Ambassador Tower to the Secretary of State.

No. 798.]

Sir: I have the Honor to report to you for your information the case of one Maurice Kahn, a native of Alsace naturalized as an American citizen, who has been fined 600 marks for nonperformance of military service and whose application for the removal of that fine has recently been rejected by the German authorities upon the ground that as he was born in Alsace he is held to be still a German subject.

It appears that Maurice Kahn was born at Biesheim, Kreis Colmar, in Ober-Elsass, on the 30th of June, 1879, and emigrated to the United States in 1891 or 1892. He does not remember the exact date of his emigration, though he says that he was 12 or 13 3years of age at the time. Since the date of his emigration he has not returned to Germany, but was naturalized as a citizen of the United States before the district court of the third judicial district of Oklahoma on October 18, 1904, in proof of which he has exhibited at this embassy the certificate of his naturalization in due form issued by that court.

He applied to this embassy in June, 1905, for permission to return to Alsace-Lorraine for the purpose of making a visit and I addressed a note to the Imperial German ministry for foreign affairs on the 25th of July, setting forth his request for permission to revisit his former home and asking that, if the facts of his case as presented by him were found to be substantially true, his desire might be acceded to.

I have received a reply from the ministry for foreign affairs, under date of the 28th of October, 1905, in which the ministry declares that Maurice Kahn was condemend by the Imperial provincial court at Colmar on the 9th of December, 1903, to pay a fine of 600 marks for evasion of military service and that orders were issued to the police officials for his arrest. The ministry declares that “as Kahn is still a subject of Alsace-Lorraine he requires no especial permission to reside within this country, but if he should return he would be liable to fulfill the sentence passed upon him, as well as to the ultimate performance of his military service.”

This case, which is similar to those of Emil B. Kauffman (Foreign Relations, 1896, p. 186), Casimir Hartmann (Foreign Relations 1897, p. 230), Jacob Roos (Foreign Relations 1903, p. 442), and Emil Vibert (Foreign Relations 1904, p. 317), indicates that the German Government still maintains its attitude in regard to the connection of the Reichsland provinces of Alsace and Lorraine with the Empire and confirms its determination hitherto frequently announced not to admit that the treaty of naturalization with the United States entered into in 1868 extends to those provinces as well as to other portions of the Empire.

Since receiving the note of the 28th of October from the Imperial ministry for foreign affairs I have made a verbal inquiry there as to whether the authorities would be willing to grant permission to Mr. Kahn to return to his native country upon a further request of this embassy and in view of his naturalization as an American citizen: but I have received a verbal reply that as the naturalization treaty with the United States is not considered by the German Government [Page 471] to apply to Alsace-Lorraine the German authorities still regard Kahn as a subject of those provinces.

The situation is a singular one in view of the extraordinary privileges of autonomy and protective control enjoyed by the provinces of Alsace and Lorraine, which were fully discussed in Mr. Olney’s dispatch of the 3d of March, 1896, to Mr. Jackson (Foreign Relations 1896, p. 187). But until the United States and Germany shall agree upon some terms by which American naturalization may be recognized equally throughout the whole Empire there appears to be no method by which a native of Alsace-Lorraine can claim in those provinces the privileges of American citizenship, even after his naturalization in the United States.

I have discussed this question at considerable length with the authorities at the Imperial German ministry for foreign affairs upon several occasions since I have been at this post, and the general impression that I have obtained is that the difficulty does not arise exclusively in regard to the naturalization in America of subjects of those provinces, but that the relation of the Reichsland to the whole of the Empire is such in view of the fact that when Alsace and Lorraine were ceded to Germany the present federation had already been formed and the Empire established, in consequence of which the provinces belong to the federation as a whole and not to any particular state, no one of the federated states of the Empire having any greater rights or authority in the Reichsland than has any other; that consequently there are a number of quite delicate questions in connection with these provinces still in abeyance between the different federated states of the Empire which the government is unwilling to take up at present and which may not be definitively settled for some years to come. I have gained the impression that it is chiefly this consideration which prevents an agreement with us in regard to Alsace-Lorraine, lest the extension at present of our treaty of naturalization to the provinces of the Reichsland should create a precedent that might be found embarrassing hereafter in the adjustment of certain unsettled claims between the States of the Empire themselves.

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I have, etc.,

Charlemagne Tower.