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Solution of Refugee Problem in 6 Years Seen As Evian Conference Closes

July 17, 1938
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Complete solution of the Austro-German refugee problem within five or six years was envisioned today as the 32-power conference convoked by the United States concluded a ten-day session.

This hope was considered justified by the departing delegates and experts, and is based on (1) the harmony displayed by the participating governments on the question of increased reception of refugees within existing immigration laws; (2) Germany’s indication of willingness to negotiate on the question of permitting emigrants to take with them part of their capital under certain conditions; (3) the fact that the conference’s future work will be conducted by an American director.

Chairman Myron C. Taylor’s conduct of the conference, converting it to success in the face of many obstacles, gave proof of American efficiency even in the most delicate diplomatic situation. Everyone here is confident that the work of the American director of the permanent committee will be characterized by the same efficiency.

Before leaving Evian for Paris, Mr. Taylor declaring “we mean business,” mapped for this correspondent the tentative course to be taken by the man who directs the permanent bureau. The director’s first task after completion of the scheduled August 3 London meeting, he said, will be to proceed to Germany to open negotiations covering not only the question of property but the securing of normal treatment for Jews while they are still in the Reich. Following this, Mr. Taylor declared, the director will turn his energies toward the possibilities for immigration and colonization in certain colonial territories as well as overseas lands.

All observers, including the representatives of Jewish organizations consider the outcome of the conference as most satisfactory and are especially laudatory in their comments on America’s taking the initiative.


In concluding speeches, Lord Winterton of Great Britain emphasized that Palestine could not now be taken into consideration as a center for refugees. Mr. Taylor declared that orderly emigration, including the taking out of capital, was essential to world peace, and Senator Henri Berenger of France stressed that this was the first time the United States was joining a permanent international body dealing with non-American affairs.

Dwelling on Palestine for the first time since the conference opened on July 6, Lord Winterton said that some quarters believed the Jewish problem might be solved if only Palestine were wider open to Jewish immigration. Palestine is a small country, he said, and the British Government must consider the mandate as well as the local situation.

Declaring that 300,000 Jews had been admitted to Palestine since 1920, including 40,000 German Jews, Lord Winterton said that conditions now did not permit Britain to alter her present attitude, which, he added, would be revised as soon as the situation changed. He stated that “Palestine cannot usefully be taken into consideration now.”

Lord Winterton then disclosed that the British Government had sent an expert to Kenya, in East Africa, to investigate the possibilities of Jewish immigration there. The expert has reported favorably, he said, but the process of admitting immigrants will be gradual, and there will be no mass immigration.

The British delegate concluded by saying he was most pleased with “the encouraging outcome of the conference,” which, he declared, would enlarge possibilities for German and Austrian emigrants and also open the prospect for dealing eventually with similar problems.


In a brief closing speech, Mr. Taylor said he was happy that machinery had been put into motion which “will bring a real improvement in the lives and prospects of many millions.” Declaring that the Evian meeting was only the beginning, he emphasized that confidential statements at the conference by representatives of various governments were “opening the prospect for increased admission of refugees.”

The permanent machinery, Mr. Taylor said, will take into account the plans and testimony of private organizations. He stressed that orderly emigration, plus the taking out of capital, was imperative for world peace because a disorderly exodus might result in international unrest.

“Our work will continue tirelessly and without interruption in order that the hopes of the men, women and children who have placed their faith in our efforts may not be dispelled and their sufferings embittered,” Mr. Taylor said in conclusion.

The conference was closed by Senator Berenger, who, in addition to having American participation, promised full French cooperation.


An official communique declared that the testimony and memorandums of private delegations have been incorporated in a confidential report. Another communique announced that certain countries, through their confidential statements, had expressed willingness to receive experienced agriculturists, while others had stated their willingness to accept selected workers, and still others to allow immigrants to enter without occupational restriction and permit them to choose their employment.

“Countries with an immigration system limiting admission of immigrants will permit reception of an appreciable number of refugees, while certain other countries having no restrictions have expressed a willingness to adopt a liberal immigration attitude to refugees,” the communique said.

The World Jewish Congress delegation issued a statement to the press expressing satisfaction with the results of the conference, especially the declaration in the resolution that emigration countries should permit the taking out of property. The Congress expressed the hope that the conference would deal later with refugees other than German and Austrian.

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