The Ambassador in Italy (Phillips) to the Secretary of State

No. 782

Sir: I have the honor to refer to the Department’s instruction No. 183 of September 15th, 1937 (File No. 365D.1163/99),5 concerning certain mission properties of the United Presbyterian Church of North America in Western Ethiopia which were occupied by the Italian military authorities in November 1936, shortly after the withdrawal of the missionary staff.

Immediately upon receipt of the Department’s instruction under reference, the Embassy informally approached the Italian Foreign [Page 712]Office in the matter, as requested, but unfortunately so far little has been accomplished. On September 27th, 1937, the Counselor of the Embassy, Mr. Reed, addressed an appropriate letter to Commendatore Grazzi, who, with the rank of Minister, is in charge of the direction of Overseas Affairs in the Foreign Office. Commendatore Grazzi replied that he had brought the matter to the attention of the Ministry of Italian Africa, but on November 12th, when Third Secretary McGregor called at the Overseas Division on other affairs, he learned that no word had been received on the subject. On the 22nd of December, Mr. Reed received a letter from Commendatore Grazzi stating that he was doing his best to expedite matters but that he had nothing new to report. On January 24th, 1938, Mr. Reed called on Commendatore Grazzi with a memorandum concerning cases still pending between the Embassy and the Foreign Office, which Signor Grazzi promised he would expedite. Finally, the Embassy has now received an Aide-Mémoire from the Italian Foreign Office dated January 28th, stating that

“With reference to the Memorandum of the Embassy of the United States of America dated January 24, and particularly to the question of the occupied property in Ethiopia belonging to the United Presbyterian Church of North America, the Royal Ministry of Foreign Affairs has the honor to state that this important question is now being studied by the competent Royal authorities.

As soon as the reply, which has already been repeatedly solicited, has been received from the Ministry of Italian Africa, this Ministry will immediately notify the Embassy of the United States.”

The Embassy will continue to press this question to the best of its ability.

Respectfully yours,

For the Ambassador:
Edward L. Reed
Counselor of Embassy