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Voices of Europe Milton Mayer American author and lecturer broadcaster and professor of social research from the University of Frankfurt has been traveling throughout many of the countries of Europe recording the voices of ordinary people on a great variety of subjects. These are Europeans who are alive and sensitive to the tragedy and dilemma of the conditions that surround them. These are ordinary people who can speak directly and candidly of their own feelings and their own aspirations to help us to understand the basic conditions of life in Europe and to help us understand the views these people have of their own problems. Today's programme recorded in Geneva Switzerland deals with the problem of the left over people that stark term which defines Europe's refugees. To learn about the refugee problem what it is how it came about and what can be done about it. Milton Mayer interviewed Dr. G J event who haven't go dark. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. Doctor go dark formally a newspaper editor by profession gave up his position when the Nazis took
over his paper during the invasion of Holland in hiding he took up the editorship of an underground newspaper which today is one of the largest newspapers in the Netherlands. Doctor good heart by escaping to England by way of Belgium France Spain and Gibraltar in 1944 became minister of justice of the Netherlands government in exile. Then after the war a member of the Netherlands Senate and vice chairman of its delegation to the United Nations and finally High Commissioner for Refugees. Here is Milton mair. Doctor good heart. We in America. Well we are a people stablished by refugees in the 17th century and the later are not too well acquainted with the refugee problem as it exists in the world today. I'd like to ask you I know that
I'm asking you to talk for three hours instead of for 30 minutes. I would like to ask you to tell our listeners what the refugee problem is in the world today and how it came about. I think that it is fair to say that we could really talk at great length about definitions of refugees and who want to go forth but debt I'm afraid would not interest the many people who are listening to this broadcast every roarer and every TENS unit in the world produces refugees that is people who feel that they cannot bear any longer the regime in a certain country and who therefore leave behind everything which they love and beauty is dear to them crossed the borders and walked into a completely unknown future. That has happened after the First World War has happened after the Second World War and it happens
still every day and it will happen as long as the world is divided as it is in the present Hering is the refugee problem. Growing. No I wouldn't think it grew but it's certainly good. There's a good many people living under the impression that the refugee problem is a problem which can be don't really exist any longer did. That's not true. I think perhaps that we in America to the extent that we are well acquainted with the modern refugee problem. Think of it in terms of the German refugees from Nazi ism and since Nazi ism has been destroyed we tend to assume that the refugee problem in large measure has been solved. I wonder Dr Goodheart if you would in a quick glance of the world and especially of Europe give us a
picture of the refugee problem as it exists today. Well then I would be obliged to bore the listeners with some figures for instance. In Germany you will find today roughly 200000 Norman German refugees 25 percent of whom that's 50000 still live in camps in seven years. You know Australia would find roughly 300000 60 to 70000 still in camps. All those people are not belonging to the category would you just mention it today you would have 25 30000 refugees the same number you find in Greece you find scattered groups in the Middle East and in the Far East and all of them are I would think refugees in the proper sense of the term that is people who have left mostly to commune East countries to do the regimes of which they couldn't bear it any longer and who are now seeking asylum
in what we call the free world. DR go hard. What of the category that we know of as displaced persons. I think of persons who were shipped out or sent away from the countries of their origin or nationality. Are they included as refugees in your sense of the term or under your responsibility as they are they are. Yes there is the refugee a man by and large who is as capable of taking care of himself under normal conditions as the rest of the population among whom he finds himself or is he likely to be a person who by virtue of the terrible shock of the experience he has undergone is he likely to be a charge upon the general public.
No you certainly are not likely to be a charge of the general public I would even say that the fact that the man took step courageous step to cross the border of his own country to abandon his own land and everything which he had there distinguishes that man to a certain extent. And makes him an asset for any country where he would come to know of course there are many cases where such a cross to go to border with all its backers but psychological consequences has the effect of something of a shock to him and that he may then for a time or even for a very long time be this able to do a job then he is a man who lives under normal conditions. Moreover I would like to add these that according to my mind one of the main difficulties for refugees is that they just look what all of us consider to be quite natural that is the particular of a government refugee has no government he is a man who
looks on the United Nations for being predicted as he does not qualify where every is foreign to same amount of particulars which you national of any country that enjoys from his own government. Dr. Gold Heart What can the United States the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees do actually do for the aid. How many refugees are there in the world. Well that's the last point is very difficult to the Red Cross has made an estimate last year that there would be something like 60 million refugees in the world. There are let me in Iraq there are how many human beings in the world. Well I don't blame you I don't know two two and a half billion something like that I would think. And there are 60 million resurrection claims I don't take any responsibility for that figure however I think that we better talk about with whom I'm concerned and that's somewhat in the bracket of two million and two
minute Yes two million what are you supposed to do about them and what can you do about them that what can you not do about them. Well I think that what we try to do is mainly for different things one is to protect and that is to see to it that the events you today have some papers or soup different gateways which they can qualify for all those benefits and things which normalcy does in a country would like to qualify for let us say to get a stamp to be allowed to cross from two year old to a country where you live and come back to the country again that often. Now let me interrupt. Are you legally. Is the United Nations legally in a position to provide refugees with such papers which are valid across borders national borders. No not directly but the United Nations have organized last year a conference which has brought about to go to invention on the status of
refugees. Do dick still which is attached as an Enix travel document for Refugees which will replace the travel document which is a couple of you know is already in existence the so-called Devil document. And what we do is to try to get governments to sign that convention that by undertaking the obligation to provide refugees because with such a dreadful document when a government signs this obligation doctor god heart is it then bound. To provide these persons with travel documents of the sort you mention are let us say to recognize the validity of such documents. Yes I omit for the moment the difference between the signature I dreaded and ratification of a convention of course only after rectification of the convention. The obligations exist but then real obligations of government having already fried to go invention is obligated to provide refugees in its territory as far as they are within my mandate was a travel document as I referred to just a few moments ago.
Dr Gone heart of the governments which are members of the United Nations. How many are there altogether. 56. No 60 60. How many governments have ratified this convention for refugees. It has not been ready for it yet by any government but 19 countries have signed it already and many countries are or have presented it already do that parliaments for red for red if you have good hopes that within a couple of months to convention will come into force that will happen after six states have ready fight it. Last news about this is that the Holy See which takes a very keen interest in the problem of refugees has decided to sign that convention. Being the 19th state to do so the Vatican than it is the 19th St. it's right to sign the convention. That's right. And ratification However by the parliaments of those states must follow for this convention to be
binding. That's is the United States one of these governments which has signed the United States has not signed to go invention because the United States I think with regard to merely conventions have a different go there that according to the view of the federal government a convention which is the country to state to do various things cannot be ratified or signed under the states themselves would have accepted the obligations of the federal government takes the view that it cannot impose the obligation to go inventions to various states and that is why even although the convention contains a so-called federal clause the federal government of the United States so far have not seen that way to say it. Let me bring you closer home. That is to my home Doctor good heart. The United States is a relatively
rich nation and not very heavily populated. It is of course in some areas in still other areas I believe for instance in the state of Montana which is one of our fairly large states. There are only half a million persons. There is space in the United States. There is wealth in the United States. Do you feel that the United States has a particularly heavy obligation to face the refugee problem let me interrupt you before you answer and I ask you where the obligation to solve or tackle the refugee problem or originates where does it come from. Why am I as an American you as a Hollander Why are we obligated let us say to pay higher taxes in order to help take care of a man whose
difficulties are no fault of ours. Well if you put it that way you make it pretty difficult for me to own so because if it is a foregone conclusion that the three year are not guilty of any of the aspects of the situation under which people become refugees I really would have some difficulty in giving you the adequate answer my answer is that you and I myself and everyone is correct sponsible for defects that the world is divided as it is and therefore co responsible for the fact that some people and many people even cannot bear any longer the regime in a certain part of the world and become refugees. Apart from my very personal view. That no Christian at least no one who claims to be a Christian can possibly deny that he would have no responsibility for his
fellow man. I feel that even if you want to argue only along political lines you cannot possibly deny that every word is go responsible for the extremely distressing fate of refugees. So I've never had any difficulty to urge upon everyone be an American or a Canadian or a hole in the. That he should accept he's part of that responsibility and try to do the job for refugees. Let me put the question this way Doctor got hurt. Let's say that I accept a both a politico and a Christian responsibility to try to help those who are less fortunate than I am. I then put to you the question is it within the means of people like you and me to take care of somewhere between 2 million and
60 million refugees. Your taxes and mine and people's taxes in most countries are extremely heavy. Are we able is the world able actually in your view to carry the load which you are asking it to carry. Oh yes I have no doubt in my mind that the world can do that. Of course you and I as do individuals couldn't possibly solved or refute your refugee problem to two of us we would be unable to do that. I think however that being the both of us are part of some national community we could certainly do a job in bringing our little influence to bear on our own governments who would take the most favorable attitude towards refugees. And when you talk about things like taxes and heavy burdens on people I'm perfectly ready to see all that. But still I'm deeply convinced
that the problem of refugees with my mandated wanted to half to two million refugees is by no means too heavy a burden for the world and that the world could easily even solve it if it just wished to do so. Is it your suspicion that the world does not wish to do so or that the peoples of the world wish to do so but they cannot move their governments or that the governments simply reflect the indifference of the peoples. Well that's a difficult point of course I think that on the whole it's just one of the of the weaknesses of the human character to shift attention from one problem to the all to once in a while between 45 and say forty nine people who are really extremely interested in refugees then they got interested in that it's a year integration of Europe. I got interested in the West on defense and so on and so forth.
But you should never lower yourself in my view to forget about a problem and get it are not a problem as long as your previous problem hasn't been solved. Dr. Goodheart how much money do you have. I don't mean in your pocket I mean in your budget and how much money do you need. I have in my office roughly seven hundred and twenty thousand dollars which are only for administrative expenses that is not one dollar of those seven to 25000 go to assistance to refugees. That's 50 percent of the yard so you have a 50 percent is that I need. If you would really solve the whole problem perhaps something like say three hundred four hundred million dollar. Which in my view from which the 16 nations of the world which are responsible for the solution of the problem shrink
back saying oh well we can't produce that much Doctor god heart lest I confuse millions and billions and thousands here. Let me ask you if I heard if I have heard you correctly the budget of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees the annual budget is now seven hundred twenty five thousand dollars. That's correct. This amount of money is provided voluntarily by the various member nations. It's on the budget of the United Nations and given to me by majority decision of General Assembly. And none of this seven hundred twenty five thousand dollars reach is refugees themselves. And in order to reach the refugees merely the one and a half to two million whom you have to account for. You feel that. The United Nations high commissioner
would require a budget of 300 million to 400 million dollars a year. Yes I would like to expand a little bit further. That would then really cover the whole problem that is it would cover the immediate aid to those refugees who cannot help themselves who are too old too sick to invalid to do the job. It would cover simulation programs for Refugees who could not be resettled in all the countries but who want to have some help in order to get themselves established in the countries where they are. It would cover also the resettlement of those refugees for whom still resettlement is a possibility. And if I look at my one and a half to two million refugees then I can easily divide them into two groups who would have to qualify for point one point two point three and very roughly I would think that ought to get us 300 to 400 million dollars would do drop.
Apart from the seven hundred twenty five thousand dollars which you have only for administrative purposes. None of which is able to reach the refugees themselves. What agencies public or private are engaged in helping refugees in the world. Oh great great many voluntary agencies of every description do a magnificent job to help refugees and I must say that many governments rarely do whatever is in that capacity to help them. But the governments cannot take the burden of debt problem for 100 percent all by themselves they have to rely to a certain extent on foreign help for instance. Your student government with 300000 refugees cannot possibly do the whole job alone and need some help from outside to make an integration program effective you know Austria. The same goes what do you tell your government the same goes for the Greek government. And for many more governments
may I ask you doctor go to heart. What the Dutch government your government and the American government my government are carrying in the way of this load. Well the Netherlands government rules all the years a member government of the yarrow International Refugee Organization and you will remember that only governments who supported international refugee organization the Netherlands are very small country was one of them. The Netherlands have still at the present time 10000 refugees in the country. The United States not only were a member of the International Refugee organisation but I think more even than 50 percent of the very heavy budgets of the International Refugee organisation and having of course of the years of the existence of the yarrow accepted I think roughly two hundred eighty thousand refugees. Two hundred eighty thousand refugees during the years of the internationals. So
naturally since organization since the end of the war. Let me ask you how many refugees are there who were processed for visas to one country or another and accepted and in that sense who are waiting until 10 so under 10 and are these 10000 visa only for the United States or to all countries. I think mostly due to United States but perhaps to Australia and Canada but I'm not quite sure about the doctor going hard. There were only 18 nations that were members of the International Refugee organisation. May I say that it seems to me that you present a far more discouraging picture than your mere words indicate if there are 60 nations in the United Nations and there were only 18 who were members of the I are all and there are I think 19 who have signed the new refugee convention
but none has so far ratified it. In how long a time. When was this convention drawn up last summer a year ago. Do I have reason to believe that. The situation is a little discouraging. I don't think so. Of course I'm a professional optimist but I think that the defacto du convention hasn't been ready for it yet doesn't mean very much. As we all noted parliaments work sometimes very slowly. On the other hand although you are quite right in saying that only 18 governments supported the IRA when only 19 governments signed a convention that is the decision of the United Nations as such to support the office which I'm heading now and also also to enable me to raise a fund for immediate aid to refugees which means I think that United Nations are aware of at least part of the responsibility which they have to accept for De Sole
solution of the refugee problem. Now the fund which you are. And able to raise comes from the nations themselves or from private agencies both. We are appealing to the governments and sometimes we succeed you know. Training is a governmental contribution. In other countries we are making a public appeal for instance in United States United States do not feel that as such we can make a contribution to this fund especially you know because they have a base in time. I don't I don't program under way you know the mutual Security Act for four million three hundred thousand dollars for new refugees. But we are certainly trying to get some money in the United States from private sources. Doctor go and heart. What are the two or three things that the American who is listening to this interview can do about the refugee problem.
I'm afraid that the individual American cannot do much more than urge all the responsible authorities in this country with whom he is in any contact to be favorable to programs of admission of refugees in the United States to be favorable to better budget for the office which I am heading to be favorable to governmental contributions to want to see snus fund for refugees and to make known all over the United States how tremendously much suffering there still is among refugees. I could only point to for instance to yes this is an example where you would find one in five refugees suffering from either active or inactive low she's to make it I think perfectly clear that here still is the general counsel Yarrow who did last year a problem so grave in
terms of human suffering that really every human being ought to concern himself with it and the American who is listening to this interview has in your view. A Christian responsibility and a political responsibility to do something about the worst of these refugee spots. So we should stress no doubt in my mind that that is really the situation for every citizen of the world. Therefore also for every citizen of United States. Thank you very much Dr. Gott art. You have just heard the fourth program in the series voices of Europe. Milton Maier American author and broadcaster lecturer and professor of social research from the University of Frankfurt has been interviewing Dr. G J van Hooven gold heart of the Netherlands United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Geneva Switzerland. This has been just one of the voices of Europe you will hear unimpeded by the artificial screen of high
cable costs or scarce newsprint. A representative sample of the millions of voices of Europe some of which are being heard now for the first time in this program you heard about the problem of the left over people. Europe's refugees and the work the United Nations is doing for them in the next programme of the series Milton Mayer interviews Germany's most famous clergyman Pastor Martin e-mailer in Dr. Neil Miller's home in VSE But in Germany and what he has learned in his life and how he has changed his views. The program you have just heard is made possible under a grant from the fund for adult education an independent organization established by the Ford Foundation. These programs are prepared and distributed by the National Association of educational broadcasters in the interests of better international understanding. This program was introduced by Norman McKee and this is the end E.B. tape network.
Voices of Europe
Dr. Gerrit Jan van Heuven Goedhart
Producing Organization
National Association of Educational Broadcasters
Contributing Organization
University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Episode Description
An interview Dr. Gerrit Jan van Heuven Goedhart, a Dutch politician and diplomat.
Series Description
Interviews with noted Europeans on a variety of subjects, conducted by Milton Mayer, American author and broadcaster, lecturer and professor in the Institute of Social Research at Frankfurt University.
Broadcast Date
Global Affairs
United Nations--Officials and employees.
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Interviewee: Heuven Goedhart, Gerrit Jan van, 1901-1956
Interviewer: Mayer, Milton, 1908-1986
Producing Organization: National Association of Educational Broadcasters
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 52-37-4 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:29:09
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Chicago: “Voices of Europe; Dr. Gerrit Jan van Heuven Goedhart,” 1953-03-25, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed June 23, 2024,
MLA: “Voices of Europe; Dr. Gerrit Jan van Heuven Goedhart.” 1953-03-25. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. June 23, 2024. <>.
APA: Voices of Europe; Dr. Gerrit Jan van Heuven Goedhart. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from