File No. 365.117/316

Ambassador Penfield to the Secretary of State

No. 1404

Sir: With reference to this Embassy’s telegrams No. 1172 and No. 1185 of March 3 and 14 respectively, I have the honor to enclose herewith copy of a note verbale dated March 9, in which the request contained in my last telegram above mentioned on behalf of the Austro-Hungarian Ministry of War and other details relative to Ghiloni were recited. Copy of the Embassy’s note verbale in reply to this communication is also enclosed for the information of the Department.

I have [etc.]

Frederic C. Penfield
[Inclosure 1—Translation]


With reference to the notes verbales No. 4948 of February 8 and No. 5189 of February 21, 1916, the Imperial and Royal Ministry for Foreign Affairs has the honor to inform the Embassy of the United States of America that it has not failed, upon receipt of these notes, to request the Imperial and Royal Ministry of War for conclusive action in this case by the military authorities.

The Imperial and Royal Ministry of War reports that, while endeavoring to accommodate the Government of the United States, it is obliged to examine the conditions of the case with great care, since Frank Ghiloni was taken prisoner as an Italian soldier with arms in hand by Austro-Hungarian soldiers.

Aside from the proof of identity of Ghiloni still to be furnished, the investigation of this case will principally affect the question whether and to what extent Ghiloni had been compelled to join the Italian army.

In the opinion of the Imperial and Royal Ministry of War this question can not be answered in the affirmative until further development, since it is very likely that, if Ghiloni had been compelled to join the Italian army against his will, as an American citizen he would have appealed to the American Embassy at Rome for protection and by its intervention his dismissal would doubtless have followed.

The anxiety contended as being caused to his mother by Ghiloni’s fate, appears to the Imperial and Royal Ministry of War as hardly justifiable in view of the well-known good treatment accorded to Italian prisoners of war in this country, this so much the more since Ghiloni is at present less exposed [Page 405] to dangers than he was at the time when he fought against the Austro-Hungarian army with arms in hand.

The Imperial and Royal Ministry besides instructed the command of war prisoners’ camps at Mauthausen of the relevant points necessary in the consideration of the case.

As regards to a definite attitude in this case it would be of special interest to the Imperial and Royal Ministry of War to be informed what safeguards could be offered should Ghiloni be dismissed and that in such an event he would not carry arms against Austria-Hungary or its allies during this war.

The Imperial and Royal Ministry for Foreign Affairs awaits information on this point from the Embassy of the United States of America.

[Inclosure 2]


The American Embassy presents its compliments to the Imperial and Royal Ministry for Foreign Affairs and with reference relative to the American citizen, Frank Ghiloni, who was taken prisoner by the Austro-Hungarian forces and is now interned in the Monarchy, has the honor to state that information was received from the Department of State to the effect that the man in question was born at Marlborough, Massachusetts, on August 4, 1885, his father being an Italian subject who obtained naturalization as a citizen of the United States on February 12, 1886; that it further appears that Frank Ghiloni went to Italy when he was two years of age, returning to the United States in May, 1897 and residing there continuously until June, 1914, when he went to Italy for his health upon the advice of his physician. It was during this visit that he was impressed into the Italian Army. Subsequent to his impressment a formal request was made to the competent Italian authorities by the American Embassy at Rome for his release, which was, however, not granted on the ground that “he was born an Italian and only afterwards took up his abode and citizenship in another country”.

This Embassy has cabled to the Department of State requesting information as to what guaranties can be given that Frank Ghiloni will not again bear arms against the Monarchy or its allies during the present war in case he should be released, and in accordance with the request of the Imperial and Royal authorities the desired information will be transmitted upon its receipt