362.116 M 82/31

The Acting Secretary of State to the Chargé in Germany (Robbins)

No. 3839

Sir: The Department has received your despatch No. 1015, of March 16, 1925,50 together with the enclosures thereto concerning the refusal of the local authorities in East Prussia to permit Mr. Carvel M. James, an American citizen, to remain in the province on the ground that his activities as a Mormon missionary disturb the peace.

It appears that the Prussian authorities base their action on the ground that Mr. James’ proselytizing was a source of disturbance in a number of families in Selbogen. It also appears that the authorities declined to give Mr. James a hearing and refused to accept the testimony of witnesses who were prepared to testify in Mr. James’ defense.

You advise the Department that in bringing this case to the Embassy’s attention, Mr. Nathaniel P. Davis, American Consul in Chargé at Berlin, stated that, though he felt that the provincial authorities were within their rights in refusing Mr. James permission to remain in East Prussia, it was felt nevertheless that if the latter’s statements were correct, that he had not been given an opportunity to defend himself or to produce witnesses in his defense, it might be considered advisable for the Embassy to make some representations to the Foreign Office in order that this case might not be quoted later as a precedent for similar action in the future. You request to be instructed in the matter.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . .

While this Government does not contest the right of the authorities of East Prussia to request an American citizen to leave the territory under their jurisdiction in case he proves himself a cause [Page 264] of serious disturbance, it is considered, however, that he should be given an opportunity to defend himself respecting charges brought against him and that a failure of the authorities to accord him a hearing constitutes an arbitrary exercise of the right of expulsion. This Government considers, moreover, that the reasons given by the local authorities for refusing to allow Mr. James to defend himself against the charges, namely that he could not have disproved them and that the witnesses produced by him would not be willing to testify against him, are not convincing and, in fact, are contradictory. If the report of this case as received by the East Prussian authorities is correct, they might, it would seem, have been able to obtain the testimony of witnesses to substantiate the charges and refute the defense set up by Mr. James and his supporters.

In bringing the foregoing considerations to the attention of the German Foreign Office, you will advise it that it is not sought to obtain a reversal of the decision in this case since it appears that Mr. James does not desire to return to East Prussia but that this Government has no doubt that the German Government will readily agree that the expulsion of American citizens without an opportunity to defend themselves against charges brought against them constitutes an arbitrary procedure. You will further advise the Foreign Office that this Government confidently hopes that the necessary steps will be taken by the German Government to insure American citizens in the future an opportunity to defend themselves before an impartial authority against charges which, if established, would warrant their expulsion from German territory under the appropriate German laws.

You are requested to transmit to the Consulate General at Berlin and the Consulate at Koenigsberg for their information copies of this instruction, which are enclosed.

I am [etc.]

Joseph C. Grew
  1. Not printed.