Washington (May. 15)
If the International Refugee Organization does not begin functioning by July 1, the military government in Germany will have little voice but to close the displaced persons camps and declare the residents to be numbers of the German or Austrian communities, Assistant Secretary of State John Hilldring told a House sub-committee which opened hearings this morning on the resolution to permit U.S. participation in the I.R.O.
He said he relied on the judgement of Rabbi Philip S. Bernstein, special advisor on Jewish problems to the American military governor, who reported that the Jewish DP’s "almost to a man" want to go to Palestine. The 250,000 Jewish DPs in Germany, Austria and Italy represent 20 to 25 percent of the total number of DPs in Europe, he said, and it would help if they could be allowed to go to Palestine.
There is great discontent among the displaced persons, he said, because of their long wait to find new homes where they can begin life anew. In answer to a question of Rep. Frances P. Bolton, Ohio Republican, as to whether this was partially a reelection of the German and Austrian peoples’ wish to be rid of them, Hilldring said "there isn’t any doubt of it."
STATE DEPT. TO ANNOUNCE NUMBER OF DP’S IT THINKS SHOULD BE ADMITTED TO U.S.
Mrs. Bolton then asked Hilldring what figure the State Department had in mind as to the appropriate number of displaced persons to be admitted to the United States. Hilldring said the figure had not yet been cleared with President Truman but that it might be within the next few days.
In response to intensive questioning by sub-committee member Jacob Javits, New York Republican, Hilldring pointed out:
Participation in the I.R.O. would not eliminate our responsibility toward the solution of the refugee problem, but it would put proper emphasis on the fact that the whole question is a matter of international responsibility and one which can only be solved by all countries opening their doors to resettlement.
U.S. officials are satisfied that some 100,000 Polish DP’s, mostly Jews, who fled into the American zone since the liberation, were "legitimately fleeing because of fear." It is "unrealistic now to criticize the officials who operated on that theory," he said.
He saw no commitment "moral or otherwise" to change our immigration laws should we join the I.R.O. As a matter of fact, he said, it would tend to reduce the pressures now exerted on us to take some of the refugees.
The administration has proposed two amendments to the I.R.O. resolution. One would authorize the War Department to retain certain personnel, now engaged in DP work, until such time as I.R.O. can assume full responsibility. These workers, who might be retained for a maximum of six months, would be paid out of I.R.O. funds.
Another amendment would approve the functioning of the I.R.O. Preparatory Commission in the event that not enough countries had signed and ratified the charter by July 1 to permit operation of the I.R.O. In terms of the amendment, Congress would authorize that funds designated to go to the I.R.O. would go to the Preparatory Commission during the interim period.