840.48 Refugees/1–945: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Chargé in Switzerland (Huddle)11

127. The following for Huddle and McClelland is WRB 356. In view of well-known German practice of exterminating Jews surviving in any area previous to its evacuation, Department and WRB consider it necessary once more to draw attention of Swiss and Intercross authorities [Page 1122] to the danger faced by the Jewish survivors in German-controlled territory.

Accordingly, it will be appreciated if you will visit newly appointed Swiss Foreign Minister12 and President of Intercross,13 and urge that continued efforts be made from now on to keep the surviving victims of Nazi persecution alive during the coming stages of hostilities in Europe. You should specifically mention in this connection the three largest concentrations of Jews in Axis territory known to exist, viz. Lodz with 60,000 to 80,000 inmates, Theresienstadt with 40,000 to 60,000 inmates, and camps near Vienna with 18,000 inmates, and you should also mention any other localities or regions where Jews are believed by you to survive.

In your conferences with Swiss Foreign Minister and Intercross President it should be made clear that this Government considers that frequent and extended visits of Swiss Consuls and Intercross delegates to places and regions where Jews are concentrated constitute one of the most effective means of preventing their further extermination. This method proved its efficacy in Budapest where, thanks to the presence of Swiss and Intercross personnel, many lives appear to have been saved.

Furthermore, you should emphasize to Foreign Minister and Intercross President the mounting evidence of confusion among local German officials and their increasing accessibility to psychological pressure seeking to dissuade them from executing extermination policies ordered by certain German authorities, and urge that full advantage be taken of this state of mind in the interest of saving lives, through unofficial as well as official channels.

More particularly, in view of German consent to permit Intercross inspection and care for Hungarian Jews engaged in forced labor in Germany and German-occupied territory (enclosure 1 to your despatch 10132 of December 614), please request immediate and continuing Intercross action to safeguard lives of this largest group of Jews surviving under German rule.

Please endeavor to make clear to Swiss and Intercross that the activities suggested above should be actively pursued as long as the danger continues.

Please advise Department and WRB of Swiss and Intercross reaction.

[Page 1123]

The following from WRB for McClelland:

It would be helpful if you inquired at frequent intervals what specific action Swiss and Intercross are taking to carry out the above suggestions.

In view of the situation as outlined above and in view of your recent reports indicating effectiveness of publicity and other forms of psychological pressure upon German officials, you are requested to make special efforts through all channels available to you to increase such pressure with a view to safeguarding the lives of the surviving victims of Nazi persecution.

  1. Sent also to Stockholm, as telegram 106, January 19, 8 p.m.
  2. Max Petitpierre.
  3. Charles J. Burckhardt, President of the International Red Cross.
  4. Not printed; enclosure 1 was a note from the Swiss Foreign Office dated November 25, 1944, which contained a reply from the Hungarian Foreign Office to an American message concerning the removal of Jews from Budapest to punitive work camps in the provinces (840.48 Refugees/12–644).