840.48 Refugees/5363b: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Ambassador in the Soviet Union (Harriman)

554. From the War Refugee Board. Our circular airgram of January 2652 described the functions of the War Refugee Board, composed of the Secretaries of State, Treasury and War. This Board has been established by the President to take action for the immediate rescue and relief of the Jewish people of Europe and other victims of enemy persecution.

The Board is actively engaged in carrying out the policy of this Government as announced by the President, and is seeking the cooperation of all members of the United Nations in this tremendous task.

The Board is fully conscious of the great work which the Soviet Government has done to date in saving the lives of untold numbers [Page 1009] of refugees, including Jews, from Hitler who are rescued in the midst of battle from the jaws of the German army. At the same time the Board is convinced that if it could secure the cooperation of the Soviet Government in some of the projects on which this Government is working, the chances of saving many people from death would be greatly increased. In view of the outstanding record of the Soviet Government in this whole matter we are not suggesting that pressure be put on them to do more than they are now doing. We feel, however, that if the Soviet Government can be convinced of the fact that we are sincerely determined to do what we can to prevent the murder of the Jews and other persecuted peoples by Hitler, they may be prepared to cooperate in some of the programs which we have under consideration.

There are many ways in which the Soviet Government might be of assistance in connection with these programs. The representative of the War Refugee Board in Turkey, Ira Hirschmann, at the suggestion of Ambassador Steinhardt, has already discussed two specific problems with Soviet Ambassador Vinogradov in Turkey. Vinogradov was informed of our intention to exert pressure on Bulgaria and other satellite countries and was requested to take parallel action. Vinogradov was also informed of our efforts to get the Turkish Government to give permission for the use of a ship for evacuating refugees and was asked to support our request. Although Vinogradov agreed to speak to the Bulgarian Minister informally, he pointed out that on both of these matters he could not act formally except through Moscow. Vinogradov suggested that you should request the assistance of his Government on these two problems and he agreed to do likewise.

We feel that it is very important that you discuss this whole matter with the Soviet Government immediately. You should make clear the policy of this Government and discuss frankly the problems with which we are faced.

The following information concerning some of the things we are working on and some of the obstacles we have encountered is furnished for your information and use in connection with your discussions with the Soviet Government:

[Here follows the substance of second and third paragraphs of telegram 1812, March 10, to London, printed on page 1003.]

This cable has been repeated to Ambassador Steinhardt at Ankara. [War Refugee Board.]

  1. See footnote 22, p. 987.