Mr. Tower to Mr. Hay.
Berlin, April 5, 1904.
Sir: I have the honor to call to your attention the case of one Emil Vibert, a naturalized American citizen now residing in New York, who has recently expressed a desire to return to Germany upon a visit.
It appears that Mr. Vibert was born in St. Quirin, Lorraine, on the 1st of February, 1874, and emigrated to the United States with his father in 1886, having resided in America ever since. He was naturalized in the United States district court for the southern district of New York on the 22d of November, 1895, as is shown by his naturalization certificate, which was duly presented at this Embassy.
The case was brought to my attention by the United States consul at Kehl on the 18th of December, 1903, by a letter in which the consul informed me that Mr. Vibert’s father now resides at St. Quirin, in Lorraine, and Mr. Vibert “would like to have permission to visit his old home for a period of six months, namely, from April 1 until September 30, 1904.”
Upon receipt of this letter and upon due proof of the naturalization of Mr. Vibert, I addressed a note, on the 28th of December, 1903, to the imperial German ministry for foreign affairs, asking that Mr. Vibert might be allowed to visit his father, in accordance with his request.
I have now received a note verbale, under date of the 27th of March, 1904, from the ministry for foreign affairs, a copy and a translation into English of which are herewith inclosed, in which the ministry announces that Emil Vibert is still a German subject and was condemned by the court in Zabern, on the 5th of April, 1897, to pay a fine of 600 marks or to undergo an imprisonment of forty days, with the costs, for nonperformance of military duty, which sentence has as yet not been carried out.
Mr. Vibert’s American citizenship is not recognized in Germany, under the old contention that the treaties with the United States in regard to naturalization do not apply to the imperial provinces of Alsace and Lorraine, and therefore the ministry for foreign affairs announces that as a German subject he does not require permission to return to his own country, but that if he comes back to his home the sentence now pending against him will be carried out and he will be forcibly enrolled in the army.
But the ministry further announces that, in view of the intervention of the embassy of the United States in behalf of Mr. Vibert, the authorities of Alsace and Lorraine have declared themselves willing, upon payment by him of the fine imposed upon him and the costs, to grant a request, if made by him, for his release from German nationality and then to give him permission to make a visit to Alsace-Lorraine.
A copy of the entire correspondence relating to this case is herewith respectfully inclosed.
I have, etc.,