File No. 125.0055/1

The Secretary of State to the Ambassador in Germany (Gerard)


1044. Note verbale enclosed in your despatch 308. You are instructed to present the following to the German Government:

The Government of the United States has received and given consideration to the note verbale of the Imperial Government dated November 30, 1914, in which it is stated that the German Army now having occupied various portions of enemy countries, the German Government considers the exequaturs of the consuls, formerly permitted to act in such districts, to have expired. That the Imperial Government would, however, be disposed to consider favorably any wishes of allied and neutral countries respecting the establishment of consular offices in the districts in question, excepting, of course, those districts where military operations are still in course; and that the Imperial Government would not consider the issuance of formal exequaturs advisable; to consular officers, whose names are communicated to the Foreign Office, would simply be granted temporary recognition to enable them to act in their official capacity, under reserve of the usual investigations respecting their records.

The Government of the United States, in view of the fact that consular officers are commercial and not political representatives of a government and that permission for them to act within defined districts is dependent upon the authority which is in actual control of such districts irrespective of the question of legal right, and further, in view of the fact that the consular districts, to which reference is made in the note verbale of the Imperial Government, are within the territory now under German military occupation, is not inclined at this time to question the right of the Imperial Government to suspend the exequaturs of the consular officers of the United [Page 918] States within the districts which are occupied by the military forces of the German Empire and subject to its military jurisdiction.

The Government of the United States notes that all the consular districts in Belgian territory occupied by the German military forces, excepting Brussels, Antwerp, and Liége, are considered by the Imperial Government to be within the zone of military operations and that within such districts, except those named, the Imperial Government will not permit consular officers to exercise their functions.

The Government of the United States in the circumstances assumes that the Imperial Government will raise no objection to the consular officers of the United States now stationed at Brussels, Antwerp, Liége, and other places similarly situated acting in their official capacity, and that, if the de facto authorities at those cities object on personal grounds to any of such officers continuing, the Government of the United States will be forthwith notified of such objection.