392 War Cabinet Submission by Senator H. S. Foll, Minister for the Interior

Agendum 130/1941 8 April 1941


The Australian Minister at Tokyo [1] states that the Polish Ambassador in Japan [2] has made strong representations to him in regard to the Commonwealth agreeing to allow a certain number of Polish refugees, at present in Japan, to enter Australia.

2. The matter was discussed at meetings attended by the Polish Ambassador, the British Ambassador [3], the Canadian Charge d'Affaires [4], and the Australian Minister.

3. It appears that there are about 468 souls to be provided for, of whom it was proposed that 66 should be sent to Australia. The Ambassador explained that- (a) probably 90% would be Jews;

(b) about 50% would have ample means and that the remainder would be provided with means;

(c) no fit men of military age would be included;

(d) Poland would undertake to receive everyone back on the conclusion of peace;

(e) the Ambassador would guarantee the integrity, from a political point of view, of everyone.

4. The Australian Minister, in a despatch, suggested that favourable consideration might, upon grounds of general policy and as a practical demonstration of both appreciation and sympathy, be given to the admission of a limited number of Polish citizens.

5. In a subsequent cablegram [5] the Australian Minister stated that the Polish Ambassador had informed him of discussions in London with the Prime Minister [6] and he expressed the hope that a favourable decision would be conveyed to the Prime Minister before he left England. The Ambassador stated that he is arranging for 'Goint', New York, a wealthy and responsible organization, to give a guarantee of maintenance of the Jews during their stay in Australia.

6. The Australian Minister adds that the safeguards appear to him to be such that the granting of power to authorise visas to about 60 Polish Jews in Japan would be safe and only a reasonable gesture to unfortunate Poland. He also said that the matter was very urgent.

7. If it be decided to comply with Sir John Latham's recommendation, it is suggested that Australia agree to receive up to 66 of the Polish refugees in Japan subject to the following conditions- (a) that they be admitted for the duration of the war;

(b) that each person admitted is of good character and personality and is in sound health;

(c) that preference be given to those who can speak English and to those who have relatives or friends in Australia; and (d) that each is possessed of or will be supplied with adequate means. [7]


1 Sir John Latham. See his dispatch S-11 of 6 February on file AA:

A2937, Poland. Jewish Refugees in Japan.

2 Tadeusz Romer.

3 Sir Robert Craigie 4 E. d'A. McGreer.

5 No. 151 of 27 March. See file cited in note 1.

6 R. G. Menzies.

7 On 9 April War Cabinet accepted Latham's recommendation subject to the conditions set out in paragraph 7. On 11 April Latham was informed that the Commonwealth Govt was 'reluctantly prepared and only if unavoidable to receive up to 66 Polish refugees in Japan'.

See War Cabinet Minute 943 of 9 April on file AA: A2671, 130/41 and unnumbered cablegram to Latham (1656 to London) on file cited in note 1.

[AA: A2671, 130/1941]