840.48 Refugees/3633

The Secretary of State to President Roosevelt

My Dear Mr. President: You asked about the proposed Ottawa conference to consider the refugee problem. The suggestion came about in the following way:

On January 20 the British Government submitted an aide-mémoire reviewing Great Britain’s activity in helping Jewish refugees, making some inquiry as to what the United States could do in addition to what it had done, and suggesting that the matter was essentially a United Nations problem which might be dealt with in a United Nations conference.

We replied under date of February 25, reviewing what the United States had done, expressing our deep interest in the problem of racial, religious and political persecution and suggesting instead of a United Nations conference that the Executive Committee of the Intergovernmental Committee on Refugees, which you will remember was the product of the Evian Conference, be used as the instrumentality for the work, partly because it already existed, and further suggesting that a preliminary conference between the United States and Great Britain be held in Ottawa for the purpose of developing the possible field of action of that Committee.

In suggesting such a conference it was thought that it would be preferable to have the coordinated activity of the American and British Governments as a guide to the contemplated work of the Executive Committee of the Intergovernmental Committee.

I am enclosing copies of the British aide-mémoire and of our reply.55

Faithfully yours,

Cordell Hull
  1. Ante, pp. 134 and 140, respectively.