Telegraphic Address: "LABREPCOM, SOWEST, LONDON." Telephones: VICTORIA 9434 (8 lines)
THE LABOUR PARTY
TRANSPORT HOUSE (South Block), SMITH SQUARE, LONDON, S.W.1
Secretary: J.S. MIDDLETON
Revised Nov: 3rd
We have received your letter endorsing an appeal which has been circulated by the International Brigade Association that you should send a resolution to your National Executive Committee asking that they should approach the Foreign Office to demand that the British and American Governments should jointly undertake negotiations for the release of all Brigaders, that the matter should be raised in Parliament, and that they should themselves support the efforts of the International Brigade Association for the release and relief of International Brigaders.
For your information and to explain the actual position, we would point out that the part of the problem of the refugees in which you reveal a special interest has already been raised in the House of Commons. Mr. Eden stated in the House of Commons one year ago, October 1st, 1941, that before the end of the Spanish War the Spanish Republican Government repatriated all those members of the International Brigade who were British subjects, and that, according to his information, no British members of the International Brigade were, at that date, interned in France. We may also add that no British member of the International Brigade is interned in Spain, and that no U.S.A. citizens, who were members of the International Brigade, are interned in France or Spain. The circular of the International Brigade Association contains indications that other Governments have interested themselves in the repatriation of their own countrymen.
Mr. Eden stated further that he had no confidence that representations to the Vichy Government, on the lines recommended in your letter, would be likely to produce good results. That is even more true now. The British Government has no diplomatic or consular relations with the Vichy Government. The U.S.A. Government has slender relations but very little influence.
Many of the Brigaders still belong to countries with which we and other countries are now in a state of war. It should be clear to you that the Vichy Government is not willing to facilitate their departure. If they are imprisoned the problem is insoluble. In so far as the Brigaders are nationals of other States, neutral or Allied, it is certainly their Governments and not the British or American Governments who are primarily responsible for taking the initiative for relief or release.
But as a matter of fact, adult persons resident in France, unless they are subjects of neutral states, cannot leave France except illegally. An effort is now being made to save some of the children of anti-Nazi refugees and Allied subjects in France.