Rescue in the Holocaust by Diplomats - Hiram Bingham, IV
Hiram Bingham: Historic State Department Documents re Immigration
Appendix 50: US State Department Visa Policy Chronology
February 5, 1917
US Congress passes Comprehensive Immigration Act of 1917. It restricts immigrants who are “likely to become public charges” (LPC). A special provision of this law exempts “persons fleeing persecution because of religious faith” [Jews] from taking the mandatory literacy exam. World War I virtually sweeps from American consciousness the old belief in unrestricted immigration.
May 26, 1924
The Immigration Act of 1924, also called the Johnson-Reed Bill, the National Origins Act, signed into law, stipulates annual immigration cap at 164,667 persons, or 2% of each Caucasian nationality as determined by the census of 1890. This act will still be in force in 1940-1941, with slight amendments. US consuls in Europe are required to follow this law. This is important because the decision to grant visas to aliens is placed in the hands of consular officers rather than immigration officers at US ports of entry. Under Section 24, “The Commissioner General, with the approval of the Secretary of Labor, shall prescribe the rules and regulations for the enforcement of the provisions of this Act; but all such rules and regulations, insofar as they relate to the administration of this Act by consular officers, shall be prescribed by the Secretary of State on the recommendation of the Secretary of Labor.”
July 1, 1929
New US immigration quota is set at 153,714. It sets an annual quota based on the census of 1920. It severely limits immigration from southern and eastern Europe. Immigration from Poland, Russia and Germany is greatly limited. The Polish quota goes from 30,977 visas in 1921 to 6,524 in 1924.
September 8, 1930
US Immigration Law of 1917 is enforced by the Hoover administration to limit immigration to the US. As a result of the depression, it strictly enforces the “likely to become a public charge” clause. It directs consular officials “before issuing a visa…to pass judgment with particular care on whether the applicant may become a public charge and if the applicant cannot convince the officer that it is not probable, the visa will be refused.” Immigrants must have funds and produce affidavits from relatives in the US. The demand for visas drops by 75%. 241,000 immigrate to the United States in 1930.
President Hoover states, with regard to the decline in US immigration: “With the growth of democracy in foreign countries, political persecution has largely ceased. There is no longer a necessity for the United States to provide an asylum for those persecuted because of conscience.” Later in 1932, the American Federation of Labor states: “There is not a country in the world where there is not religious or political persecution.”
November 8, 1932
Franklin Delano Roosevelt elected President of the US by a landslide.
More than 52,000 Jews leave Germany in the first year of the Nazi government. There are 37,000 German Jews traveling who remain abroad.
Cyrus Adler, president of the American Jewish Committee (AJC), tries to persuade US Secretary of State to intervene on behalf of persecuted German Jews.
March 4, 1933
Franklin D. Roosevelt inaugurated as 32nd President of the United States. Roosevelt appoints Cordell Hull as Secretary of State and Sumner Wells as Assistant Secretary of State.
US Secretary of State Cordell Hull waves police certificate requirement for immigrants coming from Nazi Germany. This is intended to protect immigrants from reprisals from the Nazi government.
December 27, 1935
James MacDonald, High Commissioner for Refugees of the League of Nations, issues a scathing report and resigns in protest over the failure of the League to help Jews. MacDonald is concerned about the complete indifference to the plight of refugees worldwide.
League of Nations calls for a conference on the refugee crisis. US Secretary of State Cordell Hull advises Roosevelt that the US should not participate.
Hiram “Harry” Bingham, IV assigned to the US consulate in Marseilles, France. He is vice consul in charge of the visa section.
March 13, 1938
As a result of the Anschluss, the Roosevelt administration combines both the German and Austrian quotas together.
April 14, 1938
Rescue and relief organizations meet to “undertake a preliminary consideration of the most effective manner in which private individuals and organizations within the United States can cooperate with this government in the work to be undertaken by the International Committee which will be shortly created to facilitate the emigration of political refugees from Austria and Germany.” This committee becomes the Presidential Advisory Committee on Political Refugees (PACPR).
May 16, 1938
The President’s Advisory Committee on Political Refugees (PACPR) meets at the US State Department and appoints James G. MacDonald as Chairman and Samuel Cavert as its Secretary.
July 6-15, 1938
Representatives from 32 countries and 39 private organizations, 21 of which are Jewish, meet at Evian, France, to discuss international refugee policies. All of the participating countries refuse to help or let in more Jewish refugees. The US does nothing to help refugees. There is a saying among Jews in Europe: “The world is made up of two types of countries: the kind where Jews could not live and the kind where Jews could not enter.” The lack of support for Jewish refugees signals to Hitler that the world is unconcerned with Jewish refugees.
The US State Department declares, “No country would be expected to make any changes in its immigration legislation.”
President Roosevelt meets with State Department officials to discuss the refugee crisis. State Department issues directive to US consuls to issue fewer visas.
November 9-10, 1938
Kristallnacht (Night of Broken Glass).
November 17, 1938
The British ambassador to the United States in Washington meets with the Undersecretary of State, Sumner Welles, and offers to allow 32,500 German Jews to come to Great Britain. Welles refuses the offer.
November 18, 1938
President Roosevelt announces visitors’ visas for approximately 15,000 refugees will be extended. This is in response to the Kristallnacht pogroms.
December 27, 1938
Presidential Executive Order 8029 is signed into law. It requires certain documents to be submitted for immigration to the US. This is later superseded by Executive Order 8430, signed on June 4, 1940.
Between 1933 and 1939, 14,000 anti-Jewish laws are passed in Germany, Austria and Czechoslovakia.
300,000 Germans, 90% of them Jewish, apply for visas to the United States.
US admits only 90,000 immigrants in 1939.
60 anti-alien proposals are introduced into the US Congress in 1939. These proposed laws are supported by so-called patriotic and nativist organizations. American public opinion polls indicate that opinion against changing immigration laws to favor refugees goes from 67% in 1938 to 83% in 1939.
January 21, 1939
The French government opens first concentration camp for foreigners and Jewish refugees in the district of Mende.
February 9, 1939
The Wagner-Rogers bill is introduced into the US Congress. It proposes to allow 10,000 refugee children under 15 years of age to be admitted to the US in 1939-1940. The Nonsectarian Committee for German Refugee Children lobbies for this legislation. They propose that refugee children be taken care of with private money and assistance. The bill is supported by Eleanor Roosevelt, Secretary of the Interior Harold Ickes, Frances Perkins, Francis Biddle, and former US President Herbert Hoover. Due to anti-refugee feelings and pressure groups, the bill is stalled and eventually put aside.
After the Spanish Civil War ends, thousands of anti-Franco Republican soldiers of the International Brigade flee to southern France. More than 70,000 refugees enter the Bouches du Rhône region of southern France.
The US recognizes Franco’s Nationalist government.
September 1, 1939
Germany invades Poland. World War II begins.
State Department Order #810 establishes a Special Division “to handle special problems arising out of the disturbed conditions in Europe” (War Problems Division).
September 6, 1939
State Department Order #813 appoints Breckinridge Long Special Assistant in the Department of State in charge of Special War Problems Division.
October 16, 1939
The Intergovernmental Committee meets in Washington to discuss the refugee crisis. FDR calls for a major plan to resettle Jewish refugees from Europe into a “supplemental national home.” A number of major proposals are submitted to Roosevelt. Because of Roosevelt’s indifference and lack of attention, no plan is adopted.
President Roosevelt appoints Breckinridge Long as Assistant Secretary of State for Special Problems. Long supervises 23 of the 42 divisions of the State Department. Among his duties is overseeing the visa section, civilian internees, overseas relief, prisoners of war, immigration and refugee policies. From the outset of his appointment, Long is opposed to helping refugees escape Nazi Germany and its occupied territories. Long claims that refugees entering the country pose a major security risk for the United States. This, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary. Long and his associates in the State Department implement anti-Jewish immigration policies. This policy lasts until the creation of the War Refugee Board in January 1944. Further, Long exploits divisions among American Jewish groups. He states in his diary, “there is no cohesion, nor any sympathetic collaboration—rather rivalry, jealousy and antagonism…”
Roosevelt submits a list of 200 people to the State Department to be given special consideration, i.e., emergency visas.
February 16 and 23, 1940
Assistant Secretary of State Adolph A. Berle, Jr., tries to persuade US Secretary of State Cordell Hull to protest treatment of Jews in Poland. This request is based on a report by the Chargé in Warsaw, Alexander Kirk. Berle sates: “We should register a protest. We did so during the far less significant, though more dramatic, riots of a year ago November; and I see no reason why we should not make our feelings known regarding a policy of seemingly calculated cruelty which is beginning to be apparent now.” The protest is ultimately quashed by Breckinridge Long.
February 17, 1940
Reorganization of the Visa Division of the US State Department. Visa division responsibility is to “ensure the uniformity of procedures and a uniform interpretation of the immigration laws and regulations by our consular officers throughout the world. General instructions affecting the administration of immigration laws originate in the Visa Division in cooperation, in appropriate instances, with other divisions of the Department and with the Department of Labor.” Note: Chief of the Visa Division, Avra Warren, attends legislative committee meetings regarding proposed legislation regarding immigration.
New administrative policy on the issuing of visas: “the consular officer may desire to have the documents submitted by such persons include evidence to show not only that the sponsors are financially able to support the applicants but that their interest in the applicants and their plans for the latter are such that the sponsors will in all probability assume the obligation of supporting the intending immigrants for an indefinite period of time.”
May 10, 1940
Germany invades the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg. 136 German divisions participate in the invasion. Germans enforce anti-Jewish measures in each area. In the wake of the German invasions, more than 8 million persons are displaced all over Europe.
May 12, 1940
Germany invades France.
By the end of 1940, Lisbon becomes a major center of refuge for thousands of Jews escaping Nazi occupied Europe. Until the end of June 1940, trains regularly run from Berlin, Vienna and Prague to Lisbon. The Jewish Joint Distribution Committee provides money for destitute refugees who have escaped to Lisbon. The US consulate in Lisbon processes hundreds of visas to Jewish refugees.
US embassies and consulates in Nazi-occupied Europe (Germany, Austria, France, Holland, Belgium, Czechoslovakia and Luxembourg) are ordered to begin closing. US embassy in Paris will be moved to a new headquarters in Vichy.
US visa regulations for refugees are severely tightened. Refugees must now be able to prove that they can return to the countries of their origin from which they are fleeing. This is, in most cases, impossible because they are subject to arrest in their home country. Further, visa waiting periods are significantly lengthened.
After the surrender of France, a US Gallup Poll shows that 58% of Americans are willing to admit French and British children to the US during the war.
June 4, 1940
The US Immigration and Naturalization Service is transferred from the Department of Labor to the Justice Department, ostensibly for reasons of national security.
Breckinridge Long writes in his diary: “Still engaged in preparation of papers, consultations with Justice and Labor and arranging final draft executive orders and telegrams to restrict the granting of visas and to stop up the holes of unauthorized immigrants into the United States. Provided the President signs the Executive Order we will dispatch a long telegram which will tighten up our Consular examinations of persons requesting visas all along the line…”
June 5, 1940
Executive Order #8430 signed into law. It remains in effect until June 3, 1941. It supersedes Executive Order #8029 of December 1938. Part I, Sec. 1: Nonimmigrant aliens must present unexpired passports or “travel documents showing their origin and identity” and “valid passport visas.” Part II, Sec. 1: “Alien immigrants must present unexpired passports from country to which they owe allegiance and valid immigration visas granted by consular officers. Part VI: The Secretary of State and the department head charged with the administration of the immigration laws are hereby authorized to make such rules and regulations, not inconsistent with this order, as may be deemed necessary for carrying out the provisions of this order and the statues mentioned herein.”
The Secretary of State sends a cable to diplomatic and consular officers: “In view of the international situation, it is essential that all aliens seeking admission into the United States, including both immigrants and nonimmigrants be examined with the greatest care. Effective immediately, all applications for…nonimmigration visas, transit certificates and limited entry certificates, except as hereinafter specified, shall be executed in triplicate on Form 257, under oath administered by the Consul.”
June 14, 1940
The US President’s Advisory Committee on Political Refugees (PACPR) submits list of 600 refugees to be issued special emergency visas.
June 27, 1940
First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt and influential refugee advocates, including Thomas Mann and Joseph Chamberlain, influence the President to authorize the issuance of emergency visas to notable Jewish artists, labor leaders and other refugees in France who are endangered. As a result, the National Coordinating Committee for Aid to Refugees draws up a list of prominent refugees to receive temporary emergency visas to the US. In all, the names of 3,286 individuals of “superior intellectual attainment, of indomitable spirit, experienced and vigorous support of the precepts of liberal government, and who are in danger of persecution or death at the hands of autocracies.” This rescue project is undermined by Assistant Secretary of State Breckinridge Long and senior State Department officials in Washington. The State Department cuts the list down and slows the processing of temporary emergency visas. By December 19, 1940, only 238 emergency visas are issued by the State Department. When the rescue effort is ended in January 1941, only 1,236 emergency visas will have been issued. The refusal of Long and his deputies to approve and expedite these visas leads to complaints among members of PACPR.
Joseph Buttinger and Paul Hagen go to Washington, DC, to petition Mrs. Roosevelt to influence her husband to issue emergency visas to notable Jewish artists, labor leaders and other refugees in France. Mrs. Roosevelt immediately calls her husband and persuades her husband to authorize the emergency visas.
June 28, 1940
US Congress passes the Alien Registration Act of 1940. It requires registration and fingerprinting of all resident aliens above 14 years of age.
June 29, 1940
Cable from the Secretary of State to diplomatic and consular officers: “All applications for immigration visas must be examined with extreme care during the present period of emergency no such visa should be issued if there is any doubt whatsoever concerning the alien. Although a drastic reduction in the number of quota and nonquota immigration visas will result therefrom and quotas against which there is a heavy demand will be underissued, it is essential to take every precaution at this time to safeguard the best interests of the United States.”
July 8, 1940
Eleanor Roosevelt writes Varian Fry explaining that she is trying to get the President to get cooperation of South American countries to accept refugees.
August 9, 1940
Acting Secretary of State Sumner Welles signs Departmental order #870. Functions of the Visa Divisions: “To have general charge, within the scope of the authority of the Department of State, of the administration of the Immigration laws and regulations,” and “To initiate the policy action of the Department and to advise the Secretary of State in respect to problems arising from the measures necessary for the strengthening of the national defense; and to supervise the carrying out of these policies,” and “To maintain liaison with other Departments and Agencies of this Government and with Committees of the Congress concerned with entry and expulsion of aliens.”
September 6, 1940
US Minister in Portugal Herbert C. Pell, in cable to the Secretary of State, expresses concern that the Departmental Order of July 26, 1940 is “resulting in visas being granted in many cases to the least desirable element.” Requests that instruction of July 26 be modified [to make it more restrictive] and that consuls be instructed to act in accordance with provisions outlined in telegrams of June 5, and June 29. Pell cautions that certain aliens, not necessarily the most desirable, are receiving priority because they have been able “through organizations in the United States to have their names put on special lists for favorable consideration.” Pell states that “It is openly and frequently said that the Consulate can be overruled by anyone able to use influence in the United States and it is suggested that this influence is purchased.”
September 12, 1940
New review procedure for refugee artists and intellectuals seeking visas and entry to the United States in the summer of 1940. The names of these refugees are submitted to the President’s Advisory Committee on Political Refugees (PACPR). If PACPR approves an individual, the information is forwarded to the Department of Justice and to the Department of State. The consuls are then instructed as follows. On exit permits: “Consuls have been informed that they may furnish the applicants with notifications regarding their status as of possible assistance to them in applying for exit permits and for transit visas…” “It has been the general practice of consular officers, before issuing visas to applicants in countries which require exit permits, to ask that permission to depart be first obtained in order to avoid embarrassment which might be caused through the issuance of visas to applicants who should not be permitted by their governments to depart.” The US should “avoid any possible charge of implication in attempts of aliens to evade the laws of their countries with which this country maintains friendly relations.” However, “a distinction may be drawn between cases of citizens and non-citizens, especially in the occupied areas of France, and consular officers in France have already been informed by telegraph that in view of the representations which have been made that citizens who are not nationals of the country may find it of assistance in making arrangements to proceed on their journeys, to obtain their visas, such visas may be issued without first requiring the applicants to obtain exit permits, it being understood in such cases that the applicants will have the full responsibility for making the necessary arrangements to proceed on their journeys.”
September 18, 1940
Breckinridge Long writes in his diary: “A number of developments in our procedure in granting visas in [excess] of the quota have troubled me recently…” Long goes on to discuss how he wishes to take the power to grant visas away from the President’s Advisory Committee on Political Refugees (PACPR). “I layed [sic] it before the Secretary [of State Cordell Hull], and he authorized me to present the whole matter to the attention of the President. I did this today in the form of a letter which reviewed the situation and asked his consent to change the procedure, which would place in our Consuls abroad rather than in the President’s Committee in New York the final determination as to whether the person was entitled to entry into the United States…And now it remains for the President’s Committee to be curbed in its activities so that the laws again can operate in their normal course. I have felt that the procedure of extending visas to persons in the categories indicated was a perfectly legitimate practice provided the bars were not thrown down to the extent that the categories were expanded and a lot of person admitted to the United States in contravention of the law. I have been very careful to limit the authorization of visas to the end that the law be observed, and in my opinion a departure from this practice would be in effect to render the immigration laws nugatory.”
September 19, 1940
Cable from Secretary of State to certain diplomatic and consular officers (Lisbon, London, Moscow, Stockholm, Bordeaux, Lyon, Marseille, Nice, Casablanca, Oporto, Zurich): “To correct any misunderstanding regarding visa work, all visa applications should be carefully examined and if any doubt exists regarding alien’s activities in the past and possible activities in the United States which might be inimical to the United States, action in the case should be suspended and the alien should be requested to present clear evidence to establish essential facts.”
September 24, 1940
Long writes in his diary: “A long session this evening with James G. McDonald and his man Warren and Welles. McDonald is very wroth at the limitation upon the activities of his Committee, which were set out in a letter sent to him by the Secretary. He looks upon me as an obstructionist and was very bitter and somewhat denunciatory. There were a few warm words between us, but it straightened out. He said he wanted to see the President, and I said I hoped he would and would lay the whole matter before him.”
October 3, 1940
Breckinridge Long meets with President Roosevelt and convinces him to implement a policy that will let local US consuls make the final decision regarding visas to be issued to refugees. Long does this because he believes most US consulates will deny visas on the issue of a possible threat by the refugee to “national security.” He states in his diary, “About noon I had a long satisfactory conversation with the President on the subject of refugees. McDonald, Chairman of the President’s Advisory Committee on Refugees, has developed a very definite and violent antagonism to me. He thinks I have been non-cooperative and obstructive and has given evidence of his personal animosity. In a recent conversation in Mr. Welles’ office he indicated that he had a superlative ego and a vindictive mentality added to his disregard, to put it lightly, of me.” He goes on to say: “I found that [Roosevelt] was 100% in accord with my ideas.”
October 8, 1940
James G. McDonald and representatives of rescue groups meet with FDR to complain that Undersecretary Breckinridge Long and the US State Department are unjustly using security as a reason to block legitimate rescue of needy refugees. McDonald states: “[I] cannot believe, that those without visas present threats to the national interest.” Specifically, McDonald criticizes US consuls in Europe. FDR takes no action on this. 567 names are submitted to the State Department in August and September, yet only 40 visas are issued.
James McDonald states that refugees, despite reaching Portugal, “are still refused visas. To close this last avenue of escape is to condemn many scientists, scholars, writers, labor leaders and other refugees to further sacrifices for their belief in democracy and to bring to an end our tradition of hospitality to the politically oppressed. The original arrangements were wisely and soundly planned. Their purpose is still to be achieved.” Breckinridge Long defends his policies using the security issue as a rationale. After the complaint by McDonald, Long states: “In view of reports indicating that Nazi and other totalitarian agents are endeavoring to enter the United States in the guise of refugees, it has been considered essential in the national interest to scrutinize all applications carefully.” Reports by the FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover state that there was negligible entry of foreign agents into the United States during World War II.
Roosevelt elected to an unprecedented third term as US President. Democrats retain a majority in the Senate and House of Representatives.
New and more complicated screening procedures for approving visas to refugees are implemented by the State Department. The procedure involves a review of visa applicants not only by the State Department, but also by the Justice Department, the FBI and US Military and Naval Intelligence. This system requires that if a diplomat or consul in the field rejects an applicant for any reason, the visa would have to be approved by these various government departments. The visa process is slowed to a trickle.
November 13, 1940
Avra Warren, head of the Visa Division of the US State Department, serving under Breckinridge Long, criticizes and vetoes plan to permit 12,000 German Jews residing in Portugal safe refuge in the US Virgin Islands.
November 18, 1940
Varian Fry writes to US Secretary of State Cordell Hull regarding the plight of refugees in southern France: “Deprived of all hope of diplomatic or consular intervention in their behalf, hundreds of these new stateless are confined in the concentration camps of France and Spain, with little or no prospect of obtaining their release. I am sure that you are only too well aware what such confinement means…” Fry pleads on behalf of the refugees: “Is this not an occasion for the United States and the other nations of the Western Hemisphere to take extraordinary measures? Cannot the Government of the United States intervene in behalf at least of those upon whom it has seen fit to confer its visas, so that they may be released from the concentration camps, be granted French sortie visas and Spanish and Portuguese transit visas, and then be able to proceed on their way to liberty and the opportunity to rebuild their shattered lives?”
The United States, a non-belligerent in the war, has a more rigid screening procedure for refugees than does Britain, who had been fighting for two years. As a result of the US State Department’s interference and antisemitic policies, many European Jews are unable to obtain refuge in the United States. In the crucial year of 1941, only 47% of quota for German-Austrian immigration to the United States is filled.
State Department communication with consulates in the field, Foreign Service Regulations, ch. XXII: “Visas for aliens” sec. 1: “Officers of the Foreign Service, except consular agents, shall familiarize themselves with the existing laws on the subject of immigration and visas and with the rules and regulations established thereunder by the Attorney General, the Commissioner of Immigration and Naturalization, or other officials acting in the name of the President, and they shall perform the duties prescribed therein for them.” This law reminds diplomats in the field that they must strictly adhere to the regulations.
January 23, 1941
Communication from Adolf A. Berle to Eliot B. Coulter regarding inconsistencies among European consulates regarding documentation required to assure aliens will not become public charges. Berle expresses concern that some consuls interpret the “likely to become a public charge” clause too strictly. This memo is written after it becomes known to the Visa Division that the Marseille consulate had developed a 13 point questionnaire which it issued to sponsors who gave affidavits for aliens not closely related to them, ostensibly in order to assure sponsor’s sincere willingness to support the alien.
February 4, 1941
Avra Warren, head of the Visa Division of the US State Department, rejects rescue plan to settle Jewish refugees in the US territory of Alaska. He states “Nearly all of them belong to a particular race.”
February 7, 1941
Undersecretary of State Breckinridge Long writes to Mr. Adolf Berle, also of the State Department: “From time to time, some of our consuls, as is natural with any group of human beings with different reactions, have given different interpretations to the Department’s instructions. We have communicated with them directly by cablegram and by telephone in order to bring them in line with the Department’s policy. Our consulates in Germany, Switzerland, unoccupied France, and Portugal have been painstakingly supervised in this respect and are conforming to the pattern of the Department’s instructions. The requirements of the immigration law are specific. Irrespective of what the Department might desire, our policies are necessarily bound by the law in force.”
April 12, 1941
Communication from the Secretary of State to the US consulate in Marseille asks them to use their 13-point questionnaire “only in cases which clearly fail to meet Department’s 1048 March twenty-seventh.”
US Congress passes Russell Bill, which permits US diplomats and consults in Europe to deny visas to refugees who, in their opinion, would “endanger the public safety of the United States.” Breckinridge Long, who lobbied for this bill, did it to keep State Department diplomats in check.
June 5, 1941
US State Department institutes additional policies discouraging help for refugees from German occupied countries. It requires consuls in Europe to submit visa applications to Washington for review of those applicants who have “close relatives” in Nazi-occupied territories. Since most of these applicants in fact have relatives, this slows down their visa applications. This law applies to immigrants from Germany, Austria, Norway, the Netherlands, Belgium, Czechoslovakia, occupied France, Poland and the Balkans. The “close relative” clause states: “…the fact that a relative of the first degree of consanguinity, with whom the applicant had maintained close family ties [father, mother, brother, sister, wife, children], remains abroad in any country or territory under the control of a country whose form of government is opposed to the form of government of the United States may be considered with other evidence that the ties between such relative and the applicant would make the entry of the applicant prejudicial to the public safety or inimical to the interests of the United States.”
In addition to the above, all refugees are required to get the endorsement of two US sponsors. One sponsor must vouch for the financial solvency of the refugee and the other to attest to their moral qualifications. Under these regulations, refugees are forced to go through three separate review committees: a primary committee, an independent visa review committee, and if the application is denied a Board of Appeals. An elaborate visa application is then filled out in sextuplicate and distributed to the Immigration and Naturalization Service, the FBI, Military and Naval Intelligence, and the State Department. It takes 3-6 weeks to process the forms. As a result, the application process falls 4-5 months behind schedule for each applicant. Applicants are divided between “friendly aliens” (not escaping from Nazi-occupied countries) and “enemy aliens” (escaping from Germany, Austria, Romania, Bulgaria or Hungary). Applicants who are rejected have to wait six months to reapply for a visa. They are not told the reason that their visa was turned down. If the applicant clears all these hurdles, the local consulate is cabled by Washington and the visa can be approved at the discretion of the consul if the immigration quota is not yet filled. The refugee must on their own obtain exit visas to leave the country from which they are escaping. They must also obtain transportation to the point of departure and, ultimately, to the United States. The visa process is time-sensitive. If the refugee cannot secure paperwork from the foreign government and transportation, his US visa application could be cancelled and the whole process started over.
These regulations immediately trap 3,000 refugees in Lisbon bound for the United States. Many thousands more are trapped in Germany and Nazi-occupied areas.
June 20, 1941
Act denying aliens who would endanger the public safety admission to the US: “whenever any American diplomatic or consular officer knows or has reason to believe that any alien seeks to enter the United States for the purpose of engaging in activities which will endanger the public safety of the United States, he shall refuse to issue to such alien any immigration visa, passport visa, transit certificate, or other document entitling such alien to present himself for admission to the Untied States.”
June 21, 1941
The Bloom-Van Nuys Immigration Law is passed and takes effect on July 1. Assistant Secretary of State Breckinridge Long lobbies for this bill. It was meant to encourage US consuls stationed in Europe to deny entry to the US by refugees based on the possibility that they could endanger public safety. This law is intended to prevent refugees from receiving visas. A clause in this law called the “close relative clause,” denies visas to people who have relatives in Nazi-occupied territories. Almost all refugees have close relatives in their home countries. This restrictive clause sends a clear message to US embassies and consulates that help to refugees is to be restricted and discouraged. This act imposes upon immigrants five complicated levels of visa application review. This complicated review is designed to take power away from local consuls to make independent decisions regarding the suitability of the immigrant to enter the US. Decisions by diplomats often have to be reviewed by the Department of State, Navy and Army intelligence, the Department of Justice, and the FBI. Refugees denied visas have long, complicated appeals processes. The process often takes up to five months to process applications. More than one half of visa applications are rejected by the US State Department. The strict provisions of the Bloom-Van Nuys Act are not rescinded until May 1945. For the rest of the war, only a small fraction of US immigration quotas for German, Austrian, French and other European refugees will be filled.
Long further imposes on diplomats and consuls the regulation that potential refugees must obtain exit visas from the countries they are leaving, to include Germany, Austria, Czechoslovakia and Southern France, before they can obtain an entry visa to the US. These exit visas from Nazi government are extremely difficult to obtain. Long understands that these regulations will tie up refugees in elaborate rules and regulations of government red tape, stating: “We can delay and effectively stop for a temporary period of indefinite length the number of immigrants into the United States. We could do this by simply advising our consuls to put every obstacle in the way and to resort to various administrative advices which would postpone and postpone the granting of visas.”
James McDonald, of the President’s Advisory Committee on Political Refugees (PACPR) is outraged by the Bloom-Van Nuys Act: “The so-called relative rule should be cancelled or substantially modified. Our experience with refugees has convinced us that it is unnecessary, illogical, ill-adapted to the purposes claimed for it, and cruelly burdensome on the refugees affected by it.”
A number of US diplomats independently subvert the intention of the Bloom-Van Nuys Act and provide visas to a number of Jewish refugees.
July 1, 1941
New regulations by the State Department centralize alien visa control at the US Department of State. Applications for visas are required to be submitted to the State Department before they are referred to the consuls in the field. “As cases will be considered and action taken by the consuls under the law strictly according to the facts of the cases, special consideration may not be accorded and should not be requested.”
July 15, 1941
US consulates in Nazi occupied Europe are closed. These include consulates in Germany, Austria, France, Holland, Luxembourg and Belgium. Escape routes from these areas are cut off from legal emigration.
July 28, 1941
Former US diplomat Alfred Wagg publishes a series of articles in the New Republic magazine highly critical of the visa policy of the US State Department. He accuses the State Department of widespread antisemitism and anti-refugee sentiments in the US Foreign Service.
August 15, 1941
German government stops issuing exit visas to Jews.
August 27, 1941
Breckinridge Long meets with FDR to reinforce Long’s negative views on issuing visas to refugees. In his diary, Long claims FDR is in agreement with this restrictive policy.
US Representative Emanuel Celler introduces a bill into the US House of Representatives that calls for letting refugees from France enter the US. Celler’s bill dies in committee.
September 2, 1941
Francis Biddle and James G. MacDonald convince FDR to liberalize the “close relative clause” and the visa policy for refugees. In a small way, this helps refugees in their appeals process. The rate of visa rejection is lowered by 15%.
Only 4,800 visa applications out of 9,500 have been approved by the US State Department for refugees. The US State Department and Department of Justice disagree on refugee visa policy and security issues.
January 27, 1942
President Roosevelt, in a private conversation with Leo Crowley, Wartime Alien Property Custodian, states: “Leo, you know this is a Protestant country, and the Catholics and the Jews are here on sufferance. It is up to both of you [Crowley and Henry Morgenthau, a Jew and Secretary of the Treasury] to go along with anything that I want at this time.”
Appendix 51: Telegram, US Department of State, September 18, 1940
Department of State
1940 Sep 18
VICHY (France) FOR PARIS
Your 539, September 11, 10 a.m. and 566, September 14, 6 p.m.
You should inform Dr. Bohn and Mr. Fry in personal interview if this can be arranged immediately that while Department is sympathetic with the plight of unfortunate refugees, and has authorized consular officers to give immediate and sympathetic consideration to their applications for visas, this Government can not repeat not countenance the activities [as reported] of Dr. Bohn and Mr. Fry and other persons, however well-meaning their motives may be, in carrying on activities evading the laws of countries with which the United States maintains friendly relations.
You are requested in your discretion, to inform the appropriate officials of the Foreign Office that while aliens who qualify for and obtain visas at American consular offices as meeting the requirements of American immigration laws have the required visa documentation to proceed to the United States, this Government does not repeat not countenance any activity by American citizens desiring to evade the laws of the governments with which this country maintains friendly relations. You may also ask Mr. Hurley to inform the Prefect at Marseille in this sense. Consul at Marseille should also be informed that Dr. Bohn has been requested to return to United States immediately. You may also advise Embassy Paris and Consuls at Bordeaux and Nice regarding situation. Keep Department advised of developments.
Enciphered by ENC
Appendix 52: Memo from State Department re Recalling Fry, Sept. 27, 1940
This is a memorandum from the US State Department trying to pressure the leadership of the Emergency Rescue Committee in New York to recall Varian Fry from France.
This indicates the extreme antipathy that the State Department showed toward Varian Fry and the Emergency Rescue Committee, with whom Bingham was heavily involved in helping refugees.
September 27, 1940
Following your instruction to me to use all means possible to persuade his principals to recall Mr. Fry from France I talked to Mr. William Stone of the Foreign Policy Association and to Mr. Jay Allen of the Emergency Rescue Committee.
Mr. Stone took the matter up immediately with General Frank R. McCoy, the Chairman of the Foreign Policy Association, who said that he would send a telegram immediately requesting Mr. Fry’s return.
Mr. Allen said that there would be a meeting of the Executive Committee of the Emergency Rescue Committee this afternoon and that he would tell his colleagues of the Department’s insistence on having Mr. Fry recalled and would inform me of the result immediately.
Appendix 53: Memorandum from State Department re Fry October 1, 1940
This is a memorandum written by Pell at the State Department to Breckinridge Long. This memorandum regarding Varian Fry was addressing the issue that Fry had complained to numerous officials at the State Department and they were pressuring the leaders of the Emergency Rescue Committee and others to force Fry’s recall from Marseilles. Fry accused State Department officials “who are almost Nazi in their sympathies and did not wish his efforts to succeed.” Many historians now agree with Fry’s assessment. The antipathy shown by the State Department to Fry shows clearly the risk that Bingham took in helping the ERC.
October 1, 1940
Subject: Mr. Fry
Following the meeting of its Executive Committee, the Emergency Relief Committee at New York telegraphed Mr. Fry on Saturday requesting him to return to the United States. This decision was reached on the Executive Committee not without difficulty and considerable opposition so that the telegram which finally was sent was not as peremptory in tone as I had requested.
On Monday the Relief Committee received a telegram from Mr. Fry to the effect that he saw no necessity to leave, that his work was progressing favorably, and that the whole affair was “cooked up” by American officials who are almost Nazi in their sympathies and did not wish his efforts to succeed. I have not seen the text of this telegram but that was how it was quoted to me.
I said to Mr. Allen, this was on Monday, that I was not satisfied with the exchange of telegrams and thought that the Committee should, without any further delay order Mr. Fry home. I explained once again that there would probably be an unpleasant incident if he remained, that his activities were now generally known which meant that his usefulness had ceased and that his continued presence was an embarrassment to everybody, and might wreak havoc on the refugees. The Committee said they would send a second telegram.
Later Mrs. Fry telephoned from New York and said that she had learned of my conversation with the Committee which was still divided on the question of recalling her husband and probably the second cable they would send out would leave the decision up to Mr. Fry. She offered to send her husband a telegram asking him to return if I thought it absolutely necessary. I said that I thought it absolutely necessary and hoped that she would send the telegram. This she promised to do.
In the meantime I had talked with General McCoy and Mr. Stone of the Foreign Policy Association with was a joint sponsor with the Emergency Relief Committee of Mr. Fry’s activities. General McCoy agreed to send the telegram which went out last night. General McCoy commented that he had a definite understanding with Fry that he would return at the end of September, that his contract had now expired and that the Foreign Policy Association would not put up anymore money. General McCoy doubted very much whether the Emergency Relief Committee could stand the strain of keeping Mr. Fry abroad. He said that Mr. Fry was without personal funds.
Appendix 54: Cable from US Embassy in Vichy to State Dept., June 25, 1941
Department of State
June 25, 1941
The Emergency Rescue Committee has agreed to order Mr. Varian Fry to return to United States.
[signed] Welles, Acting [Secretary of State]
[initialed by Breckinridge Long and others]
Source: US National Archives and Records Administration, General Records of the Department of State, Visa Division, 1940-1945, 811.111, Refugees/1527.
Appendix 55 – Circular Telegrams to Consulates from Secty. of State
811.111 W. R./l: Circular telegram
The Secretary of State to Diplomatic and Consular Officers
WASHINGTON, June 5, 1940-6 p.m.
In view of the international situation it is essential that all aliens seeking admission into the United States, including both immigrants and non-immigrants, be examined with the greatest care.
Effective immediately, all applications for diplomatic and nonimmigrant visas, transit certificates and limited entry certificates, except as hereinafter specified, shall be executed in triplicate, on Form 257, under oath administered by the Consul. A signed photograph will be attached to each copy of the form and impressed with the legend machine or impression seal.
In the case of aliens bearing passports or other travel documents issued by governments recognized by the United States, there may be placed thereon a notation indicating the issuance of the nonimmigrant grant visa or certificate.
All applications for nonimmigrant documentation should be carefully scrutinized in the light of war conditions and other factors affecting the purpose of the applicant's proposed entry into the United States. A visa should be issued only when the applicant conclusively establishes a legitimate purpose or a reasonable need for his presence in this country (rather than his departure from abroad). Each applicant should be required to specify in his application what places he intends to visit in the United States and how long he intends to stay in each place.
Each applicant shall also be required to present conclusive evidence that upon his departure from the United States he will be admitted into the country of his nationality or some other foreign country to which he intends to return or proceed. Such evidence may include written assurance from the appropriate foreign authorities or confirmation obtained at applicant's expense through American diplomatic or consular representatives in third countries. Specific reference to authorization for applicant's admission into foreign country should be made on form 257.
The last sentence of the application on form no. 257 is hereby amended to read as follows: “I solemnly swear that the foregoing statements are true to the best of my knowledge and belief and I understand that I shall be required to depart from the United States at the end of my temporary sojourn.”
Subdivisions (a) and (d) of note 5, to Supplement A, Part II of
(the Foreign Service Regulations are cancelled, effective July 1, 1940, and thereafter the aliens referred to therein shall be required to obtain appropriate documentation before being admitted into the United States.
This document was found in the central files of the US State Department Record Group 811.111 / WR / 108A. It is located in the US National Archives and Records Administration.
This was a circular issued to US diplomatic offices informing consular officers to review refugees’ papers with extreme care, even though this would involve a “drastic reduction in the number of quota and nonquota immigrant visas…”
Department of State
June 29, 1940
CIRCULAR TELEGRAM TO
ALL DIPLOMATIC AND CONSULAR OFFICES.
Nonimmigrant visas issued prior to June 6, 1940 must be revalidated by an American consular officer unless the holders are on the high seas enroute to the United States. Transportation lines should be informed. The validation shall consist of a gratis endorsement on the visa with the notation of validating office and date. Record on form 257 should be retained in the office and copies sent to Department. In revalidating such visas a most careful examination will be given to ascertain that the alien’s entry would not be contrary to the public safety and to ascertain that the entry involves a reasonable need or legitimate purpose.
All applications for immigration visas must be examined with extreme care and during the present period of emergency no such visa should be issued if there is any doubt whatsoever concerning the alien. Although a drastic reduction in the number of quota and nonquota immigration visas issued will result therefrom and quotas against which there is a heavy demand will be underissued, it is essential to take every precaution at this time to safeguard the best interests of the United States.
[initialed by Breckinridge Long and others]
811.111 Refugees/193: Circular telegram
The Acting Secretary of State to Certain Diplomatic
and Consular Officers
WASHINGTON, July 26, 1940.
The following procedure has been adopted by the Department of State and the Department of Justice with a view to extending every facility and assistance permitted under the law to alien refugees living under difficult conditions who desire to come to the United States either as immigrants or as non-immigrant temporary visitors or transients, where the applicants are qualified under the law, are coming to the United States for a legitimate purpose and do not intend to engage in any activity inimical to the United States.
The procedure will be applicable only to individuals whose cases have been previously approved by joint action of the Department of State and the Department of Justice. The names of such individuals will be cabled to the appropriate consul in the country of the applicant's residence, with, a reference to this instruction. If immigration, visitor's, or transit visas, cannot be immediately issued to such individuals, and to their wives, children, and other accompanying members of their families, the consuls are directed to notify the Department at once concerning the nature of any difficulty which has arisen in order that all practicable steps may be taken to remove such impediment to the issuance of the visas.
Before names are cabled to consular officers for action pursuant to this instruction the individuals in question will have been approved in Washington with respect to: first, the propriety of the purposes for which they seek to enter the United States; second, the matter of their departure from the United States at the conclusion of the period for which they shall have been permitted entry, in cases in which they are eligible only for visitors' visas or transit certificates; and third, the existence and adequacy of assurances that they will not become public charges.
Immigration visas will be issued in all cases in which quota numbers are available for persons of the applicants' registration dates, and in which an immigration visa is desired. In cases in which quota numbers are not available and the applicants desire to apply for temporary entry, their cases should be considered under such categories as follows: Transit certificates may be issued to aliens in possession of visas with which they will be permitted to enter another country. In all other cases visitors' visas may be issued.
In all cases in which visitors' visas or transit visas are issued, the consul will inform the applicant that he is assuming the obligation to leave the United States as soon as it is possible for him to do so and to make immediate efforts in good faith to secure travel documents to this end. The application for a visa shall contain the statement that the application is made upon this understanding.
Particular attention is called to the fact that Section 7 (c) documents; including passports, military and police certificates and birth certificates, which are not readily available, may be waived under Note 87, Supplement A, Part II, Foreign Service Regulations. It is anticipated that under present conditions some or all of such documents will not be available.
Cases of other refugees than those covered by this procedure may be given every consideration in the light of their particular facts and evidence submitted by mail or telegraph relating to support and intention and ability to proceed to a third country at the conclusion of their visit.
You may in your discretion, and possibly upon request of the applicant, inform the authorities or other persons regarding the issuance of visas or the favorable preliminary consideration of cases, for possible assistance to the applicants in obtaining transit visas to place of embarcation.
68 Sent to the diplomatic officers at Lisbon (No. 186), London (No. 2038), and Dublin (No. 51), and to consular officers at Oporto (No. 15), Marseille (No. 169), and Bordeaux (No. 706).
Appendix 56: Telegram to Diplomatic Offices on September 19, 1940
The following is a telegram sent by Cordell Hull to the various consulates and embassies, including the consulate in Marseilles.
Department of State
September 19, 1940
CIRCULAR TELEGRAM TO BE SENT TO
FOLLOWING DIPLOMATIC AND CONSULAR OFFICES LISTED BELOW
Refer to Department’s circular telegrams of June 5, 6 p.m.; June 29, 1 p.m.; and July 26, 11 p.m.
To correct any misunderstanding regarding visa work, all visa applications should be carefully examined and if any doubt exists regarding client’s activities in the past and possible activities in the United States which might be inimical to the United States, action in the case should be suspended and the alien should be requested to present clear evidence to establish essential facts. In considering lists of alien refugees transmitted by Department with assurances of the sponsoring organization regarding support and arrangements to proceed to third country, you should carefully examine cases as to applicants’ past and future activities and as to aliens’ status as refugee intellectuals or labor leaders or refugees in particular danger of their lives, and if any doubt exists action in the cases should be suspended.
Courtesy National Archives and Records Administration, Record Group #59
Appendix 57: Letter from Long to Adolph Berle and Mr. Dunn, June 26, 1940
This is an important letter written and signed by Breckinridge Long, Undersecretary of State in charge of visas. Dated June 26, 1940. It was found in the Breckinridge Long papers, Box 211, Visa Div. General 1940. TB6.1.7 / DR6.1.7.
The document talks about divesting consuls of their discretionary powers for issuing non-immigrant visas. It was designed to delay and effectively stop, for a temporary period, immigrants into the United States.
June 26, 1940.
A-B – Mr. Berle
PA/D – Mr. Dunn
Attached is a memorandum from Mr. Warren. I discussed the matter with him on the basis of this memorandum. There are two possibilities and I will discuss each category briefly.
Their entry into the United States can be made to depend upon prior authorization by the Department. This would mean that the consuls would be divested of discretion and that all requests for nonimmigrant visas (temporary visitor and transit visas) be passed upon here. It is quite feasible and can be done instantly. It will permit the Department to effectively control the immigration of persons in this category and private instructions can be given the Visa Division as to nationalities which should not be admitted a well as to individuals who are to be excluded.
This must be done for universal application and could not be done as regards Germany, for instance, or Russia, for instance, or any other one government because it would first, invite retaliation and second, would probably be a violation of some of our treaty arrangements. The retaliation clause is in connection with Germany because it could mean the closing of our offices in almost all of Europe.
We can delay and effectively stop for a temporary period of indefinite length the number of immigrants into the United States. We could do this by simply advising our consuls to put every obstacle in the way and to require additional evidence and to resort to various administrative advices which would postpone and postpone and postpone the granting of the visas. However, this could only be temporary. In order to make it more definite it would have to be done by suspension of the rules under the law by the issuance of a proclamation of emergency—which I take it we are not yet ready to proclaim.
We can effectively control nonimmigrants by prohibiting the issuance of visas unless the consent of the Department is obtained in advance, for universal application.
We can temporarily prevent the number of immigrants from certain localities such as Cuba, Mexico and other places of origin of German intending immigrants by simply raising administrative obstacles.
The Department will be prepared to take these two steps immediately upon the decision but emphasis must be placed on the fact that discrimination must not be practiced and with the additional thought that in case a suspension of the regulations should be proclaimed under the need of an emergency, it would be universally applicable and would affect refugees from England.
The Canadian situation and travel across that border we can handle through an exception to the general rule and so advise our consuls in Canada.
Appendix 58 – Margaret Jones Letter Re Long Memo
Letter from Margaret E. Jones, an American Quaker working with European Jews hoping to emigrate to the U.S., expressing her distress at the impact of Breckinridge Long's memo.
Memo to Clarence E. Pickett from Margaret E. Jones
Re,--Visa situation in Vienna
Because I am deeply disturbed over present visa difficulties in Vienna, I want thee to have this memorandum for thy information.
Last July, en route from Geneva back to the Vienna Center, I stopped in Zurich and had an interview with Mr. Strom, at the U.S. Consulate. He told me of recent orders from Washington which would severely limit the number of visas ordinarily issued month by month from the various Consulates. I asked him if this was an attempt on the part of the State Department to offset any move by Congress to stop immigration entirely. Mr. Strom at once asked me with whom I had been talking to get that impression, and then said that he "did not think it was". Later in Vienna, Mr. Hohenthal told me too about the new stringent regulations, and was also obviously interested when I raised the same question with him. About the middle of August, the Consulate--always, as I have repeatedly said, working most cooperatively and sympathetically with me and the Quaker Center--telephoned to say the Mr. Warren, Mr. Morris and Mr. Hohenthal and I talked that afternoon about the new regulations concerning emigration. Mr. Warren began by saying, "Miss Jones, you Quakers will be doing a straight relief job for the non-Aryans here from now on." I said, "No more non Aryans to go to the U.S.?" Warren replied- "Not just non-Aryans--but no more aliens." Then I asked him the same question --was this an attempt to forestall Congress and prevent an out and out closing of immigration by making so severe a cut that the State Dept. could assure Congress they had the situation in hand. Mr. Warren said not Congress, but the President just did not want any more aliens coming to the U.S. and would like to have it closed especially for aliens coming from Germany. The State Dept. asked to be allowed to taper it all off gradually, and he, Warren, was touring Europe as far east as Moscow to check up with the consulates and to make plans accordingly. He explained it somewhat casually--increasing anti-Semitism in the U.S.; some refugees had already been traced to 5th column activities; the need to give visas to England and so forth. He told me that during July, 4000 visas had been granted to England,--many to English people, and many to German refugees in England, and he said that he also hoped additional visas would be granted to Shanghai, to help the refugee situation there. He told me Stuttgart had only given 3 visas during July. Vienna had issued that month about 100, but the number would be greatly reduced. I asked him what the State Dept. planned to do about reuniting families, and also about children. Warren implied that they would carefully consider cases where reuniting families was an issue, and that surely some children would be allowed to emigrate from Germany. But his whole idea was that emigration for German Jews coming from Germany was practically finished.
Thee may recall that as soon as I get to Geneva, in September, on my way home from Vienna, I wrote about this and indicated just how awful it was, because the Consulate kept encouraging people to do everything required of them, and then at the final interview decided the person would "become a public charge" and therefore could not get a visa. I now know that about 3 or 4 visas are issued each week, and that supposedly with each, the Consulate evaluates the candidate according to Mr. Warren's instructions, "What outstanding contributions can he make to the U.S.A.?" No one can imagine what trouble the men and women must go through to finally get to the Consulate for the last interview--all sorts of severe local requirements must be met before permission to leave is given by the Nazi authorities. Each step takes weeks, and also Marks. (This entirely apart from the heartbreaking anxiety over affidavits and steamship tickets. With every thing in order, the candidate learns now from the Consulate that he must have a new certificate notarized (20 to 40 Marks) indicating that at least two friends can vouch that he is an upright man and not engaged in espionage activities. This in addition to the usual Police certificate, which would be sufficient. (I should think the Consulate would know, if they suspect every applicant for a visa as a potential spy, that the applicants could get anyone to sign such a statement if they wanted to do so.) Furthermore, the candidate for the visa in his final interview faces a board of Consuls, who ask questions ( I was told in the Consulate in Vienna that this questioning HAD to last 40 minutes and that often the two men doing the questioning just couldn't fill in the time!) and a stenographer takes down the answers in short hand. Now very few non-Aryans in Germany entirely trust the German members of the U.S. Consular staff, and to reply to questioning in a way which would damn the Nazi government, and to know that those replies are being taken down by a German, naturally terrified the applicant. On the other hand, if he doesn't say what he thinks about the Nazi gov't, he feels that the U.S. Consuls will judge him potential 5th Column material and refuse the visa accordingly.
Perhaps I feel too strongly about this--but I know only too well what the life of the Jew in Vienna is today. I know of the terror and despair, and of the unbelievable difficulties each man and woman endures, and tries to solve, in connection with obtaining the U.S. visa. I want to say again that the Vienna Consulate has on its Visa Division staff men of ability and sympathy, who work as much as possible with the individual in mind, but they can only do what the U. S. immigration law permits. (I cannot endorse the physician at the Consulate, but his attitude is subject for another memorandum!) But it seems to me that if the U.S. wants to make a new ruling due to the war, etc., that it must make it openly and give the reasons. We cannot continue to let these tragic people go on hoping that if they comply with every requirement, if they get all the special documents required (Marks are increasingly needed by the Jews just to live), if they nerve themselves for the final interview at the Consulate, they may just possibly be the lucky ones to get visas when we know that practically no one is granted visas in Germany today. As thee knows, the whole question of affidavits is involved --irrevocable trust funds as required by the Consulate--we can't go out to individuals in this country for this basic cooperation when we know that regardless of what we or the applicant does, he is not going to get the visa.
Thee understands that this is a confidential report for thee to have as background. I do hope that the question can be given very careful study, and a decision reached which will in some measure allay the mental suffering of so many persons. We could alleviate a lot of the mental suffering, of course, by restoring the normal visa program for the applicants in Germany.
Naturally I am fully aware of the almost insuperable difficulties of travel from Germany. Greece is now closed to those who would have attempted to go via that country through the Mediterranean to Lisbon. Spain now refuses a transit visas to anyone with a "J" on his passport. The route via Siberia and Japan is the only one open, and it offers tremendous difficulties. But our government should make its own position absolutely clear, and I do hope the several refugee committees can get this matter satisfactorily outlined.
Margaret E. Jones
Appendix 59: Letter from Breckinridge Long
Hugh S. Fullerton, Esquire,
American Consul General,
It is a pleasure to send you herewith a copy of a letter which has been received from Mr. Robert C. Dexter of Boston, Massachusetts, containing statements commendatory of Mr. Hiram Bingham, Jr., Vice Consul at your post. A copy of the Department’s reply to Mr. Dexter’s letter is also enclosed.
Very truly yours,
For the Secretary of State:
1. From Mr. Robert C.
Dexter, January 2,
2. To Mr. Dexter.
123 Bingham, Hiram / 190
Appendix 60 – United States Visa Procedures 1941
ALIENS DESIRING TO PROCEED TO THE UNITED STATES
1. Under present regulations the cases of prospective applicants for visas must be submitted to the Department of State on Form BC, as indicated below, before final consideration may be given to the application by the appropriate consular officer abroad. Exemption from this procedure is made for native-born citizens of independent countries of the Western Hemisphere; citizens of Canada or Newfoundland and British subjects born or domiciled in any part of the Western, Hemisphere; applicants for nonquota, immigration visas who are the beneficiaries of approved Forms 633 according them nonquota status as the wife, husband by marriage prior to July 1, 1932, or minor child of an American citizen; and applicants in the Western Hemisphere for nonquota immigration visas as returning resident aliens. Such exempted applicants should apply direct to American consuls abroad for visas. The forms maybe obtained free of charge upon request from the Visa Division, Department of State, Washington, D. C. Social service organizations offering their services without charge to sponsors of visa applicants may obtain forms from the President Advisory Committee on Political Refugees, 122 East Twenty-second Street, New York, N. Y. The President's Advisory Committee has volunteered to refer sponsors of visa applicants, at their request, to such social service organizations.
2. IMMIGRATION VISAS FOR PERMANENT RESIDENCE.--Form BC must be completed in full and submitted to the Department of State. The original only must be notarized.
3. NONIMMIGRANT VISITOR'S VISAS: TRANSIT CERTIFICATES; LIMITED ENTRY CERTIFICATES.--Form BC (Part B, Biographical Data Concerning Alien Visa Applicant) (Part C, Affidavit of Support and Sponsorship, omitting the portion relating to the sponsor's financial position and assurance of support) must be submitted to the Department.
4. FORM K, DESIGNATION TO ACT AS AGENT OR REPRESENTATIVE OF PERSON DESIRING TO SPONSOR THE ADMISSION OF AN ALIEN INTO THE UNITED STATES.--Must be submitted in duplicate by:
(a) any person, other than a relative or friend acting without charge, on behalf of an applicant;
(b) any organization acting for a sponsor in a visa case except a Federal, State, municipal, or charitable agency.
5. PROCEDURE.--Each application is considered by an Interdepartmental Visa Committee acting in an advisory capacity. If the case is approved by that body, a notice will be sent to interested persons and also to the American consular officer where the alien intends to apply for a visa. However, should an unfavorable decision be reached by the committee or should the alien be classifiable under the regulations as an alien enemy (i.e., natives, citizens, subjects, or denizens of countries with which the United States is at war), each case is given further consideration by an Interdepartmental Visa Review Committee which sits in Washington only; this gives an opportunity to an alien residing in the United States or to interested individuals to appear in person or through an attorney or other intermediary before the committee to make such additional statements as may be deemed appropriate. The hearing is conducted in an informal manner.
With a view to avoiding delay in the event that a case may require a hearing before the review committee, one copy of an Application for Appearance (Form IVRC-1) should be executed in single copy by one or more persons who desire to appear at the hearing, as a sponsor, an interested relative or friend acting as a witness, or as an attorney. If additional persons desire to appear, extra copies of the Application for Appearance may be typewritten for the purpose. If a hearing before the review committee becomes necessary, persons who have indicated their desire to appear will be given reasonable notice of the time and place where the hearing will be conducted in Washington. If no interested person is able to appear, the sponsors should request by letter, transmitted with the BC forms, that the case be reviewed without personal testimony. Although the same consideration is given to a case reviewed without such testimony, personal appearance of the applicant, when he already is in the United States, is most advisable, as well as the personal appearance of a sponsor or other interested person who is familiar with the applicant's background and who, accordingly, is in a position to furnish material information not contained in the BC forms.
6. SUBMISSION OF FORMS.--When the required forms are executed they should be assembled together and transmitted to the Department of State as a single and complete file: A file will consist of Forms BC (in sextuplicate); Form (s) K (where necessary); and one or more Forms IVRG-1, unless it is desired that the case be heard without personal appearance and a covering letter to this effect is attached.
7. REGULATIONS.--The regulations pertaining to the visa procedure outlined above appear in the Department of State's publication No. 1709 (for sale by the Superintendent of Documents, Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C., price 10 cents; however, it is understood to be now out of print but these regulations may also be consulted in the Federal Register of November 22, 1941, as amended by the Federal Register of January 29, 1942)
Appendix 61: United States State Department Memo, August 1942
United States State Department receives information from Switzerland regarding the Nazi plan to murder the Jews of Europe.
This telegram must be closely paraphrased
before being communicated to anyone. (SC)
Dated August 11, 1942
Rec'd 2:35 p.m.
Secretary of State,
3697, August 11, 3 p.m.
Gerhardt M. Riegner Secretary World Jewish Congress Geneva called on Vice Consul Elting Geneva Saturday eighth greatly agitated and requested following quoted message be transmitted for information American and other Allied Governments and be notified in Department's discretion to Dr Stephen Wise New York City:
"Informer reported to have close connections with highest German authorities who has previously generally reliable reports says that in Fuehrer's [sic] headquarters plan under consideration to exterminate at one blow this fall three and half to four millions Jews following deportation from countries occupied, controlled by Germany and concentration in east. Method execution undecided but prussic acid has been considered. Information transmitted with reservation as exactitude cannot be ascertained."
CONFIDENTIAL Legation note: Legation has no information which would tend to confirm this report which is however forwarded in accordance with Riegner's wishes. In conversation with Elting Riegner drew attention to recently reported Jewish deportations eastward from occupied France, protectorate and probably elsewhere. The report has earmarks of war rumor inspired by fear and what is commonly understood to be the actually miserable condition of these refugees who face decimation as result physical maltreatment persecution and scarcely endurable privations malnutrition and disease.
Geneva, Switzerland, August 10, 1942
Subject: Transmitting Memorandum of Conversation with Secretary of Jewish Congress, Geneva, concerning Report that Germans are Considering Wholesale Extermination of Jews.
THE HONORABLE SECRETARY OF STATE, WASHINGTON.
At the suggestion of the Legation at Bern, I have the honor to enclose a copy of a memorandum in the above entitled matter.
I desire to reiterate my belief in the utter seriousness of my informant.
Howard Elting, Jr.
American Vice Consul
Copy of memorandum, as stated.
Subject: Conversation with Mr. Gerhart M. RIEGNER, Secretary of World Jewish Congress
This morning Mr. Gerhart M. RIEGNER, Secretary of the World Jewish Congress in Geneva, called in great agitation. He stated that he had just received a report from a German business man of considerable prominence, who is said to have excellent political and military connections in Germany and from whom reliable and important political information has been obtained on two previous occasions, to the effect that there has been and is being considered in Hitler's headquarters a plan to exterminate all Jews from Germany and German controlled areas in Europe after they have been concentrated in the east (presumably Poland). The number involved is said to be between three-and-a-half and four millions and the object is to permanently settle the Jewish question in Europe. The mass execution if decided upon would allegedly take place this fall.
Riegner stated that according to his informant the use of prussic acid was mentioned as a means of accomplishing the executions. When I mentioned that this report seemed fantastic to me, Riegner said that it struck him in the same way but that from the fact that mass deportation had been taking place since July 16 as confirmed by reports received by him from Paris, Holland, Berlin, Vienna, and Prague it was always conceivable that such a diabolical plan was actually being considered by Hitler as a corollary.
According to Riegner, 14,000 Jews have already been deported from occupied France and 10,000 more are to be handed over from occupied France in the course of the next few days. Similarly from German sources 56,000 Jews have already been deported from the Protectorate together with
unspecified numbers from Germany and other occupied countries.
Riegner said this report was so serious and alarming that he felt it his duty to make the following requests: (1) that the American and other Allied Governments be informed with regard thereto at once; (2) that they be asked to try by every means to obtain confirmation or denial; (3) that Dr. Stephen Wise, the president of his organization, be informed of the report.
I told Riegner that the information would be passed on to the Legation at once but that I was not in a position to inform him as to what action, if any, the Legation might take. He hoped that he might be informed in due course that the information had been transmitted to Washington.
For what it is worth, my personal opinion is that Riegner is a serious and balanced individual and that he would never have come to the Consulate with the above report if he had not had confidence in his informant's reliability and if he did not seriously consider that the report might well contain an element of truth. Again it is my opinion that the report should be passed on to the Department for what it is worth.
There is attached a draft of a telegram prepared by Riegner giving in his own words a telegraphic summary of his statements to me.
Howard Elting, Jr.
American Vice Consul
Appendix 62 – US State Department Memo, January 1943
In January 1943, the American legation in Switzerland sends information to Sumner Welles, Undersecretary of State, confirming reports of mass executions of Jews in Poland.
PARAPHRASE OF TELEGRAM
FROM: AMERICAN LEGATION, BERN
TO: Under Secretary of State, Washington, D.C.
DATE: January 21, 1943
The following is for your information and to be transmitted to Rabbi Stephen Wise, if you so determine. Reference Department's 2314 of October 5.
"It has now been confirmed from different sources that mass executions have
taken place in Poland and it is reported from one source that 6,000 are killed daily. The Jews are required, before execution, to strip themselves of all clothing, which is then sent to Germany. The remaining Jews in Poland are now confined to approximately fifty-five ghettoes - in the old ghetto insofar as the larger towns are concerned, and in small places transformed into ghettoes in other localities. Some Jews, both Polish and those deported from other countries, are in labor camps in Silesia and Poland. No news is received from the ghettoes, although occasional reports are received from some people in the labor camp and in the Resienstadt. The ghetto in Poland is comparatively worse than the Resienstadt, insofar as those remaining and working there are concerned. The Resienstadt is a self-governing Jewish community under Edelstein, Stricker, Friedmann, Zucker, among others. No delegate is allowed to be sent to the Resienstadt by the International Red Cross. Reports about the situation in Germany indicate as of the end of November and the middle of December, that deportations are continuing. Special agents of the Gestapo, having completed the job of arranging deportations from Vienna, have been sent to Holland and Berlin for the purpose of speeding up the job in those localities. Female war workers in Berlin, whose parents have already been deported, were suddenly deported after arrest, and occasionally parents returned from work to find their children have been deported during their absence. About 2000 are in hiding, and there have been many cases of suicide. People who have been arrested, and whose deportation is pending are put in buildings which have neither furniture nor beds. Twenty-one members of the German Community Council and members of the German Jewish Representation who were arrested on November 9, and held as hostages have disappeared, and it is reported that eight of them have been shot in reprisal for the fleeing of some Jews from the locality.
Jews in Czechoslovakia, Germany and Austria are not allowed to buy live fish, poultry, vegetables or rationed food stuffs, and under a new order, the local authorities are empowered to withdraw their rationing cards. Thus, Jews in Berlin are unable to buy milk, meat or eggs. It is reported from Prague and Berlin that no Jews will be left in either city by the end of March.
Fildermann has filed a special report from Rumania stating that in the fall of 1941, 130,000 Rumanian Jews were deported to Trananistria. Of these, 15,000 came from the district of Dorohoi, 30,000 from Gernauti, 45,000 from Bessarabia, and 40,000 from other parts of Bucovina. During the summer of 1942, 6,000 were deported from other parts of Rumania. These deported people have been distributed among ninety places in five districts, and some of them are confined to ghettoes which are comparatively free Jewish settlements, while others are in labor camps. The living conditions are indescribable. They are deprived of all money, food stuffs and possessions, and are housed in deserted cellars, and occasionally twenty to thirty people sleep on the floor of one unheated room. Disease is rift, particularly spotted fever. These conditions have resulted in the death of approximately 60,000 while 70,000 are starving.
Fildermann insists that the community requires urgent assistance, because the Jews in old Rumania have been ejected from most provisions and property has been confiscated, and the have been deprived of money and are therefore unable to provide large amounts.
This report is signed by Richard Lichthim and Gerhars [sic] Riegner of Geneva, and is dated January 19, 1943."
Appendix 63 – US State Department Memo, February 1943
The State Department sends a memo to the American legation in Bern, on February 10, 1943, stating that in the future they not transmit reports to private citizens, since they "circumvent neutral countries' censorship."
PARAPHRASE OF TELEGRAM SENT
TO: American Legation, Bern
FROM: Secretary of State, No. 354
DATE: February 10, 1943
Your 482, January 21
In the future we would suggest that you do not accept reports submitted to you to be transmitted to private persons in the United States unless such action is advisable because of extraordinary circumstances. Such private messages circumvent neutral countries' censorship and it is felt that by sending them we risk the possibility that steps would necessarily be taken by the neutral countries to curtail or forbid our means of communication for confidential official matter.
Appendix 64 – Breckinridge Long Correspondence and Diary Entries
June 4, 1940
“Still engaged in preparation of papers, consultations with Justice and Labor and arranging final draft executive orders and telegrams to restrict the granting of visas and to stop up the holes of unauthorized immigrants into the United States. Provided the President signs the Executive Order we will dispatch a long telegram which will tighten up our Consular examinations of persons requesting visas all along the line…”
September 18, 1940
“A number of developments in our procedure in granting visas in [excess] of the quota have troubled me recently…” Long goes on to discuss how he wishes to take the power to grant visas away from the President’s Advisory Committee on Political Refugees (PACPR).
“I layed [sic] it before the Secretary [of State Cordell Hull], and he authorized me to present the whole matter to the attention of the President. I did this today in the form of a letter which reviewed the situation and asked his consent to change the procedure, which would place in our Consuls abroad rather than in the President’s Committee in New York the final determination as to whether the person was entitled to entry into the United States…And now it remains for the President’s Committee to be curbed in its activities so that the laws again can operate in their normal course.
I have felt that the procedure of extending visas to persons in the categories indicated was a perfectly legitimate practice provided the bars were not thrown down to the extent that the categories were expanded and a lot of person admitted to the United States in contravention of the law. I have been very careful to limit the authorization of visas to the end that the law be observed, and in my opinion a departure from this practice would be in effect to render the immigration laws nugatory.”
September 24, 1940
“A long session this evening with James G. McDonald and his man Warren and Welles. McDonald is very wroth at the limitation upon the activities of his Committee, which were set out in a letter sent to him by the Secretary. He looks upon me as an obstructionist and was very bitter and somewhat denunciatory. There were a few warm words between us, but it straightened out. He said he wanted to see the President, and I said I hoped he would and would lay the whole matter before him.”
Entry from Assistant Secretary of State Breckinridge Long's diary in which he notes that President Roosevelt supports his policy of encouraging consulates to "postpone and postpone and postpone" the granting of visas:
October 3, 1940
“About noon I had a long satisfactory conversation with the President on the subject of refugees. McDonald, Chairman of the President’s Advisory Committee on Refugees, has developed a very definite and violent antagonism to me. He thinks I have been non-cooperative and obstructive and has given evidence of his personal animosity. In a recent conversation in Mr. Welles’ office he indicated that he had a superlative ego and a vindictive mentality added to his disregard, to put it lightly, of me…”
“So when I saw him [Roosevelt] this morning the whole subject of immigration, visas, safety of the United States, procedures to be followed; and all that sort of thing was on the table. I found that he was 100% in accord with my ideas. He said that when Myron Taylor had returned from Europe recently the only thing which they discussed outside of Vatican matters was the visa and refugee situation and the manner in which our Consulates were being deprived of a certain amount of discretion by the rulings of the Department. It was these very things which created the recent difficulty between McDonald and myself, because we had reinvested the Consuls with their legitimate authority after having noted from our experiences in the other and more lax administration that we were admitting persons who should not properly come into the United States. The President expressed himself as in entire accord with the policy which would exclude persons about whom there was any suspicion that they would be inimical to the welfare of the United States no matter who had vouchsafed for them and irrespective of their financial or other standing. I left him with the satisfactory thought that he was whole-heartedly in support of the policy which would resolve in favor of the United States any doubts about admissibility of any individual…”
As the matter now stands, and I see no reason for there to be a change of policy, we will accept no reason for there to be a change of policy, we will accept assurances from certain organizations in the United States that persons will not be a public charge and that they will proceed to some other country at the expiration of a definite period of time. These statements will relieve the Consul of responsibility in these matters. However, when it comes to personal interviews with the applicant the Consul is reinvested with complete authority to determine as to whether or not in his judgment the person is of the character represented and as to whether or not he is a proper person to be admitted to the United States from the point of view of the best interests of the United States and the public safety.”
October 10, 1940
“The President first took up his conversation with McDonald of the President’s Advisory Committee. He said that he hadn’t had time to listen to McDonald and when he started condemning and criticizing me the President told him not to ‘pull any sob stuff’ on him and said that he knew enough about the situation to know that the Consuls abroad were not in sympathy with the policy and that he as President could not agree with any plan which would allow any organization in this country, whether it be Rabbi Wise, or McDonald, or William Green, to recommend finally that any person abroad whom they had not seen be admitted to this country. He said that he was sure the Consuls had to have, and he would insist upon their having, jurisdiction in these cases and that they should be passed upon individually.”
February 7, 1941
Undersecretary of State Breckinridge Long writes to Mr. Adolf Berle, also of the State Department:
“From time to time, some of our consuls, as is natural with any group of human beings with different reactions, have given different interpretations to the Department’s instructions. We have communicated with them directly by cablegram and by telephone in order to bring them in line with the Department’s policy. Our consulates in Germany, Switzerland, unoccupied France, and Portugal have been painstakingly supervised in this respect and are conforming to the pattern of the Department’s instructions.
“The requirements of the immigration law are specific. Irrespective of what the Department might desire, our policies are necessarily bound by the law in force. Aliens who are liable to become a public charge are inadmissible and, as such, are ineligible to receive visas. Neither the consul nor this Department in its administration of the law has any authority to grant visas to persons who are inadmissible into the country in any respect.”
Breckinridge Long Papers, US Library of Congress
Appendix 65 – Treasury Department Report on the Murder of Jews
“Report to the Secretary on the Acquiescence of this Government in the Murder of the Jews,” initialed by Randolph Paul for the Foreign Funds Control Unit of the Treasury Department, January 13, 1944.
One of the greatest crimes in history, the slaughter of the Jewish people in Europe, is continuing unabated.
This Government has for a long time maintained that its policy is to work out programs to serve those Jews of Europe who could be saved.
I am convinced on the basis of the information which is available to me that certain officials in our State Department, which is charged with carrying out this policy, have been guilty not only of gross procrastination and willful failure to act, but even of willful attempts to prevent action from being taken to rescue Jews from Hitler.
I fully recognize the graveness of this statement and I make it only after having most carefully weighed the shocking facts which have come to my attention during the last several months.
Unless remedial steps of a drastic nature are taken, and taken immediately, I am certain that no effective action will be taken by this government to prevent the complete extermination of the Jews in German controlled Europe, and that this Government will have to share for all time responsibility for this extermination.
The tragic history of the Government's handling of this matter reveals that certain State Department officials are guilty of the following:
(1) They have not only failed to use the Governmental machinery at their disposal to rescue Jews from Hitler, but have even gone so far as to use this Government machinery to prevent the rescue of these Jews.
(2) They have not only failed to cooperate with private organizations in the efforts of these organizations to work out individual programs of their own, but have taken steps designed to prevent these programs from being put into effect.
(3) They not only have failed to facilitate the obtaining of information concerning Hitler's plans to exterminate the Jews of Europe but in their official capacity have gone so far as to surreptitiously attempt to stop the obtaining of information concerning the murder of the Jewish population of Europe.
(4) The have tried to cover up their guilt by:
(a) concealment and misrepresentation;
(b) the giving of false and misleading explanations for their failures to act and their attempts to prevent action; and
(c) the issuance of false and misleading statements concerning the "action" which they have taken to date.
Although only part of the facts relating to the activities of the State Department in this field are available to us, sufficient facts have come to my attention from various sources during the last several months to fully support the conclusions at which I have arrived.
(1) State Department officials have not only failed to use the Governmental machinery at their disposal to rescue the Jews from Hitler, but have even gone so far as to use this Governmental machinery to prevent the rescue of these Jews.
The public record, let alone the facts which have not as yet been made pubic, reveals the gross procrastination and wilful failure to act of those officials actively representing this Government in this field.
(a) A long time has passed since it became clear that Hitler was determined to carry out a policy of exterminating the Jews in Europe.
(b) Over a year has elapsed since this Government and other members of the United Nations publicly acknowledged and denounced this policy of extermination; and since the President gave assurances that the United States would make every effort together with the United Nations to save those who could be saved.
(c) Despite the fact that time is most precious in this matter, State Department officials have been kicking the matter around for over a year without producing results; giving all sorts of excuses for delays upon delays; advancing no specific proposals designed to rescue Jews, at the same time proposing that the whole refugee problem be "explored" by this Government and Intergovernmental Committees. While the State Department has been thus "exploring" the whole refugee problem, without distinguishing between those who are in imminent danger of death and those who are not, hundreds of thousands of Jews have been allowed to perish.
As early as August 1942 a message form the Secretary of the World Jewish Congress in Switzerland (Riegner), transmitted through the British Foreign Office, reported that Hitler had under consideration a plan to exterminate all Jews in German controlled Europe. By November 1942 sufficient evidence had been received, including substantial documentary evidence transmitted though our Legation in Switzerland, to confirm that Hitler had actually adopted and was carrying out his plan to exterminate the Jews. Sumner Welles accordingly authorized the Jewish organizations to make the facts public.
Thereupon, the Jewish organizations took the necessary steps to bring the shocking facts to the attention of the public through mass meetings, etc. and to elicit public support for governmental action. On December 17, 1942, a joint statement of the United States and the European members of the United Nations was issued calling attention to and denouncing the fact that Hitler was carrying into effect his oft-repeated intention to exterminate the Jewish people in Europe.
Since the time when this government knew that the Jews were being murdered, our State Department has failed to take any positive steps reasonably calculated to save any of these people. Although State has used the device of setting up intergovernmental organizations to survey the whole refugee problem, and calling conferences such as the Bermuda Conference to explore the whole refugee problem, making it appear that positive action could be expected, in fact nothing has been accomplished.
Before the outcome of the Bermuda conference, which was held in April 1943, was made public, Senator Langer prophetically stated in an address in the Senate on October 6, 1943:
"As yet we have had no report from the Bermuda Refugee Conference. With the best good will in the world and with all latitude that could and should be accorded to diplomatic negotiations in time of war, I may be permitted to voice the bitter suspicion that the absence of a report indicates only one thing--the lack of action.
"Probably in all 5703 years, Jews have hardly had a time as tragic and hopeless as the one which they are undergoing now. One of the most tragic factors about the situation is that while singled out for suffering and martyrdom by their enemies, they seem to have been forgotten by the nations which claim to fight for the cause of humanity. WE should remember the Jewish slaughterhouse of Europe and ask what is being done--and I emphasize the word 'done'--to get some of these suffering human beings out of the slaughter while yet alive.
"*** Perhaps it would be necessary to introduce a formal resolution or to ask the Secretary of State t report to an appropriate congressional committee on the steps being taken in this connection. Normally it would have been the job of the Government to show itself alert to this tragedy; but when a government neglects a duty it is the job of the legislature in a democracy to remind it of that duty. *** It is not important who voices a call for action, and it is not important what procedure is being used in order to get action. It is important that action be undertaken."
Similar fears were voiced be Representatives Cellar, Dickstein, and Klein. Senator Wagner and Representative Sadowski also issued calls for action.
The widespread fears concerning the failure of the Bermuda Conference were fully confirmed when Breckinridge Long finally revealed some of the things that had happened at that Conference in his statement before the Committee of Foreign Affairs of the House on November 26, 1942.
After Long's "disclosure" Representative Cellar stated in the House on December 20, 1943:
"He discloses some of the things that happened at the so called Bermuda Conference. He thought he was telling us something heretofore unknown and secret. What happened at the Bermuda Conference could not be kept executive. All the recommendations and findings of the Bermuda Conference were made known to the Intergovernmental Committee of Refugees in 938 and which has been functioning all this time in London. How much has that Committee accomplished in the years of its being. It will be remembered that the Intergovernmental Committee functions through an executive committee composed of six countries, the United States, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, France, Brazil, and Argentina. True, no report of the Bermuda Conference was made public. But a strangely ironical fact will be noted in the presence of Argentina on this most trusted of committees, Argentina that provoked the official reprimand of President Roosevelt by its banning of the Jewish Press, and within whose borders Nazi propagandists and falangists now enjoy a Roman holiday. I contend that by the very nature of its composition the Intergovernmental Committee on Refugees cannot function successfully as the instrumentality to rescue the Jewish people of Europe. The benefits to be derived from the Bermuda Conference like those of the previous Evian Conference can fit into a tiny capsule."
One of the best summaries of the whole situation is contained in one sentence of a report submitted on December 20, 1943, by the Committee on Foreign Relations of the Senate, recommending the passage of a Resolution (S.R. 203) favoring the appointment of a commission to formulate plans to save the Jews of Europe from extinction by Nazi Germany. The Committee stated:
"We have talked; we have sympathized; we have expressed our horror; the time to act is long past due."
The Senate Resolution had been introduced be Senator Guy M. Gillettte in behalf of himself and eleven colleagues, Senators Taft, Thomas, Radcliffe, Murray, Johnson, Guffey, Ferguson, Clark, Van Nuys, Downey and Ellender.
The House Resolutions (H.R.'s 350 and 352), identical with the Senate Resolution, were introduced by Representatives Baldwin and Rogers.
The most glaring example of the use of the machinery of this Government to actually prevent the rescue of Jews is the administrative restrictions which have been placed upon the granting of visas to the United States. In the note which the State Department sent to the British on February 25, 1943 it was stated:
"Since the entry of the United States into the war there have been no new restrictions placed by the Government of the United States upon the number of aliens of any nationality permitted to proceed to this country under existing laws, except for the more intensive examination of aliens required for security reasons."
The exception "for security reason" mentioned in this note is the joker. Under the pretext of security reasons so many difficulties have been placed in the way of refugees obtaining visas that it is no wonder that the admission of refugees to this country does not come anywhere near the quote, despite Long's statement designed to create the impression to the contrary. The following administrative restrictions which have been applied to the issuance of visas since the beginning of the war are typical.
(a) Many applications for visas have been denied on the grounds that the applications have close relatives in Axis controlled Europe. The theory of this is that the enemy would be able to put pressure on the applicant as a result of the fact that the enemy has the power of life or death over his immediate family.
(b) Another restriction greatly increases the red tape and delay involved in getting the visa and requires among other things two affidavits of support and sponsorship to be furnished with each application for a visa. To each affidavit of support and sponsorship there must be attached two letters of reference from two reputable American citizens.
If anyone were to attempt to work out a set of restrictions specifically designed to prevent Jewish refugees from entering this country it is difficult to conceive of how more effective restrictions could have been imposed than have already been imposed on grounds of "security".
It is obvious of course that these restrictions are not essential for security reasons. Thus refugees upon arriving in this country could be placed in internment camps similar to those used for the Japanese on the West Coast and released only after a satisfactory investigation. Furthermore, even if we took these refugees and treated then as prisoners of war it would be better than letting them die.
Representative Dickstein stated in the House on December 15:
"If we consider the fact that the average admission would then be at the rate of less than 50,000 per year, it is clear that the organs of our Government have not done their duty. The existing quotas call for the admission of more than 150,000 every year, so that if the quotas themselves had been filled there would have been a total of one-half million and not 500,000 during the period mentioned.
"But that is not the whole story. There was no effect of any kind made to save from death many of the refugees who could have been saved during the rime that transportation lines were available and there was no obstacle to their admission to the United States. But the obstructive policy of our organs of Government, particularly the State Department, which saw fit to hedge itself about with rules and regulations, instead of lifting rules and regulations, brought about a condition so that not even the existing immigration quotas are filled."
Representative Celler stated in the House on June 30:
"Mr. Speaker, nations have declared war on Germany, and their high-ranking officials have issued pious protestations against the Nazi massacre of Jewish victims, but not one of these countries thus far has said they would be willing to accept these refugees either permanently or as visitors, or any of the minority peoples trying to escape the Hitler prison and slaughterhouse.
"Goebbels says: 'The United Nations won't take any Jews. We don't want them. Let's kill them.' And so he and Hitler are marking Europe Judentun.
"Without any change in our immigration statutes we could receive a reasonable number of those who are fortunate enough to escape the Nazi hellhole, receive them as visitors, the immigration quotas notwithstanding. They could be placed in camps or cantonments and held there in such havens until after the war. Private charitable agencies would be willing to pay the entire cost thereof. They would be no expense to the Government whatsoever. These agencies would even pay for transportation by ships to and from this country.
"We house and maintain Nazi prisoners, many of them undoubtedly responsible for Nazi atrocities. We should do no less for the victims of the rage of the Huns."
Again, on December 20, he stated:
"According to Earl G. Harrison, Commissioner of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, not since 1862 have there been fewer aliens entering the country.
"Frankly, Breckinridge Long, in my humble opinion, is least sympathetic to refugees in all the State Department. I attribute to him the tragic bottleneck in the granting of visas.
"The Interdepartmental Review Committees which review the applications for visas are composed of one official, respectively, from each of the following Departments: War, Navy, F.B.I. State, and Immigration. That committee has been glacier-like in its slowness and coldbloodedness. It takes months and months to grant the visas and then it usually applies to a corpse.
"I brought this difficulty to the attention of the President. He asked Long to investigate at once. No, there has been no change in conditions. The gruesome bottleneck still exists."
(2) State Department officials have not only failed to cooperate with private organizations in the efforts of these organizations to work out individuals programs of their own, but have taken steps designed to prevent these programs from behind out into effect.
The best evidence in support of this charge are the facts relating to the proposal of the World Jewish Congress to evacuate thousands of Jews from Rumania and France. The highlights relating to the efforts of State Department officials to prevent this proposal from being put into effect are the following:
(a) On March 13, 1942, a cable was received from the World Jewish Congress representatives in London stating that information reaching London indicated the possibility of rescuing Jews provided funds were put at the disposal of the world Jewish Congress representation in Switzerland.
(b) On April 10, 1943, Sumner Welles cabled our Legation in Bern and requested them to get in touch with the World Jewish Congress representative in Switzerland, whom Welles had been informed was in possession of important information regarding the situation of the Jews.
(c) On April 20, 1943, a cable was received from Bern relating to the proposed financial arrangements in connection with the evacuation of the Jews from Rumania and France.
(d) On May 25, 1943, State Department cabled for a clarification of these proposed financial arrangements. This matter was not called to the attention of the Treasury Department at this time.
(e) This whole question of financing the evacuation of the Jews from Rumania and France was first called to the attention of the Treasury Department on June 25, 1943.
(f) A conference was held with the State Department relating to this matter on July 15, 1943.
(g) One day after this conference, on July 16, 1943, the Treasury Department advised the State Department that it was prepared to issue in this matter.
(h) The license was not issued until December 13, 1943.
During this five months period between the time that the Treasury stated that it was prepared to issue a license and the time when the license was actually issued delays and objections of all sorts were forthcoming from officials in the State Department, our Legation in Bern, and finally the British. The real significance of these delays and objections was brought home to the State Department in letters which you sent to Secretary Hull on November 24, 1943, and December 17, 1943, which completely devastated the "excuses" which State Department officials had been advancing. On December 10 you made an appointment to discuss the matter with Secretary Hull on December 20. And then an amazing but understandable thing happened. On December 13, the day after you sent your letter and the day on which you requested an appointment with Secretary Hull, the State Department sent a telegram to the British Foreign Office expressing astonishment with the British point of view and stating that the Department was unable to agree with that pint of view (in simple terms, the British point of view referred to by the State Department is that they are apparently prepared to accept the possible--even probable-- death of thousands of Jews in enemy territory because of the difficulties of disposing of any considerable number of Jews should they be rescued.) On the same day, the State Department issued a license notwithstanding the fact that the objections of our Legation in Bern were still outstanding and that British disapproved had already been expressed. State Department officials were in such a hurry to issue this license that they not only did not ask the Treasury to draft the license (which would have been the normal procedure) but they drafted the license themselves and issued it without even consulting the Treasury as to its terms. Informal discussions with certain State Department officials have confirmed what is obvious from the above mentioned facts.
Breckinridge Long knew that his position was so indefensible that he was unwilling to even try to defend it at your pending conference with Secretary Hull on December 20. Accordingly, he took such action as he felt was necessary to "cover up" his previous position in this matter. It is, of course, clear that if we had not made the record against the State Department followed by your request to see Secretary Hull, the action which the State Department officials took on December [ill.] could either never have been taken at all or would have been delayed so long that any benefits which it might have had would have been lost.
(3) State Department officials not only have failed to facilitate the obtaining of in formation concerning Hitler's plans to exterminate the Jews of Europe but in their official capacity have gone so far as to surreptitiously attempt to stop the obtaining of information concerning the murder of the Jewish population in Europe.
The evidence supporting this conclusion is so shocking and so tragic that it is difficult to believe.
The facts are as follows:
(2) Sumner Welles as Acting Secretary of State requests confirmation of Hitler's plan to exterminate the Jews. Having already received various reports on the plight of the Jews, on October 5, 1942, Sumner Welles as Acting Secretary of State sent a cable (2314) for the personal attention of Minister Harrison in Bern stating that leaders of the Jewish Congress had received reports from their representatives in Geneva and London to the effect that many thousands of Jews in Eastern Europe were being slaughtered pursuant to a policy embarked upon by the German Government for the complete extermination of the Jews in Europe. Welles added that he was trying to obtain further information from the Vatican but that other than this he was unable to secure confirmation of these stories. He stated that Rabbi Wise believed that information was available to his representatives in Switzerland but that they were in all likelihood fearful of dispatching any such reports through open cables or mail. He then stated that Riegner and Lichtheim were being requested by Wise to call upon Minister Harrison; and Welles requested Minster Harrison to advise him by telegram of all the evidence and facts which he might secure as a result of conference with Riegner and Lichtheim.
(b) State Department receives confirmation and shocking evidence that the extermination was being rapidly and effectively carried out. Pursuant to Welles' cable of October 5 Minister Harrison forwarded documents from Riegner confirming the fact of extermination of the Jews (in November 1942), and in a cable of January 21, 1942 (482) relayed a message from Riegner and Lichtheim which Harrison stated was for the information of the Under Secretary of State (and was to be transmitted to Rabbi Stephen Wise if the Under Secretary should so determine). This message described a horrible situation concerning the plight of Jews in Europe. It reported mass executions of Jews in Poland; according to one source 6,000 Jews were being killed daily; the Jews were required before execution to strip themselves of all their clothing which was then sent to Germany; the remaining Jews in Poland were confined to ghettos, etc.; in Germany deportations were continuing; many Jews were in hiding and there had been many cases of suicide; Jews were being deprived of rationed foodstuffs; no Jews would be left in Prague or Berlin by the end of March, etc.; and in Rumania 130,000 Jews were deported to Transnistria; about 60,000 had already died and the remaining 70,000 were starving; living conditions were indescribable; Jews were deprived of all their money, foodstuffs and possessions; they were housed in deserted cellars, and occasionally twenty to thirty people slept on the floor of one unheated room; disease was prevalent, particularly fever; urgent assistance was needed.
(c) Sumner Welles furnishes this information to the Jewish organizations. Sumner Welles furnished the documents received in November to the Jewish organizations in the United States and authorized them to make the facts public. On February 9, 1943 Welles forwarded the horrible message contained in cable 432 of January 21 to Rabbi Stephen Wise. In his letter of February 9 Welles stated that he was pleased to be of assistance in this matter.
Immediately upon the receipt of this message, the Jewish organizations arranged for a public mass meeting in Madison Square Garden in a further effort to obtain effective action.
(d) Certain State Department officials surreptitiously attempt to stop this Government from obtaining further information from the very source from which the above evidence was received. On February 10, the day after Welles forwarded the message contained in cable 482 of January 21 to Rabbi Wise, and in direct response to this cable, a most highly significant cable was dispatched. This cable, 354 of February 10, read as follows:
"Your 482, January
"In the future we would suggest that you do not accept reports submitted to you to be transmitted to private persons in the United States unless such action is advisable because of extraordinary circumstances. Such private messages circumvent neutral countries' censorship and it is felt that by sending them we risk the possibility that steps would necessarily be taken by the neutral countries to curtail of forbid our means of communication for confidential official matter.
Although this cable on its face is most innocent and innocuous, when read together with the previous cables, I am forced to conclude it is nothing less than an attempted suppression of information requested by this Government concerning the murder of Jews by Hitler.
Although this cable was signed for Hull "SW" (Sumner Welles) it is significant that there is not a word in the cable that would even suggest to the person signing it that it was designed to countermand the Department's specific requests for information on Hitler's plans to exterminate the Jews. The cable appeared to be a normal routine message which a busy official would sign without question.
I have been informed that the initialed file copy of the cable bears the initials of Atherton and Dunn as well as of Durbrow and Hickerson.
(c) Thereafter Sumner Welles again requested our Legation on April 10, 1943 (cable 877) for information, apparently not realizing that in cable 354 (to which he did not refer) Harrison had been instructed to cease forwarding reports of this character. Harrison replied on April 20 (cable 2460) and indicated that he was in a most confused state of mind as a result of the conflicting instructions he had received. Among other things he stated: " May I suggest that messages of this character should not (repeat not) be subjected to the restriction imposed by your 354, February 10, and that I be permitted to transmit messages from more particularly in view of the helpful information which they may frequently contain?"
The fact that cable 354 is not the innocent and routine cable that it appears to be on its face is further highlighted by the efforts of State Department officials to prevent this Department from obtaining the cable and learning its true significance.
The facts relating to this attempted concealment are as follows:
(i) Several men in our Department had requested States Department officials for a copy of the cable of February 10 (354). We had been advised that it was a Department communication; a strictly political communication, which had nothing to do with economic matters; that it had only had a very limited distribution within the Department, the only ones having anything to do with it being the European Division, the Political Advisor and Sumner Welles; and that a copy could not be furnished to the Treasury.
(ii) At the conference in Secretary Hull's office on December 20 in the presence of Breckinridge Long you asked Secretary Hull for a copy of cable 354, which you were told would be furnished to you.
(iii) By note to you of December 30, Breckinridge Long enclosed a paraphrase of able 354. This paraphrase of cable 354 specifically omitted any reference to cable 482 of January 21--thus destroying the only tangible clue to the true meaning of the message.
(iv) You would never have learned the true meaning of cable 354 had it not been for the fact that one of the men in my office whom I had asked to obtain al the facts on this matter for me had previously called one of the men in another Division of the State Department and requested permission to see the cable. In view of the Treasury interest in this matter this State Department representative obtained cable 354 and the cable of January 21 to which it referred and showed these cables to my man.
(4) The State Department officials have tried to cover up their guilt by:
(a) concealment and misrepresentation
In addition to concealing the true facts from and misrepresenting these facts to the public, State Department officials have even attempted concealment and misrepresentation within the government. The most striking example of this is the above mentioned action taken by State Department officials to prevent this Department from obtaining a copy of cable 354 of February 10 (which stopped the obtaining of information concerning the murder of Jews); and the fact that after you had requested a copy of this cable, State Department officials forwarded the cable to us with its most significant part omitted, thus destroying the whole meaning of the cable.
(b) the giving of false and misleading explanations for their failures to act and their attempts to prevent action.
The outstanding explanation of a false and misleading nature which the State Department officials have given for their failures to work out programs to rescue Jews, and their attempts to prevent action, are the following:
(i) The nice sounding but vicious theory that the whole refugee problem must be explored and consideration given to working out programs for the relief of all refugees--thus failing to distinguish between those refugees whose lives are in imminent danger and those whose lives are not in imminent danger.
(ii) The argument that various proposals cannot be acted upon promptly by this Government but must be submitted to the Executive Committee of the Intergovernmental Committee on Refugees. This Committee has taken no effective action to actually evacuate refugees from enemy territory and it is at least open to doubt whether it has the necessary authority to deal with the matter.
(iii) The argument that the extreme restrictions which the State Department has placed on the granting of visas to refugees is necessary for "security reason." The falsity of this argument has already been dealt with in this memorandum.
The false and misleading explanations which the State Department officials gave for delaying for over six months the program of the World Jewish Congress for the evacuation of thousands of Jews from Rumania and France, are dealt with in your letter to Secretary Hull of December 17, 1943.
A striking example is the argument of the State Department officials that the proposed financial arrangements might benefit the enemy. It is of course not surprising that the same State Department officials who usually argue that economic considerations are not important should in this particular case attempt to rely on economic warfare considerations to kill the proposed programs.
In this particular case, the State Department officials attempted to argue that the relief plan might benefit the enemy by facilitating the acquisition of funds by the enemy. In addition to the fact that this contention had no merit whatsoever by virtue of the conditions under which the local funds were to be acquired, it is significant that this consideration had not been regarded as controlling in the past by the State Department officials, even where no such conditions had been imposed.
Thus, in cases involving the purchase, by branches of United States concerns in Switzerland, of substantial amounts of material in enemy territory, State Department officials have argued that in view of the generous credit supplied by the Swiss to the Germans "transactions of this type cannot be regarded as actually increasing the enemy's purchasing power in Switzerland which is already believed to beat a maximum". It is only when these State Department officials really desire to prevent a transaction that they advance economic warfare considerations as a bar.
(c) the issuance of false and misleading statements concerning the "action" which they have taken to date.
It is unnecessary to go beyond Long's testimony to find many examples of misstatements. His general pious remarks concerning what this Government has done for the Jews of Europe; his statement concerning the powers and functions of the Intergovernmental Committee on Refugees; his reference to the "screening process" set up to insure wartime security, etc., have already been publicly criticized as misrepresentations.
A statement which is typical of the way Long twists facts is his remarks concerning the plan of a Jewish agency to send money to Switzerland to be used through the International Red Cross to buy food to take care of Jews in parts of Czechoslovakia and Poland. Long indicates that the Jewish agency requested that the money be sent through the instrumentality of the Intergovernmental Committee. I am informed that the Jewish agency wished to send the money immediately to the International Red Cross and it was Long who took the position that the matter would have to go through the Intergovernmental Committee, thereby delaying the matter indefinitely. Long speaks of an application having been filled with the Treasury to send some of this money and that the State Department was supporting this application to the Treasury. The facts are that no application has ever been filed with the Treasury that it would support any such application.
The most patent instance of a false and misleading statement is that part of Breckinridge Long's testimony before the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the House (November 26, 1943) relating to the admittance of refugees into this country. Thus, he stated:
"*** We have taken into this country since the beginning of the Hitler regime and the persecution of the Jews , until today, approximately 580,000 refugees. The whole thing has been under the quota, during the period of 10 years--all under the quota--except the generous gesture we made with visitors' and transit visas during an awful period."
Congressman Emanuel Celler in commenting upon Long's statement in the House on December 20, 1943, stated:
"***In the first place these 580,000 refugees were in the main ordinary quota immigrants coming in from all countries. The majority were not Jews. His statement drips with sympathy for the persecuted Jews, but the tears he sheds are crocodile. I would like to ask him how many Jews were admitted during the last 3 years in comparison with the number seeking entrance to preserve life and dignity. *** One gets the impression from Long's statement that the United States has gone out of its way to help refugees fleeing death at the hands of the Nazis. I deny this. On the contrary, the State Department has turned its back on the time-honored principle of granting havens to refugees. The tempest-tossed get little comfort from men like Breckinridge Long. *** Long says that the door to the oppressed is open but that it 'has been carefully screened.' What he should have said is 'barlocked and bolted.' By the act of 1924, we are permitted to admit approximately 150,000 immigrants each year. During the last fiscal year only 23,725 came as immigrants. Of these only 4,705 were Jews fleeing Nazi persecution.
"If men of the temperament and philosophy of Long continue in control of immigration administration, we may as well take down that plaque from the Statue of Liberty and black out the 'lamp beside the golden door.'"