840.48 Refugees/5060: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Ambassador in the United Kingdom (Winant)22

634. The President has instructed the Secretaries of State, Treasury and War to take action for the immediate rescue and relief of the Jews of Europe and other victims of enemy persecution. In an executive order issued January 2223 the President declared “it is the policy of this Government to take all measures within its power to rescue the victims of enemy oppression who are in imminent danger of death and otherwise to afford such victims all possible relief and [Page 988] assistance consistent with the successful prosecution of the war”. The order establishes special governmental machinery for executing this policy. It creates a War Refugee Board consisting of the Secretaries of State, Treasury and War.24 The Board is charged with direct responsibility to the President in seeing that the announced policy is carried out. The President indicated that while he would look directly to the Board for the execution of this policy, the Board would cooperate with the Intergovernmental Committee, UNRRA,25 and other interested international organizations. The President stated that he expected the cooperation of all members of the United Nations and other governments in carrying out this difficult but important task. He stated that the existing facilities of the State, Treasury and War Departments would be employed to furnish aid to Axis victims to the fullest extent possible. He stressed that it was urgent that action be taken to forestall the plot of the Nazis to exterminate the Jews and other persecuted minorities in Europe.

You should do everything possible to effectuate this policy of this Government, bearing in mind that time is of the essence. You should cooperate closely with all public and established private agencies who are active in your area in this field, aiding them in the development of coordinated programs and in the effectuation of integrated measures for the rescue, transportation, maintenance and relief of victims of enemy oppression, etc.

The communication facilities should be made freely available to these private agencies for all appropriate messages for carrying out the policy of this Government herein stated, keeping the War Refugee Board advised through the Department. You should give them every assistance in obtaining and verifying information.

You are requested to render an immediate report concerning the actual situation as it exists today in the country to which you are accredited. This report should include a full statement as to what is being done to rescue the Jews and other persecuted minorities from Hitler, including particularly (a) the extent to which these war refugees are permitted to enter the country to which you are accredited (b) the extent to which such country actually encourages and cooperates in their entry and (c) the extent to which such refugees are not able to enter such country because of the failure of such country to cooperate in their entry. This report should cover actual cases which have come to your attention involving refugees being turned back at the border and the reasons why such refugees were [Page 989] turned back. You should also report periodically on cases of this character which come to your attention in the future.

You should include in your report your recommendations as to what you feel this Government can do to effectuate with all possible speed the rescue and relief of the victims of enemy oppression, including particularly what can be done to make the government of the country to which you are accredited cooperate more fully in carrying out this policy. Your report should cover any special obstacles which you feel are interfering with the rescue and relief of these victims and your recommendations as to what can be done to remove these obstacles.

You are requested to approach the Government to which you are accredited, explain the policy expressed in the President’s Executive Order referred to above, and ascertain from such Government the extent to which it is prepared to cooperate.

Diplomatic and consular officers are instructed to do everything possible to carry out the policy expressed in the President’s Executive Order. This cablegram has been transmitted by telegram or airgram to all diplomatic and consular offices.

Repeat to consular offices under your jurisdiction.

  1. Repeated on the same date to Ankara (61), Bern (251), Lisbon (200), Madrid (207) and Stockholm (131). Sent on January 26, 7 p.m., as circular airgram to all other Missions.
  2. Executive Order 9417, 9 Federal Register 935; also printed in Department of State Bulletin, January 22, 1944, p. 95.
  3. President Roosevelt, in his letter of January 29 to the Secretary of the Treasury (Morgenthau), not printed, allocated $1,000,000 to the War Refugee Board from the President’s Emergency Fund for administration and other expenses of the Board.
  4. United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration.