840.48 Refugees/1386: Telegram

The Chargé in the United Kingdom ( Johnson ) to the Secretary of State

169. For the Secretary and Under Secretary from Rublee. I asked Gilbert32 to inform you that upon my return to London from Berlin I would telegraph you my observations on the talks held successively with Schacht and Wohlthat which resulted in the memorandum outlining the plan which the Germans propose to adopt with regard to the emigration of Jews.

I want first of all to give you some idea of the atmosphere of the conversations. I had 12 meetings in all, 3 with Schacht and 9 with Wohlthat. The object of the meetings was to set down in writing, in as much detail as I could to persuade the Germans to state, the plan which was first orally presented to me in London by Schacht. We, on our side, pressed the Germans throughout the conversations to state with the maximum of clarity how they proposed to organize the emigration, how they intended to care for the persons who would remain [Page 83] behind in Germany permanently or while awaiting emigration, and how they proposed to deal with the Jewish property which would be set aside in trust while awaiting transfer. Following each of our conversations, Schacht and then Wohlthat would meet with the representatives of all the German Ministries concerned and at our next meeting would give us the results of these conferences. Moreover before giving me his letter confirming the accuracy of the memorandum Wohlthat stated that he had obtained the approval not only of Goering but of all the other ministers concerned. I am convinced therefore that this document represents the maximum contribution which the Germans are prepared to make at this time. It represents a substantial departure from their previous policies and an entirely new attitude towards the Jewish problem which cannot be welcome to the radical elements which are opposed to Goering. I obtained a definite impression that the conservative elements in Germany are sincerely anxious to modify the Jewish policies because they do not approve of the methods which were previously followed and are conscious of the adverse effect on Germany and on German trade in the outside world.

With regard to procedure, the Germans made it clear that what they were giving us was a confidential statement of what they are willing to do, acting independently upon their own initiative. They are not willing to recognize the Committee officially but they are willing to deal with the Director acting as an intermediary and will expect to hear from him what the receiving governments represented on the Committee propose to do in carrying out a program of orderly immigration. They will put their program into effect when they are satisfied that the countries of immigration are disposed to receive currently Jews from Germany in conformity with the program.

With regard to the substance of the conversations I should make it clear that since I was in no position to discuss an outside loan with the Germans or any scheme for additional exports, these matters were by common consent excluded except as provided in the memorandum. You will note moreover that the program relates exclusively to Jews. I raised the point with the Germans that my mandate related not only to Jews but to all persons who had to leave Germany for racial, religious or political reasons. The Germans refused, however, to extend the scope of the conversations to persons other than Jews as defined in point 1 of the memorandum.

As regards point 3 in the memorandum, financing of emigration, at the outset I attempted to get the Germans to agree to assume an absolute obligation to transfer the capital of the trust fund in foreign exchange over a period of years, but they would not agree to this. I also repeatedly pressed the Germans that they should not insist upon [Page 84] payment in foreign exchange for the raw material content of equipment and capital goods which might be purchased out of the trust fund. This they also refused to consider and made it quite clear that Germany was not prepared to surrender foreign exchange in any form.

In my judgment, the proposals of the German Government are the most that can be obtained from them at present. It is my intention to recommend to the Committee that it take cognizance of the German program as a basis of action by the participating governments in conformity with this program and instruct me to reply in this sense to the Germans.

I agree with Taylor, who is telegraphing you, that it is extremely important for him to be instructed promptly in order that the meeting may be successfully prepared in conversations this week and at the officers’ meeting on Sunday next. [Rublee.]

  1. Prentiss B. Gilbert, Chargé in Germany.