840.48 Refugees/1384: Telegram
The Secretary of State to the Chargé in the United Kingdom (Johnson)
104. For Myron Taylor and Rublee. Your 167, February 6, 4 p.m. Before commenting specifically upon Rublee’s memorandum to Wohlthat, we wish to emphasize certain general considerations.
1. The program outlined relates exclusively to Jews. You should emphasize to the Committee that its task also covers the emigration and resettlement of Catholics, Protestants and others. As a practical matter, however, there appears to be no objection to admitting frankly that Jewish emigration and resettlement constitutes by far the greatest and most difficult part of the Committee’s task.
2. The condition that the program will be put into effect only when Germany “is satisfied that the countries of immigration are disposed to receive currently Jews from Germany in conformity with this program” is a serious one. It gives Germany the final say as to what must be done or what assurances must be given by other governments before the program will be put into effect and would permit Germany to drop or change the program at any time on the excuse that other governments were not acting in accordance with it.
3. We feel strongly that the program outlined must be carried out unilaterally by the German Government. We agree that the program represents the maximum obtainable from the German Government at this time, that it represents a new and more favorable attitude toward the problem of Jewish emigration, and that it will, if carried out, provide a notable improvement over present conditions in Germany. [Page 85] On the other hand, even this maximum contains objectionable features which this Government would not wish to condone by participating in an agreement between the Committee and the German Government or by an active acceptance. In this connection the German position that they are acting independently on their own initiative is helpful. As a unilateral program it presumably represents the best that could be expected. As a basis for an agreement it would be definitely unacceptable.
4. We consider that the program outlined would, if carried out, represent a sufficient improvement over present conditions (aside from the repercussions in Germany which could be expected if the Committee did not take cognizance of the program) to warrant the Committee taking cognizance of it. We do not, however, favor a reply by the Committee to the Germans which could be construed either as an acceptance or as initiating a negotiation between the Committee and the German Government which would saddle the former with responsibility. The distinction between raising no objection to, and actively accepting, a project may seem a fine one, but it is none the less real. The Committee, having taken cognizance of what Germany is prepared to do, should make clear that it is disposed, also unilaterally, to deal to the fullest extent of its ability and within the limits of the immigration laws and practices of its member Governments with the problem of developing opportunities for settlement.
The following are more specific considerations:
- In so far as our immigration laws are concerned, it is unthinkable that we could admit the right of another government to say whom we should or should not admit and there is, of course, no way in which preference can be granted to persons in the wage-earning category as such. As far as we are concerned the only way in which the percentage of persons of that category coming to this country could be increased would be by the purely voluntary action of persons in other categories giving up their places when their turn is reached under the quota. Obviously no assurance of any kind could be given in this connection and no pressure could be exerted by us.
- The emigration of 150,000 persons of the wage-earning category from Germany over a period of 5 years should not, however, be impossible or even excessively difficult without departure from existing immigration laws and practices. If our estimate that refugees are currently being admitted into other countries at a rate of 80,000 a year is correct, and we are confident that it is conservative, and if the German estimate that three-eighths of the persons to be emigrated are wage-earners, it seems probable that wage-earners are already emigrating at a rate approximating 30,000 a year. On the one hand, current emigration includes a certain percentage, perhaps 10 to 15 per [Page 86] cent, of non-Jews and a further percentage of Jews over 45; on the other, the current estimated rate of emigration takes no account of mass settlement possibilities. It would not seem improbable that a 5-year period would be sufficient not only for the emigration of 150,000 wage-earners but for the emigration of most of their dependents as well.
- There will presumably be a considerable residue of wage-earners who for one reason or another will not be admissible into any country in the normal course of events and these must be provided for in mass settlement projects. This will not be easy as mass settlement under pioneering conditions will require a particularly capable type of emigrant, but it is believed that large scale mass settlement should be able to provide for this residue as well.
- The provisions for organizing emigration within Germany, with foreign participation, should have distinct value. It must be borne in mind, however, that our immigration laws would not permit the intervention of any agency between applicant and consul.
- The release of all, or nearly all, Jews from concentration camps would be a considerable achievement.
- The arrangements for the care of persons who are not to be emigrated are not definite and far short of what might be desired but are definitely better than present conditions.
- The setting up of a trust fund from existing Jewish property in Germany is something which, as indicated in our 802, December 21, 6 p.m.,33 would be most difficult for us to recognize in view of the implied sanction of the principle of confiscation. This difficulty might be overcome, however, if the individual were to retain title to the amount he had contributed to the fund, such title to cover his pro-rata share in such amounts as may eventually be transferred if any are. The limitations on the use of the trust fund do not appear objectionable.
- We assume that the words “traditional sphere” of the Haavarah system refers solely to Palestine.
- The permission for emigrants to leave without payment of their flight or personal effects taxes would be a further worthwhile achievement.
- The relationship of the Committee to the proposed outside purchasing agency, which may be very useful, will have to be worked out in London, but care should be taken in this connection to avoid active acceptance of the German program.
- The appointment of the third trustee would also involve active acceptance. We should not desire to see an American serve in this [Page 87] capacity even if individual contributors to the trust fund are permitted to retain title.
Rublee appears to have accomplished more in Berlin than we had reason to expect, and we wish to congratulate him and to express appreciation for the energy and determination with which he carried out his mission in Berlin.