File No. 763.72114/284

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


1824. As a result of the conferences I cabled about in my No. 1756,1 the German Government has now sent me a note which embodies result of our arrangement as follows:

Principles for securing information concerning the condition of prisoners in belligerent countries:

The belligerents undertake to transmit to those countries whose subjects are held by them as prisoners of war, whether combatant or non-combatant, a compilation of the provisions which they have adopted for the treatment of prisoners to include those relating to lodging, clothing, and food, as well as correspondence and the forwarding of money and presents in kind. In case any special supplementary regulations have been issued in single detention camps, such regulations shall be made known to the diplomatic or consular representatives who have charge of the protection of the prisoners when they inspect such camps.
General permission to inspect the detention camps shall be given to the chiefs of the diplomatic missions who have charge of the protection of the prisoners, [and] to the diplomatic or consular officers of their country who may be designated by them. They shall announce visits to the commanders of the camp at least 24 hours beforehand if possible.
The diplomatic or consular representatives specified in paragraph second shall be free to converse with the prisoners, in the presence but beyond hearing distance of the commander of the camp or such officer as may be detailed by him, and to hear their wishes and complaints. The conversations shall not however embrace other subjects than such wishes and complaints except with the express permission of the commander of the camp. Before leaving a camp, the diplomatic or consular representative will notify the commander of any wishes and complaints and will not submit them to the superior authorities of the commander unless the commander declares himself unable or unwilling to consider the wishes or to remedy conditions forming the subject of complaint.

In the covering note the Foreign Office states that, contingent on reciprocal action on the part of the enemy powers, the German Government accepts the proposals of the American Government relative [Page 1012] to securing information concerning the condition of prisoners in the form agreed upon as above, and hopes you can secure assent to these proposals of the government of the powers with which Germany is at war.

With regard to the fund of £20,000 made available by the British Government for British combatant and non-combatant prisoners, Foreign Office states there are no objections to its distribution, but it cannot be used in any event for purchase of tobacco, chocolate, bread, or cake from German and Austrian supplies. However no objection is interposed to sending simple foodstuffs, sweets, etc., to prisoners from home, but prisoners will not be allowed bread in excess of allotment which is same as that of German troops quartered among civilians. Allotted rations being adequate for Germans, they are adequate for prisoners also who cannot be permitted to live better than population of captor.

  1. Not printed.