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Intergovernmental Committee Authorized to Initiate Direct Negotiations with Germany

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Direct negotiations with the Germans for the release of Jews and other persecuted peoples can be undertaken by the Intergovernmental Committee on Refugees under a new mandate now awaiting approval by 49 United Nations and neutrals.

This is an authoritative interpretation given here today of the text made public last week by Assistant Secretary of State Breckenridge Long and Chairman Sol Bloom of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the House of Representatives. Ordinarily, warring nations only approach one another through neutral intermediaries.

Whether the Germans will deal with an international body that includes their enemies is another question. According to the best opinion available here, they will probably refuse. But at least an attempt will be made.

The Intergovernmental Committee has been working quietly since the Evian Conference of 1938. At the Anglo-American meeting on refugees at Bermuda, last Spring, it was decided to strengthen the committee by extending its work to “all countries from which refugees come as a result of the war in Europe or in which they may find refuge.” That is understood to include Germany, it was learned today.

The proposed mandate was a secret until last week, when the State Department obtained permission from the countries involved to publish Long’s previously confidential testimony before the Foreign Relations Committee. The Committee is still considering the Baldwin-Rogers bill to create a U. S. Government commission for the rescue of Jews. Now that the new scope of the Intergovernmental Committee has been disclosed, most members of the House group believe that a new body is unnecessary.

RUSSIA INVITED TO JOIN INTERGOVERNMENTAL COMMITTEE ON REFUGEES

The Intergovernmental Committee contains 32 countries, including the United States, Britain, Switzerland, Sweden and Argentina. Another 17, including – it is believed – the Soviet Union, Spain and Turkey, have been invited to join. Negotiations with these governments are still in progress.

When all the most important countries have consented, it is expected that nine branch offices of the committee will be set up in areas nearest the source of refugees. It is felt that a branch office of the committee is not needed here at this time. Myron J. Taylor, President Roosevelt’s special envoy to the Vatican, is our representative on the committee but spends most of his time in this country. The committee sits at London, where Ambassador John Winant usually substitutes for Taylor.

This country’s relations with the Intergovernmental Committee are handled through a separate unit of the State Department’s Visa Division. According to Long’s testimony, George Louis Brandt, his executive assistant; Robert Borden Reams of the State Department’s European Division and Howard K. Travers, Chief of the Visa Division form a council which confers with him almost every day on refugee problems.

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