840.48 Refugees/1425: Telegram

The Ambassador in Italy ( Phillips ) to the Secretary of State

55. My 12, January 12, 5 p.m.47 Representatives of the Italian Refugee Committee called upon me this afternoon and discussed the [Page 652] approaching crisis for all foreign Jews in Italy who will not have been able to leave Italy before March 12. It is believed that there are about 6,000, one-third of whom are German, one-third Polish and one-third of various nationalities. Only those who can convince the Italian authorities that they will receive within 2 or 3 months permission to proceed to foreign countries will be permitted to remain unmolested and at this date there are comparatively few of these. The Committee fears that drastic measures will be taken against the several thousands remaining who may be sent either to concentration camps or over the frontiers in sealed cars.

In view of the assurances which Mussolini gave me on the occasion of presenting the President’s letter to him (see my 2, January 3, 9 p.m.48) it would seem to me that perhaps I am in a position to approach the Italian Government and ask for a delay of 2 or 3 months beyond March 12. At the same time it might not be inappropriate for me to suggest that the Italian Government invite a representative of the London Committee to come to Rome and discuss the problem in the same manner in which representatives of the Committee negotiated with the German authorities in Berlin.

You will recollect that in his conversation with me Mussolini expressed a willingness to cooperate with the President in finding a solution of the entire international problem. Since the Italian refugee problem is an important part of the whole, do you not feel that I am in a position to make some helpful approach at this end?

Phillips
  1. Not printed.
  2. Not printed; for President’s letter of December 7, 1938, see Foreign Relations, 1938, vol. i, p. 858.