840.48 Refugees/3–1645: Telegram

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

2732. Mason, Head of Refugee Dept of Foreign Office, informed Embassy on March 16 that Foreign Office had orally suggested to Intergovernmental Committee on refugees that it should press other member governments for voluntary contributions for 1945 operational expenditure. The following are the reasons given for this action on the part of the British Government:

The undertaking given by the American and British Governments at the Bermuda meeting13 to underwrite jointly IGC operational expenditure was a temporary measure designed to get relief under way. [Page 1153] It should not become a permanent measure nor should it be considered as such. Although IGC requested voluntary contributions last year none was forthcoming except certain contributions in kind, e.g. French permission for some refugees in France to engage in gainful employment. IGC operational expenditure has increased considerably this year with the liberation of Europe and British authorities envisage the possibility that annual operational expenditure may become many times greater in the future because of undertakings such as resettlement. This may eventually require the reorganization of the IGC on a broader basis with respect to source of funds for operational expenditure. The situation today is inequitable and will become worse. This the British cannot afford in view of their exchange position. (Mason intimated that it might be difficult to increase the British share of pounds 2 million for this year.) While Foreign Office believes that little may be obtained from pressing for voluntary contributions this year, such action will put other governments on notice that some change may be necessary and that matters cannot slide along on the basis that the American and British Governments will continue to bear the entire operational expenditure.

Mason wished to make it clear that the British Government is not trying to avoid any obligation undertaken by it and that it is keenly interested in maintaining the IGC in its effective operation.

Foreign Office hopes that the Department will agree to approach the IGC with a view to pressing for voluntary contributions. Foreign Office has requested Embassy to learn Department’s views. Please instruct.

  1. In April, 1943, the British and United States Governments held a conference in Bermuda to examine all possible methods of relieving the distress of those in Europe who were victims of Nazi aggression. For a joint communiqué issued by the participating delegations to the conference, see Department of State Bulletin, May 1, 1943, p. 388; for a report of the meeting, see ibid., May 22, 1943, p. 456; for documentation, see Foreign Relations, 1943, vol. i, pp. 134 ff.