File No. 124.55/8

The Minister in Belgium ( Whitlock) to the Secretary of State


44. I had an interview with Lancken Saturday, having previously acquainted him with the conditions set forth in the Department’s February 15. In view of Hoover’s instructions to the commission to remain, we no longer discussed that point but confined our remarks to my position. Lancken assured me again of their great desire to have me remain for the benefit of the relief, stating that he considered my presence and my personal influence with the different national elements involved of the utmost necessity. He was disposed to accord me all the privileges of a practical nature that I have formerly enjoyed, but on the question of the form of diplomatic recognition he said that they could not yield in principle because the United States had notified Germany of its desire to have no further diplomatic relations with it. As to the flag he preferred that I should not fly it on the Legation, because he said that as they were probably on the eve of great military movements the city is full of troops and he feared that some irresponsible soldier might provoke an incident that would aggravate the situation. As to the courier he proposed an arrangement that would permit me free correspondence, but insisted that my courier go out with that of the Spanish Legation. I told him that this was a privilege I already enjoyed and that the concession did not seem very large. He then asked me to wait until to-day when he would send me a letter. I have just received the [Page 647] letter which addressed me personally and assiduously avoiding any reference to a recognition of my diplomatic quality, is merely a polite repetition of his desire and of the desire of the Governor General to have me remain. Under the circumstances, I am informing the Germans that I shall withdraw at once from the occupied territory. It may require some days for them to obtain the passports, which must come from Berlin, and to prepare a train, difficult to arrange at times. Kellogg is on his way from London.