Livingston Farrand to Bertalan Barna, May 6, 1920



National Headquarters
Washington, D.C.

May 6, 1920.

Mr. Bertalan Barna,
Chairman, American Relief Committee for Hungarian Sufferers,
Hotel McAlpin,
New York City.

My dear Sir:

In reply to your letter of May 5th, brought to me by Mrs. Miller, in which you request the assistance of the Red Cross in providing for the living expenses of two representatives to represent your Committee in the proposed repatriation of Hungarian prisoners now in Siberia, I beg to say that on account of the uncertainty of the situation in Vladivostok and the consequent impossibility of our knowing what the position of the American Red Cross in that City may be at any time in the future, it is impossible for us to guarantee any form of service under the circumstances.

We recognize that it would probably be highly desirable to have two men such as those you describe to assist in the detailed arrangements to be carried on in Vladivostok and vicinity in this connection. While I am unable to speak positively, I would suggest that an estimate be made by your Committee of the amount of money required to cover the living expenses of these gentlemen for a period of, say, three months, and that it be suggested to the Siberian War Prisoners Repatriation Fund that it would be a legitimate charge against that Fund to cover the expenses of these two men.

In case the Siberian War Prisoners Repatriation Fund takes the position that it cannot finance the matter, it would be entirely proper to raise the question with the American Red Cross for a direct appropriation to your Committee to cover these expenses, although I cannot say that such an appropriation would be made by the Red Cross until further consideration has been given to the subject. You will readily understand that there are many complicating circumstances involved even though the amount of money in question may not be large.

Naturally, should these gentlemen proceed to Vladivostok we shall be glad to inform our Commission, if it is still there when they arrive, of the circumstances and bespeak all courtesy and aid in making their mission a success.

In order that there may be no misunderstanding of the position of the American Red Cross in this connection, I wish to make it clear that the Red Cross is not in a position to assume direct responsibility or jurisdiction over this entire matter. We regard ourselves as one of a group of organizations brought together to do what may be possible in the premises. We are at the moment uncertain as to how long we shall be able to hold a representative American Red Cross Commission in Vladivostok although we hope that conditions will permit us to retain at least a small personnel to assist in performing our share of this important project. [page 2]

Recent cables from Vladivostok indicate increasing [uncertainty] of the situation and the probable necessity of the evacuation of the greater part of our personnel in the near future. We are, of course, keeping our representatives informed of the progress of the movement for the repatriation of Austro-Hungarian prisoners, and can count upon our representatives in Vladivostok doing everything which they find possible under the circumstances to bring the matter to a successful conclusion.

Sincerely yours,

(Signed) Livingston Farrand.
Chairman, Central Committee.

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