Mr. Herdliska to Mr. Hay.
Vienna , October 9, 1899 .
Sir: I have the honor to report upon the case of William Trauber as follows:
Pursuant to the Department’s instruction, No. 33, of the 4th of August, 1899, Mr. Harris, in a note dated the 21st of August, 1899, No. 20, a copy of which is respectfully submitted herewith, duly brought to the attention of the Imperial and Royal ministry of foreign affairs the facts and instructions set out therein.
I am now in receipt of a note from the foreign office replying to the representations made to it by Mr. Harris, and beg to respectfully submit my translation of the same herewith.
In this note, Count Welsersheiml, speaking for the Imperial and Royal minister of foreign affairs, declares that—
- There was no reason why the Imperial and Royal consul at Braila should place the Austrian visa demanded by Trauber upon the American passport produced by him because of the fact that the Imperial and Royal regulations require this in the cases of Russian and Turkish passports only, and this because of reciprocal agreements.
- About the time Trauber presented his passport to be visaed a forgery had been committed upon the Austrian banking house of Jeschels & Co., and the Imperial and Royal consulate at Braila, having taken the said banking house under its protection, was assisting in ferreting out the perpetrator, among other ways by refusing to vise the passports of suspicious foreigners.
- When Trauber presented his passport to be viséed, the fact that it had been issued at Athens and not at Bucharest, where Trauber is said to have resided for more than seven years past, and the fact that the said passport had the printed word “legation” crossed out and the word “consulate” written over it—a procedure decidedly neither usual nor regular—caused the consul to become suspicious of Trauber, and he consequently refused to visé the passport.
- The consul not only considered himself justified, but found it his duty, in the interests of the injured banking firm, to make known to the head of the said firm, Mr. Chatiner, and an Austrian subject, his suspicions with regard to Trauber’s passport, but that the consul can not be held responsible if the said Chatiner thought it expedient to make known to Trauber what had been communicated to him in the strictest confidence.
- Trauber’s allegation that the consul brought a charge against him [Page 56] before the public prosecution is declared by this Imperial and Royal functionary as not being in accordance with the actual facts.
- The further statements made by Trauber, according to which the consul is alleged to have called the passport in question a falsification, to have screamed at him and made use of expressions such as swindler, etc., and to have threatened to tear up the passport, are also declared not to be in accordance with the actual facts.
- On Trauber appearing for the second time on the 3d of July last with the renewed request to have his passport viséed, the consul repeated to him what he had already told him on his first visit, viz, that the viséing of his passport was not necessary and that he could travel with it throughout the Austro-Hungarian Empire without submitting it to the said formula; nevertheless, if Trauber considered the viséing so very desirable, he need only to send the passport for this purpose first to the American consul and then to the Imperial and Royal consular authority at Bucharest, which might easily be effected through the post.
- On Trauber’s insisting, however, in peremptory tones, on having the viséing carried out on the part of the Imperial and Royal consulate at Braila, the consul requested him, in decided but in no wise insolent terms, to desist and to leave the office.
- Finally, Count Welsersheimb declares that according to the above statements there can be no question of disrespect having been shown to the passport of the naturalized American citizen William Trauber on the part of the Imperial and Royal consul at Braila, who, as aforesaid, gave him, the claimant, implicitly to understand that he could travel through the Monarchy with his American passport without undergoing the formula of viséing. If, therefore, the consul, taking the unusual circumstances of the case into consideration, refused to comply with William Trauber’s obstinate demands to visé his passport, which he, the consul, did not consider himself morally obliged to do, he can not, under any pretext whatosever, be charged with a violation of his official duties either in one or the other direction.
I have the honor to submit herewith also the passport in question, which Mr. Trauber, upon the occasion of a personal visit to this legation, in the interest of his case, left with me. I beg that the Department will kindly return the same when finished with it, in order that this legation may again return it to Mr. Trauber.
Awaiting any further instructions you may be pleased to give with reference to this case,
I have, etc.,
Chargé d’Affaires ad interim.