The Acting Secretary of State to the Ambassador in Spain (Hayes)
463. With reference to War Refugee Board, refer to Department’s no. 207 of January 25, 1944.30 In formulating a program of immediate action the Board has resolved that one of the projects which should be pushed with greatest speed is an effort to facilitate the evacuation of as many Jewish and other war refugees as possible from occupied areas to Spain. The Board understands that the movement of French refugees is well organized and functioning and that some thousands have already been transferred to North Africa. It also understands that arrangements are presently being made to transfer stateless refugees and those lacking protection of their government to North Africa.
The Board feels that the most feasible way of accomplishing this extremely urgent task is: (a) To remove from Spain as rapidly as possible refugees now there, thus making room for more and (b) To obtain from the Spanish Government the greatest possible relaxation of border and other controls and other action designed to encourage the entry of refugees into Spain.
With the object of increasing the movement of refugees from occupied areas through Spain to refuge elsewhere, the following concrete proposals have been agreed upon by the Board. (1) In view of the establishment of a camp in North Africa31 which is ready to receive refugees, a substantial number of refugees now in Spain can be moved to such camp and the transfer should be facilitated. (2) In order to take care of new refugees, particularly stateless refugees and those lacking the protection of their government, who will arrive in the future and to effect their removal from Spain, on an involuntary basis if necessary, the Spanish Government should be asked to maintain reception camps in which future arrivals may remain [Page 993] until their transfer to North Africa. As a basis for obtaining the necessary action by the Spanish Government they should be advised (a) that the War Refugee Board will make the necessary arrangements to finance the maintenance and support of such stateless and unprotected refugees as arrive in Spain in accordance with these arrangements until the refugees can be removed to North Africa, and (b) that the War Refugee Board will assume responsibility for arranging for the transfer to North Africa of stateless and unprotected refugees as rapidly as possible. In this connection, the Spanish Government may be reminded of the recent evacuation of refugees to Palestine and of arrangements presently being made for the removal of stateless refugees to the camp already established in North Africa. (3) The Spanish Government should be requested in the strongest manner possible to take effective steps to encourage the entry of more refugees into Spain. In addition to the relaxation of border controls and the taking of other actions, it will be extremely helpful if the Spanish Government will take steps to facilitate the spread of information to the occupied areas that Spain is prepared to grant asylum to refugees pending their removal to another country.
The foregoing commitments are not intended to replace in any way the activities or responsibilities of the French Committee of National Liberation with respect to the flow of French refugees through Spain.
The Department anxiously desires to support the foregoing program of the Board and you are requested at the earliest possible moment to approach the Spanish Government with a view to obtaining their agreement to the plan. Kindly report as soon as possible on the practical measures that will be necessary to put the proposed plan into operation in Spain, including the requirements of funds.
You will, of course, appreciate that these negotiations with the Spanish Government are on an entirely different level than the political and economic negotiations being carried on with that Government. This Government is simply addressing a humanitarian appeal to the Spanish Government rather than a request to take certain action favorable to us at some sacrifice to them. Accordingly, it is our desire that the proposed negotiations with respect to refugees should be carried to a conclusion rapidly and effectively without becoming entangled in other pending problems under discussion with the Spanish.
It is also important to keep in mind that it is the policy of this Government to move promptly to Camp Lyautey as many stateless and unprotected refugees as facilities permit. Accordingly, every effort should be made to encourage the voluntary migration to the [Page 994] Camp of the greatest possible number of eligible persons now in Spain. This evacuation operation should, of course, be executed as rapidly as possible.
Kindly report to the Department as soon as possible the progress that is being made in this matter.