840.48 Refugees/5260: Telegram

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

2303. The following refers to our 1503, February 29 and 1812, March 10 partially presenting the steps which the War Refugee Board is prepared to take or has taken in order to implement the announced policies of the Board. The following more detailed statement is for the British and refers to remittances of funds and similar transactions which following the War Refugee Board’s recommendation have been authorized.

Relief and Specific Rescue Projects

Authorization has been granted to a number of private organizations in the United States to carry on in occupied Europe evacuation and relief operations. There have been issued by the Treasury Department, following the Board’s recommendation, licenses granting to the representatives of these organizations in Switzerland permission to finance, by the acquisition of requisite local currency if necessary from persons in enemy territory against payment in free exchange, their operations and to carry on with persons in enemy territory such communications as may be necessary. The position has been taken by the Board, the State and Treasury Departments that the main consideration in those cases is the saving of lives and that this is paramount to the possibility that there may become available in enemy [Page 1020] territory certain amounts of free exchange. The following are among the relief and rescue projects execution of which has been facilitated by the Board and which have been sponsored by private organizations:

1. Evacuation to Switzerland from France.

Evacuation of Abandoned Jewish Children. A license has been issued for one rescue program which involves abandoned children in hiding in France numbering several thousand who may presently be deported to Poland. Efforts are being made to sustain and keep alive these children in France, but until the Swiss Government has some assurance that the children will be removed after the end of hostilities they cannot be brought into Switzerland in large numbers. A proposal has been made by the Board that this Government give assurances to the Swiss that American visas will be granted to 4,000 children from France entering Switzerland and that renewals as necessary will be granted for these visas.
Removal of Political and Christian Refugees and Scholars. The Board has also taken steps to facilitate the operations being carried out by several private organizations designed to rescue and give relief to political and Christian refugees and scholars who have been unable to leave France. Licenses were issued on the recommendation of the Board by the Treasury to make available funds in Switzerland to use in carrying forward this program.
The Program of the World Jewish Congress. The World Jewish Congress, with the aid of the Board, has worked out a program to evacuate refugees into North Africa, Spain and Switzerland from Rumania and France. Licenses authorizing the necessary operations up to a total cost of $100,000 of which amount $25,000 has already been sent to Switzerland have been issued by the Treasury Department.

2. Evacuation to Hungary from Poland.

There was worked out between the War Refugee Board and the Union of Orthodox Rabbis of the United States and Canada a plan to evacuate Jews to Hungary from Poland. There were reported to be persons in Hungary in a position to aid refugees in crossing into Hungary across the Polish borders where a large Jewish community was willing to help the refugees and aid them to become absorbed into the economy of Hungary. Authorization has been granted to the Union to communicate with and transmit funds to these persons. There has been sent $100,000 to Switzerland to meet the requirements of this plan.

3. Program for Feeding Internees in Croatia, Czechoslovakia, Hungary and Rumania.

The Intergovernmental Committee has been informed by the International Red Cross of an urgent need for funds to purchase food stuffs for distribution to internees in Czechoslovakia, Rumania, [Page 1021] Croatia and Hungary. After an approach made by the Board $100,000 was provided at once by a large private organization in the United States. This sum has been remitted under Treasury Department license to Switzerland which permits the buying of the required food stuffs not only in neutral countries but in Rumania and Hungary as well.

4. Plans for Relief of Refugees in Shanghai.

Pursuant to licenses granted by the Treasury Department at the request of the Board to two private organizations, relief is presently being administered to 10,000 stranded refugees in Shanghai. By these licenses authorization is given for the borrowing of funds in Shanghai against a promise of reimbursement after the end of the war.