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

No. 5330

Sir: I have the honor to transmit herewith for the Department’s information a copy of a memorandum calling to the attention of the American and Allied Governments certain violations of the conditions of the recently established armistice by the German Army of occupation at present preparing to evacuate Lithuanian territory.

I have the honor to add that a copy of the enclosed memorandum has been forwarded to the American Embassy at Paris.

I have [etc.]

Pleasant A. Stovall

Memorandum 6

The attention of the American and the Allied Governments is earnestly invited to the flagrant violations of the conditions of the recently established armistice which have been and are being committed by the German army of occupation now preparing to evacuate Lithuanian territory. These troops are now somewhat disorganized and in a state of semi-revolt, their discipline being weakened. Instead, however, of checking their excesses, both the military and civil authorities tolerate and even encourage them. The pillage which, under the name of requisitions, has devastated the entire land and reduced the inhabitants to the direst poverty everywhere and, in places, to absolute famine, visibly increase against the day of evacuation now imminent. Not only are all foodstuffs unlawfully seized but also the rolling stock of the railways; the very rails are torn up and all telegraph and telephone materials are taken. The horses and cattle actually in German possession, which [Page 25] were seized forcibly from the peasants and proprietors and should be left in the country, are also being got ready for transport into Prussia. Munitions and stores from the forts are taken and, in the case of the greatest fortress in the land, Kowno, built by the Russians, some twenty-five kilometres of triple rows of iron fencing are being dismounted to be removed. This fortress, left practically intact by the Russians, when they retreated in 1915, is being, as far as possible, dismantled.

The ruinous destruction of the forests, one of the country’s chief sources of wealth, goes forward, unhindered by the conditions of the armistice and the protests of the people. All the steamboats and other craft on the Niemen, the property of companies and individuals, is likewise being taken into Prussia, and thus is the country deprived of all means of transport.

If this robbery and destruction is not promptly stopped, the few poor remnants of the country’s resources overlooked by the organized plundering of the last three years, will disappear.

General Pershing has been appealed to, for a force of ten thousand Lithuano-American soldiers. The way is open for transporting such a force to Libau. Arms, ammunition and military stores sufficient for a local militia force of twenty thousand men have also been solicited from General Pershing.

The mere knowledge that such aid was at hand would encourage and reinforce the law-abiding people and subdue the seditiously inclined. These troops would restore tranquillity, maintain order and discourage lawlessness, until such time as the Lithuanian Government should be able to organize and to assume these tasks. Meantime the German authorities should be required to observe in good faith the terms of the armistice they have signed.

  1. Source of memorandum not indicated.