501.BB Balkan/6–2348: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Embassy in Greece

us urgent

838. Quoted below are texts of formal statement and supplementary remarks by Dept spokesman on Grk child removal program which will be released to press 1100 hours EDST June 24. Athens, Paris and London pls inform respective FonOffs and release to local press. Belgrade, Sofia, Bucharest, Budapest, Praha, Warsaw and Moscow are authorized bring informally to attention respective FonOffs at their discretion. Subsequent report on any local reactions appreciated.

Similar statement being released simultaneously in London by UK Govt. French Emb Washington being informed with suggestion that French Govt may also desire issue communiqué along same lines.

[Page 250]

“The United States Government noted with grave concern the findings of the United Nations Special Committee on the Balkans, adopted May 21, 1948,1 regarding the removal of a large number of children from the guerrilla-infested areas of Greece to Albania, Bulgaria, Yugoslavia and certain other countries with the approval and assistance of the Governments of those countries. It observed especially that in some instances the children were removed as the result of force or threats directed against their families by the Greek guerrillas.

“This report was communicated through UN channels to the Governments of Albania, Bulgaria, Yugoslavia, Rumania, Hungary, Czechoslovakia and Poland in order to discourage the further deportation of Greek children and bring about the return of those already removed. On the UN Committee’s recommendation, the Greek Government also approached these Governments on June 2, proposing the direct discussion of arrangements for the repatriation of the children.

“The United States Government earnestly hopes that the Governments thus addressed will make available without further delay full and factual information on any Greek children in their respective territories and promptly arrange for the repatriation of those who were separated from their families by force or the threat of force. Unsubstantiated allegations that the children were removed with the consent of their parents or for humanitarian reasons cannot be regarded as satisfactory in the light of the UN Committee’s findings and its conclusion that ‘the protracted retention of these children would be contrary to the accepted moral standards of international conduct.’”

Supplementary remarks “Replies to the United Nations and Greek Government requests that the children be returned to Greece have been received so far only from Poland and Hungary. The Polish reply of June 9 to the Greek request denied that there are any Greek children on Polish territory.

“On June 7 the Hungarian Government rejected the Greek request for the repatriation of Greek children in Hungary, claiming that the children involved are ‘orphans’ sheltered in accordance with ‘humanitarian principles’ and that the absence of diplomatic relations precludes direct contact in any case with the Government of Greece. This reply is manifestly inadequate. The allegation that the children are ‘orphans’ is unsupported by any evidence or details and is at variance with previous Hungarian statements. On April 7 and 8, the Hungarian press announced the arrival in Budapest of 840 Greek children, whose parents were said to be ‘fighters for freedom’ in Greece, and stated that 2,000 more were expected soon. Since then, Hungarian authorities have requested foreign Red Cross assistance in caring for 2,500 Greek children. It is difficult to understand the ‘humanitarianism’ of harboring foreign children of uncertain family status without having the means to care for them, and of refusing to discuss their repatriation because of political considerations.”

Sent Athens 838, Paris 2247, London 2372, Belgrade 325, Sofia 395, Budapest 630, Prague 874, Warsaw 389, Moscow 710.

  1. For text, see United Nations, Official Records of the General Assembly, Third Session, Supplement No. 8, p. 29.