840.48 Refugees/5363c: Telegram

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

555. From the War Refugee Board. This telegram immediately follows Department’s previous of same date on same subject. The Board is convinced that there is an opportunity for actually moving many of these refugees out of enemy controlled areas in addition to the proposed plan designed to effect a change in the attitude as well as the actions of our enemies. In the localities close to the Black Sea and Turkey, it is believed by the Board, exists one of the most promising opportunities for actually accomplishing the rescue of such people. That there are considerable numbers of refugees in Bulgaria, Transniestria and Rumania is known. That arrangements can be made with the Turkish Government to receive refugees from these localities seems possible. It also appears to be possible that permission to leave Rumania will be granted by the Rumanian Government to a substantial number of these persons. The necessity for immediate means of transportation is imperative.

In order to evacuate approximately 1,000 children to Turkey from Constanza, the Board is endeavoring to arrange for a small Turkish vessel to proceed to Constanza. A report has been received from the Board’s representative in Turkey that there might be a possibility of chartering the S.S. Vatan, a small Turkish ship, if he would offer to the Turkish Government a guaranty that if the ship were lost it would be replaced. Such a guaranty was promptly offered by our Government. In our negotiations with the Turkish Government it is hoped the Russian Government may be of some assistance. The possibility of using Swedish ships for this purpose is also the subject of negotiations between this Government and the Swedish Government. You are requested to keep in mind during your discussions with the Soviet Government that the key to evacuations in the Black Sea areas appears to be this problem of transportation.

The finding of places of temporary havens of refuge to which may be moved persons now in enemy dominated European countries is one of the functions of the Board. The cooperation of the Governments of Turkey and Spain depends upon our ability to move to other places as quickly as possible refugees coming into those countries. To facilitate the entry of additional refugees into Spain preparations have been made to move those now there to a camp which has been established in North Africa.

Refugees are entering Palestine by way of Turkey. Requests have been made of the Turkish Government to relax its border and other controls and in other ways increase the flow of refugees through [Page 1011] Turkey from occupied territories. Oilers are being made by the Board to finance the establishment of reception camps to accommodate refugees entering Turkey and as quickly as possible the Board would arrange for their transport to other places.

It seems to the Board that it will be necessary to find at least temporary places of refuge in a number of places if as is planned evacuation of a substantial number of refugees can be effected. From negotiations with the Swiss Government it appears that, if a guarantee can be given that they will be removed after the war, Switzerland will accept refugee children now. Every effort is being made to provide Switzerland with assurances which will meet her requirements.

The possibility of evacuating large numbers of refugees would be greatly increased if the Soviet Government were prepared to immediately take refugees, Jewish and non-Jewish, who manage to reach neutral countries from enemy controlled territories and who could be given in the Soviet Union at least a temporary refuge after being transported across the Black Sea from the Balkan countries. It is possible that Switzerland and other countries might consider more favorably taking refugees now if the Soviet Government would give assurances that she would take refugees from those countries after the end of the war. In your negotiations with the Soviets make every endeavor to obtain their complete cooperation if it seems that they would even on a temporary basis be willing to accept such refugees.

You can understand from the foregoing, particularly taking into consideration the time and physical factors to be contended with, that a number of the obstacles which we are encountering could be solved with the aid of the Soviet Government. It will be greatly appreciated if you will give personal and prompt attention to this matter.

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