File No. 763.72114/2512

The Ambassador in Austria-Hungary ( Penfield) to the Secretary of State


1770. Department’s 1587, March 8, regarding care of Austro-Hungarian interests in Russia. Following is translation of aide-mémoire from Minister of Foreign Affairs, dated March 18, replying to Embassy’s aide-mémoire of March 10 in which Department’s communication was informally conveyed to the Minister:

In the Very esteemed aide-mémoire No. 12114 of the 10th instant the Embassy of the United States of America was pleased to allude to the fact that the protection, not only of the Austro-Hungarian citizens detained in Russia partly as prisoners of war and partly as civilian internes, but also of the German subjects under the same circumstances with which the American Embassy in Petrograd was hitherto charged had been organized and effected in accordance with a well-thought-out and combined system, but that this manner of working had naturally become impossible from the moment the protection of German interests in Russia had devolved on Sweden.

This new situation has now given rise to some practical difficulties and the American Government, therefore, thinks it necessary to take the question into consideration as to whether it would not be in the interest of the Austrian and Hungarian citizens concerned if their protection were now again to be placed in the same hands as that of the Germans.

The Imperial and Royal Government is able fully to appreciate the idea prompting this step of the Washington Cabinet and sees therein a renewed proof of the profound seriousness and scrupulous conscientiousness with which the American Government undertakes its duty as a protective power. But this very recognition, strengthened and increased hereby, inspires the Imperial and Royal Government with the sincere wish that the United States Government may see its way to continuing its eminently humanitarian activity in Russia, thus procuring the Imperial and Royal Government the satisfactory assurance it so highly esteems that the care of the interests here at stake, whereby the fate of individuals is so vitally affected, will remain in the same tried and trustworthy hands as hitherto.

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If, therefore, as the Imperial and Royal Government believes it may confidently hope the United States Government should find itself disposed to continue the protection of the Austrian and Hungarian citizens in Russia in spite of the practical difficulties it has pointed out, which moreover the American functionaries concerned will doubtless be able to overcome by means of their eminent and intimate knowledge of the conditions in question, this will certainly constitute yet a further claim to the gratitude which the Imperial and Royal Government owes to the very meritorious activity the American Government has so generously displayed since the beginning of the war for the good of the Austrians and Hungarians that are suffering the tribulations of captivity.

Vienna, March 18, 1917.