391.1163 Lutheran Orient Mission/120

The Chargé in Iran ( Merriam ) to the Secretary of State

No. 835

Sir: I have the honor to refer to my despatch No. 829 of June 18, 1936,27 regarding the property of the American Lutheran Mission at Mehabad (Saujbulak), and to inform the Department that Messrs. Henry and Clarence Mueller28 called at the Legation on June 27, 1936, to discuss the present state of affairs.

It appears that no word has come from the side of the Government in regard to the purchase of the property. Mr. Henry Mueller had consulted an attorney, Mr. Javad Mahin, an alumnus of the American High School (now Alborz College at Teheran), who apparently informed Mr. Mueller that he need not expect any difficulty over the title to the property from the Iranian Government, which would doubtless accept a statement from the American Legation to the effect that the Lutheran Mission had owned the property at Saujbulak for a certain number of years. The Government, Mr. Mahin thought, would place great importance on the circumstance that despite any technical doubts about the title which might exist, the Mission had consistently been in possession of the property as a Mission. Mr. Mahin had emphasized, however, that it was necessary to have someone pushing the matter through the Government, and he suggested that the Legation might do this, particularly if a written statement could be obtained from the Government that it agreed in principle to buy the property, and the missionaries could then leave Iran.

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The Messrs. Mueller were informed that the Legation could not issue any statement of the kind he described if such should be desired by the Iranian Government. To the suggestion that it would probably be sufficient if the Consulate furnished a statement, it was replied that the Consulate would doubtless take a similar position. It was pointed out that neither the Legation nor the Consulate could certify to anything that was not within their direct knowledge, and that as regards the Saujbulak property they would have to take the word of the missionaries, which could equally well be given to the Government directly. If the Government required evidence of use and ownership, this could be furnished by Government officials at Saujbulak and by friends of the Mission residing there.

The Messrs. Mueller were also informed that the Legation would be quite unable to handle the purchase of the Mission property by the Government. This was a private matter between the Lutheran Mission on one side and the Government on the other, and the Legation could not enter into the affair unless injustice were done. It was emphasized to them once more that so far as the Legation was aware, the Government was under no obligation whatever to purchase the property, and could hardly be expected to commit itself in advance in this respect. I gave it as my personal opinion that it would be best for them to employ reliable legal counsel and to remain in Teheran until the matter should be settled, and that the results probably would not be satisfactory if they should leave the country and leave the affairs of the Mission in the hands of an attorney.

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Respectfully yours,

Gordon P. Merriam
  1. Not printed.
  2. Assistant to the Reverend Henry Mueller.