File No. 138/55
The Minister in Belgium (Whitlock) to the Secretary of State
[Received January 2, 1915, 7.32 p. m.]
American tourists continue to come to Belgium ostensibly to do charity work, bring in money or take out women and children, but in reality to satisfy curiosity and a desire to see Belgium. Despite all our warnings and public announcements of German military authorities a great many of them persist in carrying private letters and doing other things that might affect our neutrality. Subordinate German frontier officials usually permit entry into Belgium without difficulty on presentation of ordinary passport, but traveling about the country and departure from it require special representations by the Legation, use of influence which should be devoted to more important matters, and add to our responsibility. I feel very strongly that we should take all possible measures to preserve the influence and prestige of the Legation and commission upon which the food supply of the civil population now depends.
I venture therefore to urge upon the Department that it decline to grant passports for traveling into Belgium except in cases of proven necessity. I venture further to recommend that the Department endorse ordinary passports “not good for traveling into Belgium.” I trust that the Department will also advise diplomatic and consular officers in this sense and will further advise them to dissuade bearers of passports from attempting to cross the border.