840.48 Refugees/1439

The Chief of the Italian Government (Mussolini) to President Roosevelt11


Dear Mr. President: Ambassador Phillips on his return from Washington handed me your letter12 and I have discussed with him the various points raised by you in the letter and in the memorandum13 which was annexed thereto. He will have informed you, certainly, of our conversation and you are therefore already acquainted with my point of view.

In so far as Ethiopia is concerned, it is not possible to consider the organization of Jewish emigration to that region. Apart from every other consideration, the general attitude of Jewish circles toward Italy is not such as to make it advisable for the Italian Government to receive on any of its territory large numbers of Jewish immigrants.

It is a question, moreover, not only of problems arising in connection with the situation of the Jews in Italy or in some other country, but of problems which are general in character, since the Jewish question exists, in various forms, in almost all European countries and must be considered therefore as a general European question in order to solve it along constructive lines.

In my opinion the only countries which can receive and settle large numbers of Jewish immigrants are those which have at their disposal within their national boundaries extensive areas sparsely populated and with large resources which can be adequately developed and exploited. These countries alone because of their extent and wealth are, in fact, able to give employment to large numbers of Jews who may have the intention of leaving the countries of Europe in which they are established at the present time. On the other hand smaller overseas countries with more limited resources might also be able to receive, in available areas, a certain number of Jews, provided the emigration is rationally organized by international agreements.

But that which I have always considered and still consider to be the most practical solution is the creation in some part of the world of a true and proper Jewish state. The experiment of the Jewish Home in Palestine has failed on account of historic conditions which were absolutely unfavorable to the creation of a Jewish state in Palestine, but the idea of creating such a state elsewhere should not be [Page 64] abandoned. Even though this state were to be small in territory, the Jews nevertheless would find therein, as is the case with all other peoples, their center and basis of national existence. The Jews, having become citizens of this state, would thus have a nationality of their own and their situation defined, and, furthermore, when residing in other countries, they would receive from their own state the assistance and protection to which all foreigners are normally entitled from their respective states. Only in this way would the Jewish problem in Europe cease to be the insoluble problem of a minority—the only one—which is deprived of a nationality.

These are the ideas which I explained to Ambassador Phillips and which I have briefly summarized for you here. I, for my part, shall always be glad to study whatever concrete plan you will have taken under consideration in the meantime, convinced as I am that a general solution of the Jewish problem on a practical basis is highly desirable.

I take this occasion, my dear Mr. President, to thank you for the courteous expressions which you conveyed to me in your letter and to send you my best wishes and assurances of my highest consideration.

  1. Letter left at the Department of State by the Italian Chargé, February 2.
  2. See draft letter dated December 7, 1938, Foreign Relations, 1938, vol. i, p. 858.
  3. See memorandum dated December 7 and telegram No. 133, December 30, 1938, 7 p.m., to the Ambassador in Italy, ibid., pp. 859 and 885, respectively.