The Secretary of State to the Chargé in Norway ( Curtis )
32. Your 54, September 14, noon.74 Department is anxiously awaiting news as to the progress of Dr. Nansen’s negotiations regarding repatriation of Americans in Soviet Russia. If possible, arrange an interview with him as soon as possible and communicate to him the following:
“The Department very highly appreciates the devotion with which Dr. Nansen has attempted to secure from the Russian Soviets the necessary permits of departure for the American citizens there who are desirous of leaving and fully appreciates the difficulties which he has had to face. It should like a frank statement from him of his opinion of the chances of success in the present circumstances. In every communication received indirectly from the Soviets either through Dr. Nansen or through other channels, Tchitcherin has indicated that the condition precedent of success in [Page 683] such negotiations must be direct dealings between an American official and a representative of the Soviets. Does Dr. Nansen believe that this objection can be overcome? If he feels that the Soviets will stand on this position, the Department cannot ask him to continue negotiations which he considers hopeless.
If, however, Dr. Nansen believes that this obstacle can be overcome, the Department hopes that he will carry on the negotiations as rapidly as possible. Dr. Nansen can not be burdened with the legal technicalities involved in determining questions of citizenship. The Department suggests that he rely on his own judgment and use his good offices for all individuals who seem to be or whom he reasonably believes to be American citizens and that he arrange, if possible, for the release of such persons and their transportation across the border, where the American Red Cross will look after their physical welfare and the American Diplomatic and Consular Officers can study the legal aspects of their claims and arrange for their transport home. If peace treaty has been signed between Soviets and Finland, the Department would prefer that route as regular diplomatic relations have been established with Finland. However, if Dr. Nansen finds the Baltic Province route more practical, there is no doubt that the Esthonian and Latvian authorities would cooperate. As soon as Dr. Nansen indicates which route will be used the Department will place at the disposal of its representatives adequate funds to meet expenditures incurred by Dr. Nansen in this work.
The Department is forwarding by mail to Christiania the names of all persons in Russia known to be claiming American citizenship. It is suggested that Dr. Nansen might get fuller and more recent lists from the American Chargé in Helsingfors or from the American Commissioner in Riga.
The Department will be grateful to Dr. Nansen for a statement in regard to his plans and hopes.”
For your personal information the Department is especially desirous that Dr. Nansen should feel that his efforts have been appreciated and wishes to encourage him in his endeavors as long as he has reasonable hopes of success. If, however, he has no faith in the prospects of early success, the Department would like to be informed so that other plans may be worked out.
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