New York (Jan. 24)
Assistant Secretary of State Archibald MaoLeish, in a statement to the Jewish Labor Committee made public today, emphasized that the United States Government is doing everything possible to minimize the threats to the surviving Jews in occupied Europe and has persistently sought to induce the German Government to grant to interned Jews the status of civilian internees whose treatment is similar to that of war prisoners.
The statement came in reply to an appeal sent by the Jewish Labor Committee to the State Department urging that the U.S. Government act at once to save the remnants of the Jewish people interned in German concentration camps. It reads:
“The War Refugee Board with the cooperation of the Department of State has made every possible effort to induce the German authorities to grant to refugees held in concentration camps the status of civilian internees, whose treatment is assimilated to that of prisoners of war outlined in the Geneva Convention. Civilian internees, as you know, are the nationals of an enemy power interned because of their nationality by a government within whose territory they are found.
“All interventions on behalf of this principle through the protecting power Switzerland and the Vatican have to date been rejected by the Germans on the ground that the treatment of these refugees is a matter of internal administration. In this connection, it should be pointed out that the Germans, as a matter of principle, refuse to accord the status of civilian internees to the nationals of United Nations Governments in Europe which they do not recognize because until recently they have been in complete occupation of their territories.
“Much more has been accomplished in the alleviation of the distress of refugees through the distribution of food packages to an increasing number of concentration camps through the International Committee of the Red Cross. The International Committee of the Red Cross has access to many, but unfortunately not all of the concentration camps in occupied Europe. Some of the camps in Poland have not yet been reached. Conditions with respect to deliveries of food packages are constantly changing and dependence must be placed on the resourcefulness of the International Committee of the Red Cross to reach the largest possible numbers as opportunities provide. This Department is giving all possible assistance to the International Committee.
“Further warnings to the Germans to cease persecutions, deportations and exterminations must be considered in the light of timing and circumstance. As you know, such a warning was recently issued by General Eisenhower. You may rest assured that the matter of further warnings is under constant consideration and that such warnings will be issued whenever they offer some prospect of effective results. The liberation of the oppressed of Europe will come primarily, as we all recognize, from the effective action of our armed forces in destroying those who have so ruthlessly visited these cruelties on innocent victims.”