Bermuda Conference Considers Plan to Establish Refugee “clearing House”
Menu JTA Search

Bermuda Conference Considers Plan to Establish Refugee “clearing House”

Download PDF for this date

A plan to establish a refugee “clearing house” somewhere outside of Europe, to which refugees from Nazi persecution may be transported from neutral countries on the Continent now harboring them and from which they may be gradually transplanted to permanent havens, is under consideration by the Anglo-American conference here, it was learned today.

Authors of the plan, which so far has been sketched only in the broadest outlines, are Foreign Secretary Anthony Eden and Undersecretary of State Sumner Welles, who are believed to have formulated it during the British statesman’s recent visit to Washington. The Eden-Welles proposal, which is in the nature of an “immediate help” measure, would enable the neutral countries now sheltering refugees to admit more of them as the first exiles were shipped to the “clearing house,” thus assuring a constant flow of Nazi victims from Europe.

Among the possible sites of the “clearing house” are the Cyrenaican peninsula in eastern Libya, the island of Mauritius in the Indian Ocean east of Madagascar Madagascar itself, the British colony of Kenya in East Africa, and Jamaica in the Caribbean. In deciding on the location of the temporary haven, it is believed the conferees will keep in mind considerations which demand that any clearing house be at the shortest possible distance from the “vacuums.” North Africa, a “clearing house” site originally suggested, will probably be excluded by the American delegation out of military considerations.

On the subject of transportation, one of the most important considerations, American and British spokesmen are emphatically agreed that there are no possibilities at present for diverting any Allied shipping for use in transporting refugees. The conferees, however, are exploring the possibilities of enlisting the shipping of neutrals. (Diplomatic circles in Washington have pointed out that neutral Sweden has 150,000 tons of shipping available for the rescue of refugees or their relief inside Europe. Ships may also be obtained from Portugal, Spain and Turkey.)


It was understood, meanwhile, that proposals by a joint committee {SPAN}representi{/SPAN} Jewish organizations in the United States, suggesting that Germany be asked through neutral powers to release Jews or to exchange them for German nationals held by the Allies, were not considered within the scope of the present conference on the ground, that military considerations were involved. The proposals, however, are being discussed.

As the conference drew to the end of its first week, there appeared to be only one major disagreement between the three-man American and British delegations. This is a difference on the question of to whom their respective governments will entrust the administration of any rescue plan which might be adopted by the conferees. A British spokesman has indicated that the British delegation favors creation of a new body to replace the Intergovernmental Refugee Committee, formed at Evian, France, in 1938 and originally consisting of 32 governments.

The British think the committee ought to be scrapped because of its ineffectiveness, the limitations of its mandate, its loss of prestige and the fact that France is no longer a member. The American delegation, on the other hand, while conceding the inadequacy of the committee and its defects, and agreeing to the necessity of changes, thinks the committee should be continued with a broadened mandate that would revitalize it.

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