Memorandum of Conversation, by the Chief of the Division of European Affairs (Moffat)

Mr. Hamilton Fish Armstrong67 telephoned me from New York this afternoon. He said he had been lunching with the Mexican Ambassador at Paris, who was returning to his post duly instructed with regard to the admission to Mexico of Spanish refugees. These will include all those who cannot return to Spain for political reasons, the decision in each case to be made by a group of Spanish Republican officials of various shades, acting under the auspices of the Mexican Embassy in Paris. The numbers will probably run between 40,000 and 50,000.

When these refugees reach Mexico it will cost about $5,000,000 to place them, and various groups are supplying the necessary funds, land, equipment, et cetera. Thus the remaining problem is transportation. Part of the transportation will probably be British; there is a committee of Parliamentarians trying to arrange matters with a British Line running to Mexico. The rest of the transportation, the Ambassador hopes, will be American.

Mr. Armstrong asked whether I thought the Red Cross could undertake this through the Maritime Commission, or at least supervise it. I replied that my understanding was to the effect that Mr. Davis felt [Page 796] that resettlement was not a Red Cross function, and that it would be impossible to take up one refugee resettlement problem without being willing to assist in all. However, I could not speak for Mr. Davis, and thought that whether or not the Red Cross could appear in the picture, Mr. Davis could undoubtedly give some helpful advice.

Mr. Armstrong added that he was most interested in the Spanish refugees, not only for humanitarian reasons, but because the President’s Advisory Committee was being severely criticized because it was helping only Jews or Catholics. Besides, he felt that it would be greatly to our national interest to have these Spanish refugees in territory contiguous to us.

The Mexican Ambassador to France said that he had not had time to tell Mr. Daniels68 about his new instructions as the final decisions had only been made a few hours before he left.

I told Mr. Armstrong that I would at once call this conversation to the attention of the interested officers of the Department, and hoped that he would keep in touch with us.

Pierrepont Moffat
  1. Editor, Foreign Affairs.
  2. Josephus Daniels, American Ambassador in Mexico.