File No. 763.72114/4061

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


3259. Your 4968, September 30, 2 p.m. Department has never received reply from German Government in answer to proposal contained in its 1800, April 24, that certain provisions of the Geneva convention of 1906 and of the Hague Convention No. X of 1907 be by agreement adopted as a modus vivendi by the Governments of Germany and the United States as outlined in Department’s telegram under reference.

You may inform the International Committee Red Cross that this Government does not consider Geneva convention binding in present war on account provisions of article 24 thereof, and because all belligerents not signatory to convention. Similar interpretation has been consistently given to Hague conventions since beginning of war in 1914.

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Department believes objections of Red Cross may be removed by having the conference consider whole matter mentioned in Department’s 1800 as well as relations of Red Cross to prisoner work with view to reaching agreement thereon.1

Ask Herter 2 to inform Department whether its 1800, April 24, was not prepared with knowledge and assent of Red Cross here. Department has no record of correspondence but understands matter was discussed orally with officers of Red Cross before Department’s 1800 was sent.

  1. For final arrangement regarding sanitary personnel see agreement of Nov. 11, 1918, past, p. 103.
  2. Christian A. Herter, Special Assistant to the American Minister in Switzerland.