840.48 Refugees/a: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Ambassador in the United Kingdom ( Kennedy )2

Please call on the Minister of Foreign Affairs and inquire whether the British Government (on its own behalf or on behalf of the self-governing Dominions) would be willing to cooperate with the Government of the United States in setting up a special committee composed of representatives of a number of governments for the purpose of facilitating the emigration from Austria3 and presumably from Germany of political refugees.
Our idea is that whereas such representatives would be designated by the governments concerned, any financing of the emergency emigration referred to would be undertaken by private organizations within the respective countries. Furthermore, it should be understood that no country would be expected or asked to receive a greater number of emigrants than is permitted by its existing legislation.
As soon as enough replies have been received to warrant going ahead, the President contemplates appointing a representative, who would proceed abroad without delay, to meet with the rest of the committee. It is suggested, purely as a matter of convenience, that the first meeting be held in some Swiss city as being centrally located.
Please make it perfectly clear that in making this proposal the Government of the United States in no sense intends to discourage or interfere with such work as is already being done on the refugee problem by the Migration Bureau of the International Labor Office, or by any other existing agencies. It has been prompted to make the present proposal because of the urgency of the problem with which the [Page 741] world is faced and the necessity of speedy, cooperative effort, under governmental supervision, if widespread human suffering is to be averted.
Similar approaches are being made to the governments of France, Belgium, Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Switzerland and Italy and the governments of all the other American Republics.
Please telegraph reply as soon as received.

[Favorable replies to the Department’s telegram of March 23 were received from the 20 other American Republics and from Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom; and from Australia and New Zealand through the British Foreign Office. Replies received from 29 countries were published in whole or in part in Department of State, Press Releases, April 2, 1938, pages 426–432; ibid., April 9, pages 475–476; and ibid., April 16, pages 480–482.]

  1. Sent, mutatis mutandis, to the American Diplomatic Missions listed in paragraph 5.
  2. The incorporation of Austria into the German Belch was effected on March 18; see pp. 384 ff.