763.72119/2882: Telegram

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

6020. The following is a translation of communication received from Swiss Political Department on behalf of German Legation, Berne. Political Department requests answer as soon as possible:

“The army of Mackensen had already begun its withdrawal from Roumania via Hungary when the armistice was signed on November 11th. Other retreating German troops who had previously fought in Siberia were also on Hungarian soil at this time. According to [Page 39] article 12 of armistice of November 11th the German troops were to immediately withdraw behind the German borders of August 1st, 1914 but no period for the execution of this withdrawal was fixed. In execution of this article the German troops from Roumania and other troops mentioned above which joined them in Hungary have continued to march home with the greatest possible speed. The Hungarian Government announced that in accordance with the request of the Supreme Command of the French Orient army, the special armistice which it concluded with the Entente on November 4th called for the evacuation of Hungarian territory by German troops within the fixed period of 14 days. After negotiations with the army [of] Mackensen, in accordance with the general armistice of November 11th, the Hungarian Government then silently allowed the retreat of German troops up to November 25th. On November 27th General Berthelot who had apparently meanwhile assumed supreme command of the Entente troops in Hungary informed Field Marshal Mackensen that Marshal Foch ‘rejected a change in the armistice conditions of November 11th for the German [omission?] front and demands the disarming and internment of Mackensen’s army.’ According to the German attitude the measures thus far taken by the army [of] Mackensen are not contradictory to the armistice conditions of November 11th and consequently Marshal Foch’s hypotheses for the rejection of change of these conditions is unrased [sic]. In a legal sense the armistice of November 11th also annuls the agreement of November 4th, concluded between Hungary and the Entente army regarding the withdrawal of German troops from Roumania and Hungary. The German Government was never notified of this agreement of November 4th. The present situation forces Germany to fulfill the new French demands. The German Government must however expressly characterize these as measures of force and expects that it will be given opportunity through its German representatives at Spa, who have been instructed in this regard today, to present its standpoint again in a conference with the Armistice Commission. Its standpoint in this matter is as follows: In the armistice treaty of November 11th which annuls all former agreements regarding the withdrawal of German troops from Roumania and Hungary and is alone authoritative, a period for the German withdrawal was not fixed and there was no question of internment. As the German troops are actually withdrawing with the greatest possible speed behind the German borders of August 1st, 1914, their internment would be contrary to law and which will represent a measure of force in no wise justified.”