No. 55 NAI DFA Secretary's Files A2

Memorandum from Joseph P. Walshe to Éamon de Valera (Dublin)
'Admission of refugees'

Dublin, 13 December 1945

Before establishing general principles as to the conditions of entry of refugees in general, it might be well to consider the particular case of the Poles.

The Poles have made four requests:-

  1. that we should receive and care for a number of Polish children;
  2. that we allow a small number of University students to follow courses here; the Irish Government to pay for their maintenance;
  3. that we should allow to reside here a very small number of Poles able to support themselves;
  4. and

  5. that we should facilitate (financially and otherwise) the establishment here of a small Polish research institute the purpose of which would be to preserve a nucleus of Polish learning and Catholic culture until the liberation of Poland.
  1. The Red Cross have completed arrangements with the Polish Red Cross for the reception of 200 Polish children. They are to be housed in Glencree for the present, and it is suggested that, after six or twelve months, a large number of them would be adopted into Irish families. There are 250,000 Polish children in camps in Germany, a high percentage of which have lost their parents. The children are to be in the charge of six Polish women and three or four Irish nuns (St. Vincent de Paul).
  2. Though the question of bringing Polish students to Irish Universities has been talked about for over a year by different groups here, no effective step has yet been taken. Each student would cost about £250 a year. A guarantee would be required that the student would leave Ireland when his course is completed. Since the first term is already over, it would seem to be better to postpone consideration of affording facilities to Polish students until next summer.
  3. We have been asked to receive here about ten Poles and one Hungarian, all of whom would be able to support themselves or would have a guarantee of support from certain people living in England. There is no reason why we should not allow them to live here provided we are satisfied with the guarantee.
  4. The Polish Government attach the greatest importance to this proposal. They feel it absolutely essential, in order to preserve their national culture, to establish some such institute. It would not consist of more than twelve or fifteen persons and the total cost would be about £12,000 a year. It is suggested that the Dáil might be asked to allow thirty or forty thousand pounds of the still unexpended half of the £3,000,000 voted for Continental relief to be spent for the purpose of setting up and maintaining this institute for a period of, say, five years. The Poles have informed us that they would be able in time to get considerable funds for this purpose from their compatriots in America.

    It seems clear that our charity obligations to Poland would be adequately liquidated in the eyes of the world if we provided shelter for the children mentioned and set up the institute. It is felt that the setting-up of the institute especially would receive very wide and favourable publicity in the United States. Having carried out these projects, we would not be expected to allow any other Poles into the country who were not capable of supporting themselves, not even University students.

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