Chargé Dodge to the Secretary of State.

No. 839.]

Sir: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of the Department’s instruction No. 392, of August 15 last, in regard to the desire of one Hans Wilhelm Peters to be released from military service in the [Page 469] German army on account of his American citizenship. In accordance with this instruction the ambassador addressed a communication on September 6 last, to Count von Pourtalès, at that time imperial acting secretary of state for foreign affairs. In this communication, after giving the facts of the case, so far as they are known to the embassy, the ambassador stated that there seemed to be some doubt as to the facts concerning Peters’s enlistment in the German army, as well as some question as to whether he did not represent himself to the German military authorities to be a German subject, and whether he did not voluntarily enlist. The ambassador further stated:

If he returned to Germany during his minority, with the intention of remaining here, he would be obliged by the laws of the United States to elect, at the time when he reached the age of 21 years, whether he would conserve the citizenship acquired by him through the naturalization of his father or return to the nationality conferred upon him by his birth. In consequence of this, if Hans Wilhelm Peters enlisted voluntarily in the German army just after he had attained his majority, that act may be regarded as an indication that he had chosen German nationality, and that he is not now entitled to the protection of the Government of the United States.

The ambassador accordingly requested that he might be furnished with the facts in regard to the enlistment of Peters.

To-day a reply to this communication has been received from Dr. von Mühlberg, imperial under secretary of state for foreign affairs, of which a copy and English translations are annexed. This communication states that Peters was admitted on April 11, 1903, by the Regierungs-Präsident of Schleswig-Holstein to Prussian allegiance again, at his own request, and that as he is therefore a German his request through the embassy to be released from German military service can not be acceded to.

It is noted that as Peters was born on January 24, 1883, he was still a minor at the time he is stated to have been naturalized a German. He was therefore not then competent to renounce his American citizenship, and accordingly would still have been considered to be an American citizen. Upon becoming of age, however, on January 24, 1904, he continued living in Germany, and that in connection with his previous voluntary German naturalization and the other facts of his case would seem to show that he had intended to renounce his American citizenship before his enlistment in the German army.

I have, etc.,

H. Percival Dodge.

The Minister for Foreign Affairs to Chargé Dodge.

The undersigned, referring to his excellency the ambassador’s note of the 6th September last, has the honor to inform Mr. H. Percival Dodge, chargé d’affaires of the United States of America, that Hans Wilhelm Peters, now serving in Infantry Regiment Graf Bose (1st Thuringian) No. 31, was, at his own request readmitted to Prussian allegiance by the Royal Prussian Regierungs-Präsident at Schleswig on the 11th April, 1903.

Since Peters is therefore a German his request made through the embassy for release from military service can not be acceded to.

The undersigned avails himself, etc.,