361.11/3474: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Chargé in Great Britain ( Wright )

894. Your 1134, July 28, 4 p.m.72 1201, August 10, 3 p.m. and 1210, August 11, 7 p.m.

Nansen is head of International Red Cross as well as representative of League of Nations. The Department is dealing with him in his Red Cross capacity. You may communicate to him as an agent of the International Red Cross the substance of the following message.

“The Department of State highly appreciates your endeavors on behalf of the American citizens detained in Russia and has given careful attention to the communication from Moscow addressed to you, which was forwarded by the Embassy August 10, 3 p.m. and your message to the Department, transmitted August 11, 7 p.m.

In reply the Department informs you that Mr. Tchicherin is sadly misinformed about conditions in America. In order to avoid the question of the jurisdiction of the Russian Consulates over citizens of Russia, who refuse to recognize them, a special order has been issued arranging that permits for departure shall be issued by American officials on affidavits of birth and nationality without reference to the Russian Consuls or Embassy. In fact, 600 such permits have been issued Russians between April 17th and August 12th. The Department has no information as to the numbers who have actually left.

Undoubtedly there are serious difficulties in travel, which cannot be wholly overcome until shipping returns to normal. In regard to the alleged difficulties, which bearers of such permits have had with Consuls of other countries, the Department has no information, no jurisdiction, and can assume no responsibility.

There would appear to be no legal reason preventing you from chartering a ship under a recognized flag and taking on any passengers who had secured passports or permits of departure.

In the absence of regular diplomatic and commercial relations, the appearance of a ship in our ports, under an unknown flag and purporting to be under the registry of the Soviets, might well cause complications this Government is not inclined to risk. However the problem of the transportation of passengers of Russian origin, wishing to return home, could be easily solved by a chartered ship under a recognized flag.

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This Department is persuaded that no good will be accomplished by entering into controversy over the other inaccuracies in Mr. Tchicherin’s message to you. But for your information it is pointed out that no ‘masses’ of Russians have been arrested on any charge; that no individuals have been arrested for loyalty to the Russian Soviets. Such Russians as have been accused of violation of American law, have been tried without any discrimination on account of nationality.

The Department will shortly send you a detailed statement in regard to Kalamatiano,74 but wishes at this moment to emphasize that in so far as private citizens, not accused of crime, are concerned, this Government has done all in its power to facilitate their departure, in sharp distinction to the policy at present in force in Moscow.”

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