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German Lauds Russia for Joining Intergovernmental Committee for Refugees

February 23, 1944
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Herbert H. Lehman, Director General of the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration, today issued a statement lauding the decision of the Russian Government to join the Intergovernmental Committee for Refugees.

The statement was made in connection with the announcement that an arrangement has been reached between the Jewish Telegraphic Agency and the Jewish press in Moscow, under which Jewish publications in Russia will, for the first time since the Soviet Revolution, receive JTA cables from the United States, Palestine and other countries depicting Jewish life there. This is the first time that any publication in the U.S.S.R. has been permitted to receive cabled news directly from any foreign news agency.

Russia’s decision to join the Intergovernmental Committee for Refugees marks the country’s entrance into the international effort to alleviate the plight of refugees during and after the war. At the time when the Intergovernmental Committee was established at the Evian Conference in 1938, the Soviet Union was not invited to participate. Since the outbreak of the war hundreds of thousands of Jews from Poland, Rumania and the Baltic countries have been given shelter in the U.S.S.R., and many of them were permitted to pass through Russia en route to the United States and to Palestine.

The arrangement under which Jewish Telegraphic Agency news will be cabled to Jewish publications in Russia is a result of the increased interest on the part of Jews in Russia in Jewish life and achievements in other countries. This interest was indicated several months ago when a Jewish cultural delegation was sent to the United States and England, composed of Prof. Solomon Mikhoels and Col. Itzik Fafer.


Pointing out that the resumption of communications between the Jewish press of America and Russia “will serve to further our common understanding of the tasks that lie ahead our battles against disease and hunger.” Mr. Lehman stated:

“I am happy and proud today to extend my congratulations to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency on the occasion of the resumption of communications between the Jewish press in America and in Russia.

“It should open valuable new avenues of contact and understanding between the press and the communities of the two nations. It will doubtless provide yet another tie to our gallant Allies and after victory it will serve to further our common understanding of the tasks that lie ahead in our battles against disease and hunger that we may together establish a just and durable peace.

“I congratulate the Russian nation on today becoming a member of the Inter-governmental Committee for Refugees. Together we will do all possible to aid the tortured Jewish refugees of the world.”


Judge Joseph M. Proskauer, president of the American Jewish Committee, and Dr. Stephen S. Wise, president of the American Jewish Congress and chairman of the executive committee of the World Jewish Congress, also hailed Russia’s joining the Intergovernmental Committee for Refugees, in statements issued here.

“As president of the American Jewish Committee,” Judge Proskauer writes, “I express deep appreciation of the advance that has been made by the action of Russia in joining the Intergovernmental Committee for Refugees. There is already a fine record of achievement by Russia in offering asylum and security to the victims of Nazi tyranny, and this new action is wholly in line with that beneficent record of achievement.”

Dr. Stephen S. Wise, in his statement said. “The decision of the Soviet Union to join the Intergovernmental Committee for Refugees is an event of great importance, the news of which will be received with satisfaction by Jewish communities throughout the world.

“It is clear already that a very great responsibility will lie on the Inter-governmental Committee in the task of resettling the large numbers of people who have been displaced and uprooted by the Hitler barbarians. The first conference of UNRRA at Atlantic City was compelled to come to the conclusion that repatriation was a solution for only part of the gigantic refugee problem which has been created. It will fall to the Intergovernmental Committee to organize the resettlement of many hundreds of thousands in new lands where they will have an opportunity to rebuild their lives in peace and security. Such a task could only be undertaken by an intergovernmental agency commanding the support of the whole of the free world. The Soviet Union’s adhesion to the Committee will not only add new strength, but by completing the circle of great powers represented, provide the requisite authority.

“No great intergovernmental task can be completed, or should be attempted in the future without the full cooperation of Soviet Russia which has not only proved itself to be the heroic ally of the civilized world, but has revealed sources of constructive strength and the capacity for creative achievement which must we are all fighting.

“The Jewish people has an especial reason for welcoming this strengthening of the Intergovernmental Committee for Refugees. We are encouraged to believe that henceforth some of the hopes we have cherished will be fulfilled and that the Committee so strengthened will now be given the opportunity to rise to the full height of the challenge with which it is presented.”

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