U.S. Government Deeply Interested in Treatment of Jews and Other Minorities in European Countries
Menu JTA Search

U.S. Government Deeply Interested in Treatment of Jews and Other Minorities in European Countries

Download PDF for this date

(Jewish Daily Bulletin)

It is understood from quarters close to the Secretary of State that Secretary Kellogg did not intend to convey the impression that the United States Government is not concerned about the ill treatment of Jews in Roumania or minorities in any country, in his statement a few days ago regarding Congressman Celler’s resolution asking for official Government supervision of foreign loans. The Secretary only meant to bring out the point that the United States cannot take any official step to intervene on behalf of inhabitants of any foreign country who are not American citizens.

Secretary Kellogg, it is understood, takes the position that the Hay note of 1902 to Roumania and the abrogation of the Russian Treaty of 1911 involved the right of Jewish American citizens to freedom of movement and the transaction of business in those countries, but not the treatment of other Jews by these Governments.

The United States is prevented from interfering in purely domestic affairs of other countries by the International Law which governs comity between nations. The appointment of Benjamin Peixotto in 1870 as Consul to Roumania and his subsequent action in intervening on behalf of persecuted Jews in that country jointly with various other powers is also not considered by Secretary Kellogg as a precedent contrary to this policy of non-intervention for two reasons: first, Roumanian Jews were at that time a people without a country and not recognized as citizens by Roumania; second, Roumania was not at that time an independent Government but a vassal state of the Ottoman Empire.

By the Treaty of 1919 known as the Roumanian Minorities Treaty, according to article seven of that treaty, Roumania undertook to recognize as Roumanian nationals ipso facto and without requirement of any formality Jews inhabiting any Roumanian territory who do not possess other nationality. Jews of Roumania are now, therefore recognized as citizens and any official action by the United States regarding these Jews would be construed as an intervention with respect to Roumania’s own citizens.

It was strongly emphasized, however, by those in close touch with Secretary Kellogg, that the United States has kept in closest touch with the situation of Jews in Roumania, has taken under the most serious consideration the representations of various American Jewish bodies regarding their illtreatment and the United States Government has done everything within its power and within bounds of diplomatic propriety to secure an alleviation of the situation.

It was, therefore, declared that Secretary Kellogg’s recent statement should, under no circumstances, be interpreted as a declaration of a new policy in any wise departing from the traditional feeling of sympathy for oppressed Jews in foreign countries; that, on the contrary, there is nothing new in Secretary Kellogg’s statement, but merely a reiteration of what has always been the fact, namely, that the United States cannot intervene in the purely domestic affairs of foreign countries.

The Jewish Daily Bulletin correspondent learns that Secretary Kellogg’s statements on this subject were not made in writing or of his own initiative, but informally and orally at two of his regular daily conferences with press correspondents, one on Thursday, April 5 and the other on Saturday, April 7.

It is understood that the circumstances were as follows: At the first mentioned conference a correspondent inquired whether our Government had been advised that New York bankers are negotiating a $60,000,000 loan for Roumania, Secretary Kellogg said he had not been advised of such negotiations. He added that the Department has been advised that the subject of stabilizing the Roumanian currency was being discussed.

A correspondent then asked whether the Department is hopeful, in view of the representations made to it in the last two or three years as to the conditions in Roumania, that the treaties will be more fully enforced as to the minorities than previously. The Secretary said we, that is, the United States Government, never had a treaty with Roumania as to these minorities.

The correspondent then stated that Congressman Dickstein inserted in the Congressional Record a speech he made quoting from Secretary Hay a certain protest to the Roumanian government, Secretary Kellogg replied that he never protested to Roumania or any government about their treatment of foreign minorities who were citizens of those countries and we have no treaty with them on this subject.

At the second conferece on April 7th, a correspondent observed that Congressman Celler had introduced a resolution providing for the creation of a committee of five to discuss the general question of our foreign loan policy with a view toward regularizing that policy to include supervision of all foreign loans. The Secretary said that he noticed the resolution referred to the American Government’s foreign loan policy as the “Kellogg Plan” and recalled that the present loan policy has been in existence practically since the War and he, as Secretary of State, had not changed this policy in the slightest. He also observed that for the Federal Government to attempt an actual supervision over every American loan in foreign countries would be a considerable task at the present time. The State Department simply indicates its attitude when asked by bankers whether the Department has objections to a particular loan from the standpoint of foreign policy.

A correspondent observed that Congressman Celler’s resolution was aimed principally at the Roumanian Loan on account of Congressman Celler’s attitude toward anti-Semitic activities in Roumania.

Secretary Kellogg pointed out that this government never attempted to dictate to another Government its policies toward minorities which were citizens of those countries. He added that in a general way the people who were now advocating that we endeavor to protect minorities in foreign countries were the very people who were objecting to the United States protecting its own citizens in foreign countries.

It has been subsequently learned by the Jewish Daily Bulletin correspondent that the policy of the Government regarding foreign loans is based on a gentleman’s agreement reached between the State Department and all the bankers handling foreign loans, whereby the bankers have agreed that they would not make any foreign loans without first notifying and obtaining the State Department’s approval. This agreement has no legal effect and any of the bankers could, without violating any law, disregard the agreement. However, in point of fact, the agreement has never being violated, the bankers having always carefully observed it. The Jewish Daily Bulletin correstpondent also learns that as stated by Secretary Kellogg at the Press conference, the State Department has never been approachd by bankers regarding a proposed $60,000,000 Roumanian loan.

In reliable circles here extreme doubt was expressed as to whether bankers will take sufficient interest in this proposed loan to even approach the State Department about it, owing to the disturbances in Roumania caused by the ill treatment of Jews. Such disturbances always have the effect, it was stated, of adversely affecting the desirability of a foreign loan.

It was not indicated what attitude the State Department will take if it is approached by bankers regarding the proposed Roumanian loan, but it is clear from Secretary Kellogg’s statement that he referred only to Congressman Celler’s resolution to create a special committee regarding loans and did not commit himself as to what attitude the State Department will adopt if approached by bankers prusuant to the present gentleman’s agreement still in effect.

It was repeatedly emphasized in quarters close to Secretary Kellogg that it was furthest from his intentions to create the slightest impression that the United States Government is indifferent to the treatment of Jews in Roumania but meant only to point out in response to the queries about the Celler resolution, the technical limitations restricting the United States in any attitude it might adopt in the matter.

Founding Funders

The digitization of the JTA Archive would not have been possible without the generous support of the following donors:
  • The Gottesman Fund
  • Righteous Persons Foundation
  • Charles H. Revson Foundation
  • Elisa Spungen Bildner and Robert Bildner, in honor of Norma Spungen
  • George S. Blumenthal
  • Grace and Scott Offen Charitable Fund