840.48 Refugees/5014: Telegram

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

452. My letter of December 17.10 We raised with Foreign Office the instructions contained in Department’s 7946, December 1611 and have received from Foreign Office the following reply requesting Department’s agreement on terms of joint approach to Intergovernmental Committee director:12

“Please refer to that part of your letter to me of December 17 which deals with instructions received by the United States Embassy from the State Department to collaborate with the British Government in drawing up terms of reference to the Director of the Intergovernmental Committee in regard to the proposal that the Intergovernmental Committee should take over the care of civilian refugees in Switzerland whether Allied, stateless, or ex-enemy refugees.

“We have now consulted the various Departments concerned and would like to suggest for your agreement or comment the following terms of reference:

  • “1. The Intergovernmental Committee to be asked to be the authority to look after and be responsible for the care of stateless persons and ex-enemy refugees in Switzerland. Though the advice and help of the Intergovernmental Committee representative would undoubtedly be valuable regarding refugees, in general we feel that those of Allied nationality should be looked after by and be the responsibility of their respective governments. Our reason for this is that Allied Governments are most anxious to bear and are in fact bearing responsibility for their own refugees, looking upon them as potential supporters when their respective countries are liberated. There would, of course, be nothing against any Allied Government seeking the help or advice of the Committee in connection with its refugees but we should prefer ourselves not to disturb the existing practice.
  • 2. Any Swiss request for exceptional blockade facilities for the maintenance of refugees ought, we feel, to be addressed to His Majesty’s Government and the United States Government by the Swiss Government itself. The Ministry of Economic Warfare is, of course, the Department here to whom communications on this subject are addressed and the question could conveniently be handled in conjunction with the Economic Warfare Division of your Embassy. The Intergovernmental Committee could not conveniently we think be the authority to deal with this matter which has to be handled within the framework of our general economic policy toward Switzerland. We agree, however, that the Intergovernmental Committee would be a [Page 984] useful source of information regarding the number and needs of the refugees.
  • 3. If it is necessary to help the Swiss financially, a particularly difficult problem in present circumstances, the Intergovernmental Committee should be the channel through which financial help to be provided by both our Governments in consultation and mutual agreement can conveniently be given.

“I should be grateful if you would let us know whether your Government agrees with these points and whether a joint approach by the United States and British Governments can be made to the Director of the Intergovernmental Committee to take over refugees in Switzerland on these terms.”

  1. Not found in Department files.
  2. Foreign Relations, 1943, vol. i, p. 392.
  3. Herbert W. Emerson.