Jane Addams to Anna Ruth Fry, August 20, 1921



August 20th, 1921.

Miss Ruth Fry,
27, Chancery Lane,
London, W.C. 2.

My dear Miss Fry,

Miss Marshall has just told me that you received, when you were in Geneva, a telegram from Miss Pye sent to you from Vienna. As the telegram was founded upon a total and absolute misunderstanding on the part of a young man who is working for the American Friends' Service Committee, perhaps you will permit me to explain.

When we were in Salzburg and the first news of the Russian famine came, we heard in connection with it a [rumor] that an effort would be made to put Kerensky in charge of all European relief work, and that the whole situation would be exploited for political ends. As Miss Marshall probably told you, it was because we wished to be quite clear on this point that she left Salzburg on Saturday evening in order to be in Geneva in plenty of time to understand the spirit of the meeting called for the 15th. She did this upon the recommendation of such members of our International Board as were still in Salzburg.

Three or four days after she left, Wednesday I think, Brent [Allinson] arrived from a vacation in Switzerland on his way to Vienna. He had heard the same disturbing [rumors] in Berlin and elsewhere, and was most anxious that a special appeal should be issued by the pacifists for funds to be administered through the Friends, who, of course, were quite free from any suspicions of political motives. He urged this very strongly upon the group of people still at the Summer School. Fraülein Hertzka, head of our Austrian Branch, Madeleine Doty from the United States, as well as Mlle. Rolland from France and some others, were quite eager about it. The rest of us, however, felt that nothing could possibly be done until we heard from Miss Marshall, and we were, moreover, confident that the International Red Cross and other bodies meeting in Geneva would not countenance any such use of the disaster in Russia. In the meantime, of course, the Manchester Guardian [page 2] and other papers reported the formation of the Conference at Riga and the proposed plans of Mr Hoover. This position was made quite clear to Brent [Allinson] at a luncheon at which a number of people were present who clearly understood the position we were taking. It is difficult for me to understand Brent [Allinson's] misapprehension of the situation, unless it arose from the fact that we agreed that, if the Geneva Conference was all wrong in the matter, we would later issue such an appeal and Mlle. Rolland drew up an outline. The whole plan, however, was absolutely dependent upon what we heard from Miss Marshall. As an old friend of Brent [Allinson], I advised him, however, to do nothing even until he had cabled for instructions to America. He did cable from Salzburg, as he told me afterwards, but he did not show me the cable, and I had no idea of course that he was using my name in connection with it. What he seems to have done, however, both to the Philadelphia office and to Miss Pye, whom he saw the next day in Vienna, was to put out the scheme as more or less belonging to me, and to have made out a list of people purporting to be those with whom I would communicate. Before I knew anything of this, however, I received a telegram from Miss Marshall saying that we had both been made delegates. Owing to uncountable delays to which Austrian telegrams seem subject I did not receive this one from Miss Marshall until Saturday afternoon about four, too late for me to reach Geneva till Tuesday [at?] noon. I assumed by that time the Conference would be finished, and as there were other things to be done at Salzburg I carried out my original plan of leaving Salzburg on Tuesday. You know, of course what happened here, and that we were very happy to be identified with the situation, and I am sure Miss Marshall's suggestions were useful.

I am, as you may well realize, much mortified at the misunderstanding which these telegrams have caused. As I review the matter, however, I cannot see that we failed to be quite clear. Certainly there was no confusion in our own minds in regard to our line of action, and Brent [Allinson] himself, in a later interview with Miss Pye, seems to have admitted that he may have overstated our position in his first talk with her.

May I send my apologies for any blame I may have in the matter, and express the hope that I may see you in England, where I hope ↑[illegible]↓ to be between the 14th and 21st September? At any rate I will call at the office, which I remember with so much pleasure from my experiences there in 1919.

Faithfully yours,

Jane Addams [signed]