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The War Refugee Board: Memorandum Asking Commanders To Cooperate with WRB Rescue Operations

(January 28, 1944)


January 28, 1944

TO: Assistant Secretary McCloy

FROM: Secretary Morgenthau

In accordance with your timely suggestion it would be very helpful if instructions along the following lines were sent to the appropriate Theater Commanders:

“The President has instructed the Secretaries of State, Treasury and War to take action for the immediate rescue and relief of the Jews of Europe and other victims of enemy persecution. In an Executive Order issued January 22, 1944, the President declared ‘it is the policy of this Government to take all measures within its power to rescue the victims of enemy oppression who are in imminent danger of death and otherwise to afford such victims all possible relief and assistance consistent with the successful prosecution of the war.’ The order establishes special governmental machinery for executing this policy. It creates a War Refugee Board consisting of the Secretaries of State, Treasury and War. The Board is charged with direct responsibility to the President in seeing that the announced policy is carried out. The President indicated that while he would look directly to the Board for the execution of this policy, the Board would cooperate with the Intergovernmental Committee, UNRRA, and other interested international organizations. The President stated that he expected the cooperation of all members of the United Nations and other governments in carrying out this difficult but important task. He stated that the existing facilities of the State, Treasury and War Departments would be employed to furnish aid to Axis victims to the fullest extent possible. He stressed that it was urgent that action be taken to forestall the plot of the Nazis to exterminate the Jews and other persecuted minorities in Europe.

You should do everything possible, consistent with the successful prosecution of the war in your theater, to effectuate this policy of this Government. You should cooperate as closely as possible with all public and established private agencies who are active in your theater in this field in this matter. Consistent with your needs and military security considerations, you should make communications facilities available to these private agencies for appropriate messages for carrying out the policy of this Government herein stated, keeping the War Refugee Board advised through the Department. You should report to the Department any recommendations which you may have as to what you feel this Department can do to effectuate with all possible speed the rescue and relief of the victims of enemy oppression.

Foreign representatives of the Department of State and of other Government Departments are being similarly instructed and you should give them any possible assistance.”

I would appreciate your bringing this to the attention of Secretary Stimson.

Henry Morgenthau, Jr.
Jan. 28 1944

Sources: PBS