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File No. 872.51/53
The Secretary of State to the Ambassador in France (Sharp)

[Telegram]

WASHINGTON, November 30, 1917. 2880. For Crosby1 (from Leffingwell ?] :

Treasury No. 13. The British Ambassador at Washington has made the following communication to the State Department:

The British Government is informed that the United States authorities have supplied to the Serbian Government the sum of $1,000,000 to be specially employed for the relief of the following categories of Serbians in Serbia and enemy countries : (a) War invalids—i. e., incapacitated by wounds or illness

and their families;
(6) Indigent families of mobilized men;

Members of liberal professions, commercial men, artisans,

etc., who are without any means of sustenance; (d) Persons interned. It is understood that the American authorities are also considering the allocation of a further $1,000,000 to be employed by the American Red Cross for the assistance of the Serbian prisoners of war and purchases of sanitary material.

The question of supplying relief on the above lines has been under consideration by the British authorities on various occasions during the past two years and the following information on the subject may be of interest to the United States Government at the present moment:

Payments to war invalids are, it is presumed, already included in the payments made by the Serbian Government to Serbian officers and men.

The funds out of which these payments are made are supplied by the French and British Governments jointly. The payments (items b, c, and d) being made to persons in territory occupied by the enemy have not been agreed to hitherto by the British Government in spite of repeated applications by the Serbian Government, as there was no guarantee that the benefits of these payments would not accrue almost entirely to the enemy. It is possible, however, that certain payments for persons interned and for various indigent families and persons in occupied territory may have been made by the Serbian Relief Fund under guarantees as to the proper distribution of the supplies.

With regard to assistance to Serbian prisoners of war, arrangements are at present under discussion between the French and British Governments in which it has been contemplated that practically the whole cost for the relief to Serbian prisoners of war should be undertaken by those two Governments. These arrangements provide for

Oscar T. Crosby; in Europe from November, 1917, as American delegate to the Inter-Allied Council on War Purchases and Finance.

‘R. Ç. Leffingwell, Assistant Secretary of the Treasury.

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the centralization of the whole work of relief under the auspices of the Serbian Relief Fund, and the estimates of the cost are being prepared on the basis of information supplied by that body and from other sources.

With regard to purchases of sanitary material it may be observed that as the whole of the requirements of the Serbian Government for all purposes are at present provided by the French and British Governments jointly, it is not clear to what this can refer unless it should be to purchases of material for use after the war. The British Treasury have been approached repeatedly by the Serbian Government with a view to purchases of sanitary and other material for after-the-war purposes, but they have always maintained that they are unable at the present time to provide funds for any other purpose than the prosecution of the war. They have, however, consented to the appointment of an interdepartmental committee to consider the conditions on which it might eventually be possible to agree to certain purchases for reconstruction purposes, but it had been intended to obtain the consent of the French and Russian Governments before any definite steps were taken.

În communicating the above facts the British Ambassador is instructed to state that the British Government will be glad to supply more detailed information in regard to the assistance given to the Serbian Government, should the Government of the United States so desire. At the same time it would be convenient if the British authorities could be furnished with further details of the policy of the United States Government in these matters in order that any necessary modifications may be made in the arrangements heretofore adopted. In particular the British Treasury would be grateful for information as to the financial aid which the United States Government may contemplate rendering (a) to Serbian subjects in occupied territory and (6) to the Serbian Government, during the war, for the purposes of reconstruction of Serbian territory after the war or when it may be liberated.

Please consult with representatives of French and British Governments and advise further as to loan of $5,000,000 now asked by Serbia to be expended partly through American Red Cross. Leffingwell.

LANSING

File No. 763.72114/3086

The Serbian Minister (Michaïlovitch) to the Secretary of State

No. 1064

WASHINGTON, December 7, 1917.

[Received December 10.] EXCELLENCY: I had the honor of receiving your note of November 30 last concerning the amelioration of the condition of Serbian prisoners in Germany, Austria and Bulgaria. The situation of the Serbian prisoners of war is desperate and is worse in all respects than that of the prisoners of our allies. This fact has been noticed and has created discontent in the Serbian Army and among the Serbian free civilian citizens. The Serbian Government responsible to the Parliament is bound to find means to relieve that deplorable condition of the Serbian prisoners and interned ones, and having been unable to obtain that a similar treatment to the one extended to the Allied prisoners be meted out to the Serbian prisoners, it informed the Allied Governments that it would try to obtain the exchange of sound prisoners with the enemy on the condition that both prisoners be interned in a neutral state. Such an exchange of prisoners would not augment the enemy forces, a fact which had been taken into consideration before the Serbian Government made the above proposal to the Allied Governments. The intention of the Serbian Government was to do everything possible to save the Serbian prisoners of war from the unavoidable annihilation which threatened them if they were to remain under the actual conditionsbut would never have done anything which would, in that respect, benefit the enemy.

In this endeavor and with the view of responsibility of the Serbian Government, it requested the United States Government, six months ago, to grant it a small loan which has been kindly done. According to the arrangement with the Treasury Department, part of this loan was to be expended through the American Red Cross for the supplying of the Serbian prisoners of war and interned ones; and another part of same through the Serbian Government with the collaboration of the Special Agent of the United States at Corfu for the betterment of conditions of Serbian soldiers, invalids and their families. The Serbian Government was very appreciative for the great help extended it, and believed that this question of the prisoners was definitely settled. But in spite of the best good will and readiness of the American Red Cross, during the first six months it succeeded in sending only one ship of less than 2,000 tons of food and clothing for them, and which to date has not reached Marseilles, and the commodities of which cannot be distributed to the prisoners before two or three months. Owing to winter and starvation there will again be many hundred victims among them.

In the meantime, the loan of $3,000,000 has been exhausted, therefore I applied to the Treasury Department and requested a further small advance, lest the work of the American Red Cross and the Serbian Government be interrupted. Although our request was favourably received, a solution of this question could not be arrived at because of misunderstandings between the Allied chanceries which interfered. The American Red Cross has therefore been obliged to stop all supplies, and even those which had already been purchased had to be stored in the magazines of the American Red Cross. I have the honor to enclose, herewith, copy of the American Red Cross's last letter by which you may see what difficulties were in the way of this relatively easy affair being favourably solved in the interest of our prisoners.

This is the reason for which the Serbian Government had to take the initiative of proposing an exchange of the valid prisoners, but this had been given up as soon as it was proposed that the American Red Cross should take up the upkeep of the Serbian prisoners in enemy countries. I am happy that this proposal has been favourably considered by the United States Government, and that it will have your kind support.

I know of all the practical difficulties to be encountered to settle all the details of this affair, but I beg your leave to express my hope that these difficulties are not of such a nature that they may not be overcome. If the United States Government would decide to put at the disposal of the Serbian Government a monthly loan of $1,000,000, and if a ship of about 5,000 tons be secured every month through the American Red Cross for the transport to Marseilles of the supplies purchased with this loan, the question of the relief of the Serbian prisoners of war and interned ones could be satisfactorily settled. I therefore beg to request that you would kindly use your influence towards this end. I beg [etc.]

L. MICHAÏLOVITCH

File No. 872.51/55

The Delegate to the Inter-Allied Council (Crosby) to the Secretary

of State

[Telegram]

Paris, December 6, 1917.

[Received December 12, 1.25 p. m.] No. 15. For Secretary of the Treasury:

Have seen Pashitch, Serbian Prime Minister. He tells me loans now being made by Great Britain and France cover in general same objects as those made by us but wholly insufficient. He alleges there has never been any difficulty in having material taken into occupied territory through Swiss Red Cross just as similar material taken into Belgium. However, recommend that action on loan be suspended until further discussion with British Government in London next week and presentation of matter to Inter-Allied Council which will then be organized.

CROSBY

'Not printed.

File No. 102.1/454b
The Secretary of State to the Ambassador in Great Britain (Page)

[Telegram)

WASHINGTON, December 14, 1917. 6039. For Crosby from Leffingwell:

Treasury No. 26. So far as Serbian prisoners' relief is concerned, messages seemed to have crossed each other and confusion resulted from fact that impression existed that American Red Cross proposed to assume entire charge and entire expense for Serbian prisoners of war.

In fact American Red Cross is merely ready to assume charge provided funds are supplied by Serbian Government. British and French seem to have been ready to provide funds alone in accordance with memorandum cabled you, Treasury No. 13, but apparently are now prepared to turn over whole matter to American Red Cross, and in that case will regard themselves as relieved of all financial responsibility. Do not see why they should not participate with United States Government in financial support necessary to maintain Serbian prisoners' relief, whatever may be instrument of extending that relief. Cooperation of British and French Governments is necessary to assure supplies getting forward to their destination, and it is believed that best interests of Serbia as well as reasons of general policy require that this, like other similar matters, should be handled by the three together. Much impressed by distressing reports as to condition of Serbian prisoners and by fact that none of supplies forwarded by American Red Cross appear yet to have reached them. Hope you can agree with British and French on prompt measures assuring joint support in money, ships, railroad transportation, and possibly supplies.

LANSING

File No. 102.1/459

The Ambassador in Great Britain (Page) to the Secretary of State

[Telegram-Extract]

LONDON, December 20, 1917.

[Received December 21, 4.48 a. m.] For Secretary of the Treasury from Crosby:

No. 23. Serbian situation. British, French Governments made appropriations April last 800,000 francs for aid to Serbian prisoners in occupied territory but never agreed upon details, hence no expenditures whatever have been made on that account. Lord Robert Cecil 1 admits propriety of sending in supplies for prisoners but opposes any help to civil population in spite of accredited reports of great distress, this based on fact that no engagement obtained from Austrian Government not to requisition foodstuffs from Serbian

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