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File No. 600.119/45

The Minister in Switzerland ( Stovall ) to the Secretary of State


824. The Swiss are very much exercised over the rumor that the United States intended to cut down the importations of wheat and cotton so as to conform to the figures of 1913. The Swiss explain that before the war they drew much of their wheat from Russia and Roumania which now they are obliged to get from America. The large increase in imports from the United States does not mean that Switzerland is shipping surplus of food or raw materials to Germany but that these supplies are actually needed in Switzerland. Swiss Foreign Office explains this to me with much care and emphasis and assures the President of the United States that the Swiss Society of Surveillance guards exports and imports very severely and assures the absolute regularity of commercial relations of Switzerland with the Allies. This fact is borne out by British Minister here who naturally watches the situation very closely and who assures me privately that his Government is very well satisfied with the present attitude of Switzerland. There is great sympathy for Switzerland on the part of France and England. Switzerland has no seaport and in spite of her great need for charity and her kindness to all parties she is at the mercy of conflicting interests and warring nations clamoring for compensation and restricting her commercial independence. As exaggerated press reports have initiated public opinion and created some feeling against the United States, I suggest that I be authorized to communicate something like the following to the Swiss Foreign Office:

Pursuant to instructions from the President of the United States I have the honor to convey to the Swiss Federal Council, and through it to the Swiss people, the assurance that the measures which my Government may find necessary to take in order to prevent the exportation of foodstuffs and other supplies from the United States into Germany are in no wise directed against the legitimate requirements of Switzerland. The United States has entered into this war to defend the rights of neutrals unjustly infringed by illegal submarine warfare as conducted by Germany. To prevent supplies from reaching Germany forms but one of the measures of war which my Government has adopted and this measure as all others is directed at Germany and in no wise at Switzerland, a sister Republic with which the Government and people of the United States are attached by ties of deep and lasting friendship.