191. Aide-Mémoire From the Austrian Embassy to the Department of State1
As a consequence of the tragic events in Hungary more than 25.000 refugees have, within a few days, crossed the Austrian frontiers and have found shelter in Austria. In view of the nature of the fighting as well as of the incredible sufferings in Hungary it is to be expected that the stream of refugees will continue and that their number will increase considerably.
Austria has during the last decade given shelter to more than half a million refugees, about 190.000 of whom are still in this country. Just as in the case of all these earlier refugees, Austria in these days is conscious of her obligations imposed by humanitarian principles and she readily grants asylum to all refugees in accordance with the convention on refugees. These refugees are crossing the Austrian frontiers without any belongings, partly sick and wounded, accompanied by their wives and children. Austria assumes a considerable burden in taking care of these refugees.
The Austrian Federal Government notes with satisfaction that a number of states have already in the first days declared themselves ready to share these burdens with Austria by accepting refugees in their countries and by contributing money and relief donations. In view of the great number of refugees that have come to Austria and of [Page 458] those that are still to be expected, the Austrian Federal Government, however, considers it necessary that all states who share the belief in the principles of humanity continue to contribute to the burdens thus arising, in proportion to their economic possibilities. The Austrian Federal Government, therefore, urgently requests all these states to facilitate the fulfilment of this task. The Austrian Federal Government believes that the following measures would primarily constitute most effective help for the refugees.
- The rapid admission of refugees to the various countries. The Austrian Federal Government, however, would like to point out that a prior examination of the human and economic qualification of the refugees as a condition for their admission, as well as an admission of only certain age groups, or an admission subject to other qualifications would not constitute effective assistance. Austria cannot examine the economic or human qualifications for each refugee to remain in Austria, but grants shelter to whoever asks for asylum. It is, therefore, only just that the other states should admit refugees in the same varying composition as they are being admitted by Austria. In particular it should be avoided that families be separated by admitting for immigration only ablebodied and younger persons.
- Financial contributions. The accounting of the amounts contributed by the different governments will be made under the control of the Austrian Court of Accounting (Rechnungshof) which is responsible to the Austrian parliament. The Austrian Federal Government will in time submit a report on the use of the money.
- Contribution of various relief goods such as foodstuff, clothes etc. Contributions of such relief goods should, however, only be made after prior consultation with the Austrian Federal Government in order to avoid surplus in one field and scarcity in another: direct contact may be established with the Federal Ministry of Interior, which will act as a central point for such relief shipments. The use and distribution of those relief goods will also be accounted for in time.
- Source: Department of State, Central Files, 764.00/11–1556. Ambassador Karl Gruber presented this aide-mémoire to Deputy Under Secretary of State for Administration Loy W. Henderson. Also present was Tyler Thompson, Coordinator of Hungarian Refugee Policies and Activities. Henderson stated that the United States did not intend to separate families and would administer its procedures as liberally as the law permitted. (Memorandum of conversation by Horace G. Torbert, Jr., November 15; Ibid.)↩