548.G1/53: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Ambassador in the United Kingdom ( Winant )

2631. Department has received following telegrams from American delegation at Bermuda:

“(No. 133, April 23, 4 p.m.) The American and British delegates agree that some assurance must be given to neutral states in regard to the eventual repatriation of those refugees received by these states. There will be two categories of such persons. First, those who are nationals of Allied Governments and, second, those who are nationals of enemy governments. It would be possible for separate declarations to be issued, similar to the Polish,31 which might cover those persons in the first category. However, some special declaration is necessary in connection with the repatriation of enemy nationals.

It is obviously impossible for the Intergovernmental Committee to issue such a statement and therefore the situation can be met adequately only by the issuance of a joint declaration by the governments concerned. The delegates have agreed on a formula which will be transmitted in my next telegram. This declaration will also be submitted by the British delegates to their Foreign Office. It is suggested that the British and American Governments give earnest consideration to the possibility of approaching the other governments concerned in order that the declaration may be issued in the near future.

(No. 134, April 23, 5 p.m.) Following is text of proposed joint declaration: ‘The Belgian, Czechoslovak, Greek, Luxemburg, Netherlands, Norwegian, Polish, Soviet, United Kingdom, United States and Yugoslav Governments recognize with gratitude the humanitarian contributions made toward the solution of the refugee problem by those neutral states which accept and preserve those people fortunate [Page 166] enough to escape across their borders from areas where [their]32 lives and liberty are in danger on account of their race, religion or their political beliefs. They understand that this action often increases the difficulties already caused by the war within these states. These burdens may, of course, be borne under emergency conditions and for limited periods. It cannot be expected that these countries, some of which are already overcrowded, should maintain these people for an indefinite period.

The above-mentioned Governments hereby declare that [they will] at the termination of this war, admit to their territories all of their nationals who may have been displaced by the war into other countries. They further declare that it is a part of the settled policy of their Governments to ensure such conditions in the territories at present subject to disturbances caused by the war as will enable all such persons, of whatever nationality, to return to their homes at the end of the War.’ ”

Following reply is being sent:

“We are completely in accord with the idea of issuing some such joint statement as proposed regarding the repatriation of refugees. This was contemplated by us as indicated in Item C of our proposed agenda for your conference. However, the wording of the statement will require careful consideration by us and the British before presentation to the other Governments for their acceptance in order to minimize controversial issue as might arise, for example, between the Polish and Soviet Governments. For instance, we think that the second sentence of the final paragraph of the proposed declaration as given in your 134 might well refer exclusively to ‘enemy territories’ and to ‘persons, of whatever nationality displaced therefrom’ who are to be returned to their homes.

This telegram is being repeated to our Embassy at London for communication to the British Government with an invitation for suggestion as to the manner in which the other Governments should be approached. Once agreement with the British Government has been reached on specific language, we would be glad to participate in a joint approach to the other Governments or to have the British Government approach them in our name as well as their own.”

Please take action as indicated in last paragraph of above reply and telegraph report as soon as practicable.

  1. Vol. iii, p. 344.
  2. In telegram No. 230, May 10, 7 p.m., to the Ambassador in the Soviet Union, p. 178, the word “their” was inserted here.