840.48 Refugees/2879

The Chargé in the Dominican Republic (Lawton) to the Secretary of State

No. 1010

Sir: I have the honor to report that an officer of the Legation2 had occasion recently, on a trip to the northern section of the Republic, to visit Sosúa and obtain information concerning that settlement, which has been incorporated in the enclosed monograph.3

Mr. Anderson’s conclusions, which are based on a careful analysis of what he saw and heard, are as follows: An unsatisfactory organizational set-up at Sosúa seems to be the most immediate issue. Already Mr. Leon Falk, Jr., American industrialist and President of the Dominican Republic Settlement Association, has indicated dissatisfaction with the way things are going; and it is now reported that he has resigned. The ostensible reason for this action as given out by DORSA is his inability to continue this work in addition to his new, war-time position with the Coordinator’s Office in Washington. Nevertheless, there seems to be more to it than just that.

The arrival in the Dominican Republic on a visit of inspection on March 12, 1942 of Dr. Joseph H. Rosen, DORSA’s Vice President and chairman of the Executive Committee, probably reflects at least to some degree the apprehensions of the parent organization in New York. Dr. Rosen’s even greater disinclination than Sosúa’s director, Mr. David J. Schweitzer, to answer direct questions with direct answers, however, has not contributed much toward clarifying the situation. In particular as regards finances, Dr. Rosen was reluctant to speak freely. There are strong indications that there may be an imminent shake-up in the administrative personnel at Sosúa.

As to subversive elements, there have been a number of scarehead reports. Most of these are absurd and can simply be disregarded. The possibility of a certain number of Axis agents working within the ranks of the settlers cannot, of course, be ruled out entirely. However, to date there is no concrete evidence on the subject.

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What such agents would be able to accomplish as? long as; they remained in the settlement is difficult to say, apart from propaganda work such as poisoning the minds of; the legitimate refugees who are unquestionably vastly in the majority. As to the latter, the German national origin group might bear particular watching.

How fertile a field for subversive propaganda Sosúa might ultimately prove to be, will be definitely demonstrated only in the event that a crisis of a political or international nature should materialize. The lack of discipline that is patent in Sosúa, however, does not help this situation. The 50-odd settlers (including families) who were discharged from Sosúa, mostly evicted because they were considered trouble makers, and who are now living principally in Ciudad Trujillo under little or no surveillance, offer an entirely different problem.

Apart from the settlers themselves, the important consideration as regards refugees and their relationship to DORSA is the fact that a number of persons have entered the Dominican Republic under DORSA auspices who have not come as settlers for Sosúa. Several classifications, other than settlers, have been given these groups (Maintenance Trust Accounts, “friends” of the Joint Distribution Committee, under the classification of “Garden City settlers,” the Joint Distribution Committee’s employees in Europe, etc.), virtually the only requirements for acceptance having been of a financial nature, plus somebody’s recommendation. In underwriting cases such as these a situation developed which could have made the infiltration, of Axis agents into the Dominican Republic under the DORSA aegis a very simple matter.

Whether or not advantage of this situation has been taken by the German Government, and, if so, the extent of that advantage, is difficult to determine at this writing. It is hoped that a clearer concept of this situation may be obtained from an analysis of the material that is being gathered by the Legation in connection with a basic refugee report now under preparation.

Respectfully yours,

Edward P. Lawton
  1. Edward Anderson.
  2. Not printed.