewish population, the newcomers have hardly a chance of making a living. The Polish Government have taken the view that this class of refugees should not be forced to return to Poland.

Under these circumstances, it is submitted that these persons, or any other refugees which find themselves in similar conditions, should not be placed in a worse position than a stateless person driven from Germany, but that they should be given equal opportunity to stay in the country of refuge, and to be trained for a new vocation with a view to emigration.

The refugee organisations recognize that this class of persons have an equal claim to be assisted either to establish themselves, or to emigration, and it would be contrary to the spirit of humanitarianism which has inspired the States to open the door to refugees from Germany, if a rigid discrimination were made between those who are German subjects and those who are stateless on the one side, and those who are Polish or of some other nationality, on the other side. If, for some technical reasons, it is found impossible to lay down some general rule of equality of treatment for all classes of refugees, it is hoped that at least the cases may be considered individually, and that it should not be decided to send refugees of non-German origin back to their country of origin or of legal nationality.

The High Commissioner takes the liberty to urge that when it is established that a refugee of foreign nationality was born and had his home in Germany, he should be regarded as entitled to the same treatment as one who is or has been of German nationality.

The High Commissioner would be grateful if you could let him know in due course what action your Government proposes to take in this matter.

I have [etc.]

A. Wurfbain