File No. 763.72114/4097

The Chargé in the Netherlands ( Bliss ) to the Secretary of State


4832. Belgian prelate who left Malines yesterday has just delivered a letter addressed by Cardinal Mercier to President Wilson, translation of which follows in my 4833. Sagua, bearer of letter, states that after transmission of German peace note but before President’s reply was received Von der Lancken, [head of] German Political Department, communicated to Cardinal substance of declaration enclosed in above-mentioned letter but that it was not until Thursday, October 17, that Von der Lancken called on the Cardinal and presented written copy of the declaration together with passport for the purpose to proceed to Holland with letters from Cardinal. The declaration as originally presented contained no mention of date on which liberation of Belgian prisoners and deported should commence, and date October 21 was added in writing by Von der Lancken after a conversation with Cardinal Mercier. Prelate adds that similar letters from Cardinal are being sent to Pope and King of Belgium and that above-mentioned declaration [Page 371] from Von der Lancken, with exception of first sentence and closing phrase, will be made public in Belgian churches tomorrow.

Prelate, who was allowed by Germans to cross into Holland without usual frontier formalities, plans to return to Malines Tuesday, October 22.

Original letter and enclosure are being sent in pouch.