Coast Guard History

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Transcript of telephone conversation between Henry Morgenthau, Jr., Secretary of the Treasury, and Cordell Hull, Secretary of State, on June 5, 1939.3:17 PM

HMJr: Hello.

Operator: Secretary Hull is coming.

HMJr: Thank you. Hello.

O: He'll Be right on.

HMJr: All right. (Brief pause) Hello.

Cordell Hull: Hello, Henry.

HMJr: Hello, Cordell.

H: Yes, sir.

HMJr: How are you?

H: Fine!

HMJr: Cordell, some of my good friends in New York have called me about this terrible tragedy on this boat the St. Louis with those 900 refugees on it.

H: Yes.

HMJr: And there have been so many things back and forth as to what could or couldn't be done—I mean, as to…

H: Yeah.

HMJr: …guarantee money for them and so forth and so on. And they wondered if there is—if it's reached a stage where a Jewish organization could guarantee bonds or expenses or anything else.?

H: Yeah.

HMJr: Because if they knew it was down to that point, they'd be ready to do something.

H: Yes.

HMJr: You see?

H: Yes. Well, I talked with the Cuban Ambassador about an hour ago and talked with the President about twenty minutes ago…

HMJr: Yes.

H: …on this question.

HMJr: Yes.

H: And this morning I talked to old man, James M. Carson of New York, that big utility man who is in Savannah…

HMJr: Yes.

H: …in Havana.

HMJr: Yes.

H: He brought up the question of tourists' visas…

HMJr: Yes.

H: …so they might go out to the—islands—our islands down there.  What the devil…

HMJr: Virgin Islands?

H: Yeah.

HMJr: Yeah.

H: And stay until proper arrangements could be made for them to go elsewhere.

HMJr: Yes.

H: Now, I took that up at once and found that under the law.

HMJr: Yeah.

H: …we couldn't—couldn't issue tourists' visas unless they had a definite home where they were coming from and in a situation to return to it.

HMJr: Yes.

H: So under the law we're—we're helpless in that respect.

HMJr: I see.

H: Then the Cuban Ambassador talked like the main thing was the financing. That he believed—he's telling me this not to be published now…

HMJr: Yes.

H: …that he believed it would be worked out.

HMJr: Uh-huh.

H: The problem of these people. He said they'd taken in a good many already.

HMJr: Yeah.

H: And I think that the Jewish organizations who are dealing with the money end of this have one or two representatives in Havana now keeping in touch with them on this.

HMJr: I'm not sure. There seems to be some confusion.

H: One of my men in here understood that. Now I think they—they will work it out if they can see the financial—financing will be made certain.

HMJr: Well now if it…

H: I'd say—I'd say they will. I believe they—they've got a real chance to do it, that's what I'm trying to say.

HMJr: Well now, supposing—would this be a suggestion which would be in order, that if they send somebody down from the joint committee to be here so that he'd be on "tap"?

H: Yes. Well, the main thing is we can't tell them without much trouble what is—what we know about it. The main thing is to follow up with the—with their—with a representative at Havana. They ought to have a representative there.

HMJr: It's better too do it there than here?

H: Yeah. We'll do what we can, you understand, in any event, but they need a man there who knows how to dicker with them on the financing of this.

HMJr: I see.

H: That's the main thing.

HMJr: And it's better to have somebody there than here?

H: Now, that's my impression—that's my impression. I would—I would suggest that they consider that question…

HMJr: I see.

H: …of whether, it—whether it is not better.

HMJr: Well, I was just thinking that—I mean, if there was one man here, like Mr. Paul Baerwald, or somebody.

H: Yeah.

HMJr: So that he could keep posted as to what was going on in Cuba and here also.

H: Yes. Well, this—you see, this is a matter primarily between Cuba…

HMJr: I see. 

H: The Cuban Government and these people.

HMJr: I see.

H: And not between this Government.

HMJr: I see.

H: And that's the reason that they need to be closer to the Cuban Government.

HMJr: I see, and—but the Virgin Islands thing is out?

H: I think that's—that's what my fellows tell me.

HMJr: Uh-huh. Well, would you mind if I called you up again tomorrow?

H: Yes, sir. I'm keeping up with it the best I can.

HMJr: And I can call you up again tomorrow?

H: Yes sir. Any time.

HMJr: Thank you.

H: Yeah.

HMJr: Thank you.


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Last Modified 10/10/2012