The Under Secretary of State (Welles) to President Roosevelt

My Dear Mr. President: You will recall that the attached communication from the King of Greece23 was delivered to you recently by the Greek Minister, appealing for the relief of Greece and suggesting that you send an outstanding American citizen to the Near East, supplied with the necessary funds, to supervise the relief of Greece from that area.

The Greek Minister has informed me that he reported to his Government your intimation that Mr. Henry Morgenthau, Senior, might be entrusted with the assignment. The Minister has now been instructed by his Government to state that no one in Greece has forgotten the valuable and devoted services which Mr. Morgenthau rendered during the trying years of the influx of Greek refugees from Asia Minor.

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I attach for your consideration a suggested reply to the communication from King George II, which avoids any direct commitment regarding his appeal (1) for funds or (2) for the designation of an emissary. If, however, you desire to take some action now on these two questions, a more positive reply to the King would be possible.

I am inclined to believe that the appointment of a prominent American to act as your representative to investigate the question of according relief to occupied areas, notably Greece, would serve a useful purpose in convincing the residents of those areas of the American Government’s interest in their tragic condition and might also result in means being found to accord them more relief supplies than at present, without injury to the war effort. It might not be necessary for your representative to visit the Near East in person, at least for the present, since we already have considerable information regarding conditions in occupied areas and feasible means of relief which we could place readily at his disposal.

Faithfully yours,

Sumner Welles

Draft of Letter From President Roosevelt to the King of the Hellenes (George II)

My Dear King George: I have received Your Majesty’s communication of February 6, 1942, delivered to me by the Greek Minister in Washington, suggesting that an outstanding representative of the American people might be sent to the Near East to supervise measures for the relief of the suffering inhabitants of Greece.

As Your Majesty is doubtless aware from my recent letter to Mr. Tsouderos, the situation in Greece has moved the American people profoundly. The sufferings of civilian populations under Axis domination, and particularly the cruel hardships of your own country, are perhaps the most tragic of the many evils which Axis aggression has produced. The American people have not been lacking in their demonstrations of sympathy for human suffering in various parts of the world, from whatever cause, but their emotion for Greece at the present time is of an especial kind, resulting not only from the matchless example which Greece gave in its fight during five months, with its limited resources, against the attack of Italy and later of Germany, but also from the unequalled want to which the residents of Greece have been reduced.

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I have taken under urgent consideration the specific suggestions contained in Your Majesty’s communication, and I will write to you further with regard thereto. I realize how close this problem lies to your heart.

Very sincerely yours,

  1. Dated February 6, p. 736.