File No. 763.72114/148

The Secretary of State to the Ambassador in Great Britain (Page)1


963. Your 1352, December 28, and 1377, December 31,2 about prisoners of war. You may say informally to the British Government that this Government is willing to undertake the work outlined in Anderson’s report of December 1 for inspecting and reporting on prisoners’ camps and distributing among prisoners supplies from their own government, if that is desired by the governments concerned; but as stated in that report it rests with the belligerent governments to set this work in motion, and this Government does not feel at liberty to tender its good offices in bringing about the arrangements suggested until it is requested to do so.

The following suggestions might be considered as a basis for a plan of operation: (1) Each of the belligerent governments should furnish immediately, for the information of the other, a complete statement of its policy with regard to the treatment of prisoners, with full details showing the supplies furnished and the conditions of their [Page 1005] life during internment, supplemented by copies of orders and instructions issued from time to time to the commandants of the prisoners’ camps; (2) the belligerents should permit the representatives of the United States in each country to have access to the prisoners and permit the prisoners to furnish written statements about their treatment and conditions of life, and their requirements, which they wish to have communicated to their own government; (3) in undertaking; this work the Government of the United States will assume no responsibilities of any kind beyond the mere transmission of the statements and the distribution of the supplies furnished as above indicated, in accordance with such restrictions and regulations as are imposed by the governments concerned.

For your information: If the British Government request this Government to undertake this work, Gerard will be instructed to ascertain if the German Government will give necessary authorization. It is advisable that the British Government should at the same time express their willingness that corresponding arrangements be made on behalf of German prisoners in Great Britain if the German Government so desires, in order that the German Government may be so informed.

A copy of this cable has been sent to Gerard, and he has been informed that as soon as the British Government are advised that effective arrangements can be made, they will transmit immediately £20,000 for use in providing extra food, money, and other necessaries, for British prisoners in Germany.

  1. Repeated, for his information, to the Ambassador in Germany, January 15, No. 1007.
  2. Not printed.