WARM SPRINGS, Ga. (Nov. 28)
Seeking first hand information on which to proceed in formulating a more determined policy toward authoritarian states in Europe, President Roosevelt today continued a conference begun last night with Ambassadors Hugh Wilson and William Phillips, just returned from Berlin and Rome where racial and religious persecutions have greatly concerned the administration in Washington and brought relations with Germany and Italy to the breaking point.
So delicate have those relations become as a result of the reported atrocities in Germany that associates of President Roosevelt recalled to reporters assigned to cover his activities that the Chief Executive was as much concerned over persecution of Catholic and Protestant sects in Europe as with the oppressive measures taken in both dictatorship countries to restrict activities of resident Jews.
The American ambassadors to Germany and Italy declined to talk about conditions in the central and southern European states before or after last night’s four-hour discussion at the “little White House” here, except to indicate that American relations with both foreign powers had been discussed.
For political reasons, President Roosevelt has consistently avoided championing the cause of any one minority group and little surprise was occasioned by the information from little White House circles that Mr. Roosevelt wanted it understood that persecution of Christian sects abroad concerned him as much as the more dramatic Jewish oppression in Germany and Italy in recent months. Once before the White House had taken occasion to explain that the intervention of Mr. Roosevelt in affairs of Germany and Italy had been based on religious as well as racial discrimination and persecution. The first such statement from the White House came after the President had expressed himself in a press conference as having been deeply shocked by “the news from Germany” in the two days preceding.
The presence of Ambassador Wilson gave the President an opportunity to go into the problem of Germany’s attitude toward the servicing of debts owned in the United States by the Austrian Government which it suppressed when it took possession of that country in violation of the Versailles Treaty. About $50,000,000 of Austrian obligations are estimated to be held in this country, remaining chiefly from 1920 relief loans and the effort ten years later to bolster the financial position of that nation.
When the two ambassadors emerged from last night’s discussion with the President shortly before midnight neither of them would comment on their conference except to say Mr. Roosevelt had shown a keen interest in their observations and that he had asked them to return to the temporary White House for a luncheon discussion today.
There was indication that the President might undertake in the near future to clarify the attitude of this Government toward foreign powers engaging in oppressive practices toward racial and religious minorities, but when this might occur was not disclosed.