File No. 763.72114/338

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


1856. Your 1334, March 29. Following is complete text of British note, dated March 20:

I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your excellency’s note of the 17th instant forwarding the text of a telegram from Mr. Gerard received through the Secretary of State at Washington with regard to the “principles [Page 1016] for securing information concerning the condition of prisoners in belligerent countries.”

It will perhaps be convenient if the points raised are dealt with in the order followed in the above-mentioned telegram.

In my notes to your excellency of December 2, December 14 and February 3 I had the honor to forward to your excellency full information regarding the treatment accorded to German prisoners of war and interned civilians in the United Kingdom. This information covered the questions of housing, rations, sanitary conditions, occupation, clothing, money, correspondence, washing, officers’ pay, and general treatment. His Majesty’s Government consider therefore that the German Government have for some time been in a position to satisfy themselves that German prisoners of war and interned civilians in the United Kingdom are being treated in a most humane way. His Majesty’s Government are quite prepared to communicate to your excellency any special supplementary regulations which may be issued in single detention camps.
His Majesty’s Government are gratified to learn that the German Government are prepared on condition of reciprocity to grant the chiefs of the diplomatic missions who have charge of the protection of the prisoners as well as the diplomatic or consular officers of their country—in this case United States officials—general permission to inspect the detention camps. It is assumed that the above statement read in conjunction with the words “The German Government accepts the proposals of the American Government relative etc.,” in the covering note from the German Foreign Office means that the general permission to inspect the camps will include the United States officials referred to in my note to your excellency of December 26 last who will presumably be attached to the United States Embassy at Berlin, seeing that it would probably be difficult for the regular members of Mr. Gerard’s diplomatic or consular staff to keep in close and continuous touch with the British prisoners of war in the various detention camps. I have the honor to remind your excellency that in my note of January 14 last I expressly stated that His Majesty’s Government would readily give their consent to an arrangement for the benefit of the German prisoners of war and interned civilians in the United Kingdom on exactly similar lines to that proposed for British prisoners of war, etc., in Germany, as detailed in my note of December 26. I pointed out in this connection that an arrangement already exists by which an official of your excellency’s Embassy sees to the general welfare of German prisoners of war and interned civilians in this country and is given special facilities for this purpose. Your excellency will therefore perceive that the German Government are already assured of reciprocity in the above connection.

His Majesty’s Government take note of the remarks made in the final paragraph of your note under reply in connection with the question of the supply of foodstuffs to British combatant and non-combatant prisoners. It is assumed that tobacco, biscuits, sweets, etc., may be sent from the United Kingdom to Germany for the use of the British prisoners, and in view of the fact that meat is, according to the accounts which have reached this country, only supplied in very limited quantities, His Majesty’s Government trust that it may be possible for the United States officials charged with the general welfare of British prisoners in Germany from time to time to purchase meat locally in order to supplement the rations issued to those prisoners.

I should be grateful if your excellency would acquaint the United States Ambassador at Berlin by telegraph with the substance of the foregoing.

American Ambassador