File No. 811.142/579b

The Secretary of State to the American Diplomatic and Consular Officers


Gentlemen: In furtherance of its commendable efforts to assist in the alleviation of suffering incident to the existing hostilities in [Page 1041] Europe, the American National Red Cross has established Red Cross hospitals at various places on the Continent under the direction of American physicians. These hospitals should receive the earnest and sympathetic support of every diplomatic and consular officer of the United States to the end that the efforts of Americans in the interest of suffering humanity may be as effective and creditable as possible.

Occupation with other questions has until now prevented the Department from issuing specific instructions in regard to the relation of officers of the foreign service to the work of the Red Cross, and those officers have, therefore, used their own discretion as to the nature and extent of the support which they may properly extend to the American Red Cross in belligerent territory. In the exercise of this discretion, it is understood that members of the Diplomatic and Consular Service and their wives are serving in a number of places as patrons of American Red Cross hospitals, and this appears to the Department to be peculiarly appropriate and deserving of its cordial approval. It seems desirable, however, that the participation of those officers in the work of the Red Cross should not be carried beyond this point. In order that misunderstandings should not occur and circumstances which might interfere with the successful management of these hospitals be avoided, members of the Diplomatic and Consular Service should carefully refrain from serving as officers of Red Cross hospitals or organizations or taking any part in the administration of them. For reasons that need no explanation there should be no action on the part of any member of the foreign service that could be construed as official control over any part of the work of the Red Cross.

It is not doubted that circumstances may arise when the exercise of good offices of diplomatic and consular officers with the governmental authorities of belligerent countries will be necessary and in such cases it is expected that upon the request of the representatives of the Red Cross the most cordial support and cooperation will be extended.

The foregoing outlines briefly the principles which the Department desires to have observed in the relations between the diplomatic and consular officers and the representatives of the American National Red Cross.

I am [etc.]

For the Secretary of State:
Robert Lansing