No. 293.

Mr. Kasson to Mr. Bayard.

No. 223.]

Sir: I have heretofore communicated to the Department several statements of military cases of German-American citizens which presented hardships of such a nature as to prove the necessity of another effort to improve the provisions of the German-American naturalization treaty of 1868.

Herewith I now inclose the complaint of Ernst F. Heitmüller, which presents an instance of such grave injustice that it became my duty to request of the German Government some action beyond its ordinary course, and in special condemnation of the local officials who committed the wrong. The case is stated in my note to the foreign office, copy of [Page 407] which is herewith inclosed, together with an acknowledgment received from that office, and translation of the same.

The response of the foreign office may be delayed beyond my term of service; and the case may tend to influence such instructions on the general subject as you shall desire to give to my successor. I therefore forward it without awaiting the reply.

I have, &c.,

[Inclosure 1 in No. 223.]

Mr. Kasson to Dr. Busch.

The undersigned, envoy, &c., of the United States of America, begs the attention of Dr. Busch, under secretary of state, &c, in charge of the imperial foreign office, to the case of Ernst F. Heitmüller, and to the facts alleged by him to be true as hereinafter stated.

The said Heitmüller was born at Hüpede, Kreis Wennigsen, Hanover, on December 25, 1860, emigrated to the United States in January, 1878, and has since that time continuously resided in the United States. He was lawfully naturalized as a citizen of that country on the 10th of November, 1884, as appears by the original certificate herewith inclosed. He returned to Germany a few weeks since for a temporary visit, in order to collect a sum of money inherited by him, arriving at Hüpede on the 5th of December last. On the 9th of December he announced his presence to the Gemeinde Vorsteher, stating his purpose to remain about six months to collect the inheritance, and at the same time exhibiting his citizen paper, showing himself to be an American citizen. Two days later, on the 11th, a gendarme came to the house of his stepmother, where he was staying, and said he must arrest him and take him to Hanover, adding that if he had money he could go by rail, otherwise they would have to walk, a distance of some 9 miles. He inquired for what he was arrested. The gendarme replied, it was not yet certain he had arrested the right man.

On his arrival at Hanover he was taken to the jail (Zellmgefangniss), where a police official caused all his personal effects, money, citizen paper, and other papers to be taken from him. He called attention at the time to his American citizenship and to the paper proving it. The official made a note on a protocol or paper, and Heitmüller was then conducted to a cell.

On the next day, December 12, he was brought before another official, who said to him, “You are Frederich Heitmüller, and have been fined for evasion of military duty.” He replied, “My name is Ernst Heitmüller,” and then he was sent back to his cell. On the next day, 13th December, he was brought again before the official, who told him he had been fined 300 marks for evasion of military duty, which he must pay with costs. He answered that he had not the money with him, but would procure it if allowed three days’ time. He was answered this could not be done, but he should announce to the Gefängniss Vorstand that he wished to write a letter. He was taken back to his cell, and demanded of the jailer (Gefangenen-Aufseher) to obtain for him from the Vorstand permission to write a letter. The jailer put him off from day to day, and finally informed him that he could not write until he had passed a month at the prison.

His cousin meantime found out his place of confinement and visited him in prison on January 3. The facts were reported immediately to Heitmüller’s uncle, who on January 5, was permitted to pay the fine and obtain his release. In that payment an allowance at the rate of 5 marks per day during an imprisonment of 26 days was made, equal to 130 marks, and a balance of 240.54 marks was paid in money.

The undersigned has therefore the honor to request that the alleged facts may be investigated. If found to be correctly stated, he does not allow himself to doubt that his Imperial Majesty’s Government will appreciate the gravity of the offense committed by the local officers referred to against a peaceful American citizen, who gave them the proof of his citizenship, which exempted him from liability according to the treaty of 1868, and under the explicit orders of the minister of justice (July 5, 1868), and of the minister of the interior (July 6, 1868).

The offense appears to be aggravated by the unusual denial of the privilege of communicating by letter with either his relations or the officers” of his own Government, and by the unnecessary prolongation of his confinement. Under these circumstances, if verified, it is hoped that His Majesty’s Government will not find its sense [Page 408] of justice satisfied by the refunding of the fine; but will also find a method of signifying to the offending officials its sense of the unusual hardships inflicted upon the complainant without cause.

While requesting the eventual return of the inclosed certificate of naturalization, the undersigned takes, &c.

[Inclosure 2 in No. 223—Translation.]

Dr. Busch to Mr. Kasson.

The undersigned has the honor, replying to the esteemed note of the 29th ultimo, to inform Mr. John A. Kasson, envoy extraordinary and minister plenipotentiary of the United States of America, that measures have been instituted to cause a close investigation of the case of Ernst F. Heitmüller, of Hüpede, to be made by the appropriate authority.

While the undersigned reserves to himself to make a further communication, he avails, &c.