The Minister in Finland (Albright) to the Acting Secretary of State

No. 63

Sir: I have the honor to refer to the Department’s instruction of September 1, 1933, to which reply has necessarily been deferred due to recent alteration in the administration of this Legation. I regret to report that the Finnish Foreign Office still maintains its previous position with respect to the phrasing of Article 1 of the proposed treaty with the United States relating to military service, holding that acceptance of this Article as phrased in the draft treaty appended to the Department’s instruction to this Legation of August 2, 1932, would be incompatible with existing Finnish law.

Mr. Bruno Kivikoski, Chief of the Juridical Division of the Finnish Foreign Office, who is charged by the Minister for Foreign Affairs with the conduct of the preliminary negotiations leading to the possible conclusion of a treaty between the United States and Finland relating to military service, does not believe that a solution may be found to the conflict between existing legislation in the United States and in Finland, respectively, which arises from any and all of the drafts of Article 1 hitherto proposed by either party. The position of the Foreign Office thus remains substantially that described in my predecessor’s despatch No. 881, dated January 3, 1933.7 It may be recalled that the Finnish Foreign Office suggested in its draft treaty, submitted as an enclosure to this Legation’s despatch No. 990, dated July 3, 1933, that the agreement follow more or less in nature a treaty upon this subject concluded between the United States and Norway, Article 1 failing to draw distinction between native born and naturalized citizens. Mr. Kivikoski points out that the President of Finland may, under the terms of Paragraph 46 of the Finnish Law of June 30, 1932, grant exemption from military service to any American citizens who are also considered to be Finnish citizens under the laws of this country and that, in practice, it would undoubtedly be his disposition to do so since the experience of several years has demonstrated that cases of dual nationality (as interpreted after Finnish law) involving liability of American citizens to military service in Finland are rare.

Mr. Kivikoski’s attention was invited to that portion of the Departmerit’s [Page 154]instruction of September 1, 1933, which referred to the conclusion by the United States of naturalization conventions of a nature similar to that proposed to Finland with a number of other European countries. Mr. Kivikoski replied that the Finnish Foreign Office, although aware that this was the case, was, nevertheless, of the opinion that existing Finnish Legislation precluded the possibility of concluding a treaty between the United States and Finland along the lines proposed by the Department. He added that the Foreign Office understands that conflict over the question of dual nationality has thus far defeated efforts to conclude treaties relating to military service between the United States and certain other countries, but that the absence of any convention bearing upon this subject undoubtedly worked a hardship upon native-born American citizens of Finnish parentage whom the Finnish Government is quite ready to exempt from all liability to military service in the event of their temporary return to Finland, while the absence of specific exemption under the form of treaty proposed by the Finnish Foreign Office of naturalized American citizens of Finnish birth would, it was felt, not be important in practice in view of the authority vested in the Finnish Chief Executive by law to grant exemption from military service in individual cases.

In a later conversation on this subject, Mr. Kivikoski expressed the readiness of the Foreign Office to accept the phraseology of Article 1 of the military service convention agreed upon early this year between the Governments of the United States and of Sweden,8 pointing out that the wording differs very little from that proposed by the Finnish Government.

As suggested in the Department’s instruction of September 1, 1933, (Page 2), I availed myself a few days ago of an opportunity informally to discuss this matter with the Honorable A. Hackzell, Finnish Foreign Minister. Mr. Hackzell expressed the hope that a satisfactory solution of the present conflict in views with respect to the contents of the treaty might be found. It is my impression that the familiarity of the Finnish Foreign Office with the form and content of military service conventions negotiated between the United States and certain other countries in this part of the world—notably Norway and Sweden—is a considerable factor in its reluctance to accept the drafts of Article 1 proposed by the Department.

Respectfully yours,

Edward Albright

[A convention between the United States and Finland regulating the military obligations of persons having dual nationality was signed January 27, 1939; for text, see 54 Stat., 1712; or Treaty Series No. 953.]

  1. Not printed.
  2. Signed January 31, 1933, p. 763.