840.48 Refugees/1–645: Telegram

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

135. To Winant and Mann from Department and War Refugee Board. You are requested to inform the British Government that the discussions referred to in Department’s No. 8780 of October 21, 1944,9 have been continuing. The discussions originating in various ransom proposals have changed in recent weeks to a proposal by the Swiss participants that in principle, in return for the halting of the extermination of Jews in German hands, relief supplies might be made available for distribution under International Red Cross supervision to keep surviving Jews alive. In order to have something tangible with which to prolong the negotiations and thus gain more precious time, the representatives of the Swiss Jewish Community conducting the negotiations have requested the transfer to Switzerland of twenty million Swiss francs from private American Jewish sources. This Government has just authorized the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee to transfer the sum of 20,000,000 Swiss francs to Switzerland upon condition that no part of the fund will be expended or committed for expenditure without the express prior approval of this Government.

You will be kept fully advised of any further significant developments.

The foregoing has also been transmitted to Moscow.10

  1. Not printed; the Department advised the Embassy that discussions had recently taken place on the German-Swiss border between representatives of Jewish groups in Budapest, accompanied by reputed Gestapo agents, and Swiss citizens representing the Swiss Jewish community in an effort to possibly forestall the continued deportation and extermination particularly of Hungarian and Slovakian Jews. No agreements or commitments had been made or authorized. This telegram was repeated to Moscow as 2484, October 20, 1944, 7 p.m. (840.48 Refugees/10–444).
  2. As telegram 35.