The Ambassador in France (Bullitt) to the Secretary of State
[Received September 2—7 p.m.]
1745. Personal for the President and the Secretary. The Ambassadors and Ministers of nearly all the Latin American countries approached me individually today with the following information: The Government of the United States had informed the Government of Colombia, Cuba, et cetera, et cetera, that the Ambassadors of the United States in London and Paris would do everything possible to provide transportation for their nationals to their homes.
I shall be most happy to be of any help possible to Latin Americans; but I have [no?] transportation available for the thousands of Americans now stranded in France to say nothing of transportation for thousands of Latin Americans. I assume that if the Department has made such a promise to the Latin American Governments it has also provided the means to make possible the fulfillment of its promise.
But your telegram No. 716, undated,13 gives no indication that you have provided any means whatsoever beyond the ordinary liners.
Your statements to the Latin American countries have been taken so seriously that the Cuban Minister said to me today that he understood that the American Government intended to provide this transportation free of charge but desired to be sure whether or not Cubans stranded in France would have to pay for passages.
I believe that nothing could produce a worse effect in South America than failure of the Government of the United States to provide ships for the repatriation of Latin Americans as well as Americans in view of the promises made.
The Americans here are becoming impatient because we cannot make any definite statements. I can give wise advice. What they want, however, is not advice but ships. For example, Senator Reynolds, of North Carolina remarked today that the Government of the United States had found it possible to use the taxpayers’ money to [Page 595] provide a Government vessel for the personal use of the Secretary of the Treasury and his family, and he would like to know what provision the Government of the United States intended to make for him. He added that he was entirely ready to pay for his passage home but he felt our Government must provide ships at once.
France and England almost certainly will be at war with Germany within 48 hours at the outside. Americans stranded here may be killed. I venture to suggest that you will have a political scandal of the utmost magnitude unless you can announce within this period that you have made arrangements for specific ships to arrive at specific ports in France and England at specific dates.
I understand that there are a large number of ships available which are engaged in making pleasure cruises. I believe that these ships should be sent at once to Europe to remove stranded Americans and Latin Americans. I may add that President Quezon of the Philippines has cabled me personally asking me to provide transportation immediately for 29 Filipinos. I trust that you will be able to take immediate action.
- Dated September 1, 1939, 10 p.m., not printed; it stated that naval vessels should not be used for trans-Atlantic evacuation, and that passenger movement can and should be handled by merchant shipping (340.1115/328).↩