File No. 705.6254/17

The Secretary of State to the War Trade Board

Gentlemen: The Department encloses herewith, for consideration, a copy of a memorandum from the Legation of Switzerland, dated October 31, 1917, together with copies of enclosures received therewith,1 in relation to a demand made by the lessors that the Swiss Consul in New York obtain a license, under the Trading with the Enemy Act, in order to continue to occupy certain premises at [Page 616] No. 11 Broadway, the lease on which was originally concluded by the German Government with the Broadway Realty Co.

The Department does not concur in the opinion expressed by Masten and Nichols, counsel for the lessors, that the premises in question are occupied by the Swiss Consul “as agent for the German Government,” and that he, therefore, should secure a license to continue to occupy them.

Upon the severance of diplomatic relations with Germany, this Government on February 6, 1917, consented to the Swiss Government assuming charge, through the Swiss Minister, of German interests in this country, and to it taking over, through the Swiss consular officers, the German consulates in the cities of New York, Philadelphia, New Orleans, Cincinnati, St. Louis, Chicago, San Francisco, Seattle, St. Paul, Denver, and Manila. It is the opinion of the Department that the Swiss consular officers took charge of the German consulates as representatives of the Swiss Government and that they did not thereby become “officers,” “officials,” or “agents” of the German Government within the meaning of the Trading with the Enemy Act, and that this act, reasonably construed, ought not to be held to apply to them.

The Department requests, therefore, that the War Trade Board take such steps as it may deem best to secure the Swiss Consul from interference as by issuing a license to the lessors in the event that it is considered necessary for them to have one.

I am [etc.]

For the Secretary of State:
William Phillips
Assistant Secretary
  1. Not printed.