840.48 Refugees/40362/6

Memorandum by the Assistant Secretary of State (Long) to President Roosevelt 88

Attached is a proposed draft of a message for you to send to the Prime Minister in response to his 339.89

I believe I can confidently state that funds which have been made available out of your funds are still available in sufficient quantity to defray our share of the cost of rail transportation out of Spain and our share of the sea transportation from Portugal to the west coast of North Africa. So I shall not have to trouble you on that account.

However, it seems that the cost of maintenance of these persons in Africa will have to be arranged. It probably can be done partly through Lend Lease and partly through the use of military cots and tents supplied by the Army. There are certain other costs of an administrative nature and probably extending to certain items of maintenance which may have to be defrayed. Governor Lehman will be in charge of these phases of the operation and will continue in charge at least until the refugees can be removed from their place of temporary residence in Africa to some more permanent place of settlement. There are between 5,000 and 6,000 of these refugees with probably more to come. While the total bill for maintenance is indeterminable Governor Lehman feels that he should be assured of a sum which for different items and over an indefinite period may run to five hundred thousand dollars of United States funds.

In order to institute this program a few authorizations are necessary:

To ask Mr. Murphy to obtain from Generals Eisenhower and Giraud a definite location;
To Lend Lease to supply necessary items of food and supplies;
To the Army to supply tents, cots and pertinent equipment;
To allot to Governor Lehman $500,000, or as much thereof as may be necessary, to meet other administrative and maintenance costs.

The British will assume an equal part of the total cost.

In this connection there should be noted that the project to open a temporary residence on the Atlantic coast of North Africa (which is the subject matter of the Prime Minister’s cable but which is only one phase of this whole program) has been approved in principle by Generals Eisenhower and Giraud, by the Bermuda Conference and the Combined Chiefs of Staff89a and by the Department of State, but the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff have withheld their agreement.

The proposed telegram to the Prime Minister is based on the assumption that you will care to proceed with this broad policy and to authorize the directives necessary to its implementation.


Draft of Proposed Message to the British Prime Minister

This refers to your 339, June 30, 1943, regarding provision for refugees in North Africa.

I will set out the elements of the problem as I understand them:

There are at present an estimated five or six thousand stateless or enemy-nationality refugees in Spain to be moved, largely of the Jewish race.
I am asking Generals Eisenhower and Giraud to designate Mogador or some other place in French North Africa as a place of temporary residence for these refugees and others who may be able to escape from Axis territory into Spain. They have already agreed in principle to the establishment of such a place of temporary residence.
I will arrange for the transportation of these refugees by land from Spain to the selected port in Portugal for their embarkation.
You will arrange for their sea transportation from Portugal to a port in North Africa.
I will request the American military authorities to make available cots and tents in sufficient number to meet the emergency needs of the refugees arriving at the temporary place of residence.
I will also arrange that preparations will be begun immediately for a temporary reception center of more substantial character where [Page 324] the refugees can be housed and cared for until subsequent arrangements are made for their disposition which should be at the earliest possible moment.
The costs of the refugees’ transportation from Spain and their maintenance in the place of temporary residence until such time as a more permanent settlement is agreed upon will be borne equally by our two Governments.
The work of administration for the refugees at the temporary place of residence will be the responsibility of the Office of Foreign Relief and Rehabilitation Operations under Governor Lehman, with representatives of your Government cooperating and assisting.
I am in complete accord with the thought of the French military authorities in that area that both for political and military reasons it is essential to transfer the refugees, after their arrival at the temporary place of residence, to a place of more permanent settlement for the duration. In this connection the Department of State has just been informed by your Embassy here in response to conversations Lord Halifax has had with Mr. Myron Taylor that certain places, among them Tripolitania, Cyrenaica and Madagascar, are under active discussion and it appears not impossible that sites may be available there for the refugees. It is also my understanding that a limited number of the refugees may be admitted into Palestine.
The subsequent transportation of the refugees from the temporary place of residence to places of more permanent settlement and their continued care thereafter would be provided under the auspices and jurisdiction of the Executive Committee of the Intergovernmental Committee, the costs thereof to be underwritten jointly by the British and American Governments.

I trust that you will let me know at the earliest convenient moment that we are in complete accord when I shall issue the necessary directives to complement those which you will issue.

  1. Marginal note: “Myron Taylor agrees over phone. B. L.”
  2. June 30, p. 321.
  3. The statement that the Combined Chiefs of Staff had agreed in principle was incorrect. The differing views of the British Chiefs of Staff and the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff had been transmitted to the Department of State on May 7, 1943. See letter of that date, p. 299.