840.48 Refugees/5425: Telegram

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

1020. I handed to Vyshinski59 on March 21 a memorandum setting forth the policy of the United States Government as contained in the first paragraph of Department’s circular of January 26, 7 p.m.60 The memorandum also called attention to the cooperation solicited of the Soviet Government in requesting an assurance of safe conduct for the Tari (my 935 March 26 [20], 6 p.m.61) and continued: “similar [Page 1017] specific problems will doubtless arise in the future, in the solution of which the assistance of the Soviet Union will be sought”. The memorandum concluded with a reference to the effect that the United States War Refugee Board was cognizant of the great work which the Soviet Government had done in saving the lives of many refugees and would appreciate the cooperation of the Soviet Government in its work.

I also stated orally that it was my desire to explore the manner in which the Soviet and the United States Governments might work together on this question after he had studied the memorandum. I referred to the parallel action both nations had taken and could take in endeavoring to impress on Germany and satellite countries that they would be held accountable for inhuman actions against the Jews and other similar groups. I stated that such pressure on satellite countries might assist in the evacuation of refugees from Rumania, Bulgaria, and Hungary. I said that with the advance of the Red armies the Black Sea area offered promising possibilities for the accomplishment of the rescue of refugees and referred in this respect to my recent request for expeditious consideration of the Tari case.

In conclusion I said that the matter was very close to the President and that public sentiment in the United States was supporting my Government in doing everything possible for these unfortunate people. I added that by working together in this matter, especially if this collaboration were publicly known, a great deal of good effect would result in both the United States and the Soviet Union.

Vyshinski appeared sympathetic to my approach. He said he would like to study the memorandum and then discuss the question further with me.

The Department will note that I did not touch specifically upon several of the points raised in the Department’s 554 and 555 of March 11, 7 p.m. regarding (a) the Soviet position with respect to temporary refuge on Soviet soil for refugees transported across the Black Sea from Balkan countries, and (b) an indication of Soviet willingness to accept after the war refugees admitted temporarily into Switzerland and other countries during the war. I felt that these questions can be more appropriately dealt with after a general agreement in principle is reached for cooperative action and perhaps on the basis of such specific problems as may arise in the handling of which the cooperation of the Soviet Government is desired.

  1. Andrey Yanuaryevich Vyshinski, People’s Vice Commissar for Foreign Affairs of the Soviet Union.
  2. See footnote 22, p. 987.
  3. Not printed; it reported Ambassador Harriman’s memorandum to the People’s Commissar for Foreign Affairs of the Soviet Union (Molotov), requesting safe conduct for the Turkish ship Tari to evacuate refugees from Constanza (840.48 Refugees/5396).