300.11 General Program/209a

The Secretary of State to All American Diplomatic Officers and Certain Consular Officers in Europe and the Near East 1

Sirs: On September 19, 1938 the Department sent to certain Chiefs of Mission in Europe a strictly confidential memorandum2 outlining administrative steps the Department was prepared to take in the event of a European war, and containing instructions regarding parallel steps to be taken in the field. The passing of the crisis which was developing at that time rendered it unnecessary to take the action therein proposed.

Further study has been given to the matter and the Department’s emergency plans have been expanded and developed as outlined in the appended memorandum. This memorandum is sent you at this time for your strictly confidential information and guidance and that you may make your plans for immediate action along the lines indicated should the occasion arise. Suggestions for improvements in the plan will be welcomed.

The procedure indicated shall not be put into effect except upon the receipt of specific instructions from the Department.

The unnumbered circular instruction of September 19, 1938, to certain offices is hereby canceled.

Very truly yours,

For the Secretary of State:
G. S. Messersmith
[Page 575]

Memorandum by the Secretary of State

The following is for the strictly confidential information of certain Chiefs of Mission and Consular Officers and for repetition in their discretion to Consular Officers when and to whom it may be deemed applicable. Consultation regarding this matter should be confined to your immediate collaborators and every precaution must be taken to prevent its becoming known to any others, as that could result in the very confusion it is designed to avert.

Prerequisite for the efficient operation of an emergency plan without confusion or contradictory efforts as between different countries is uniformity of procedure and centralized control. For this reason the following proposals are developed around the central idea of devising in advance the machinery for meeting all foreseeable situations, but requiring that it shall not be put into operation anywhere without the advance approval of the Department. The Department must of course, rely to a very large extent on the advice of officers in the field as to when such approval should be given and will be prepared to take immediate action on such advice. The retention of such control in the Department does not, therefore, reflect any lack of confidence in the ability of field officers to judge the depth of any crisis that may develop, but is a measure of obvious administrative expediency.

It will be observed that to insure coordination and uniformity of action within countries, a large measure of control is centered in the mission and that the Department will look to it for recommendations as to action to be taken at any particular post within the country to which the mission is accredited.

As a further measure of coordination, the Legation at Bern is designated as clearing house for instructions and despatches as further specified in paragraph 40 below.

Retention of control within each country by the mission is a vital element in this plan. Missions will naturally make full use of the advice and assistance of representatives of other departments, but must make it clear to them that they are acting under orders of the Chief of Mission. This is particularly true with regard to the evacuation of the employees and families of attaches and to arrangements for the protection or evacuation of American citizens generally.

Any necessary interdepartmental arrangements will be made in Washington under the guidance of the Department of State.

[Page 576]

I. Office Organization and Personnel

1. In the event a general war should break out in Europe, it will be necessary on account of the already heavy pressure on the Department that there shall be created in the Department a division to handle questions of whereabouts, welfare, relief and transportation of American citizens in the war zone; protection of American property; and, as they arise, questions relating to war prisoners, representation of foreign interests, and the like. It is the Department’s belief that in our missions in the war zone and in consulates in a few cities other than the capitals where in the judgment of the Chief of Mission such action is desirable, similar sections should be established.

2. For handling relief, et cetera, of American citizens and protection of American property for the first emergency period, it may be necessary in a very few cases to have additional temporary quarters, and the Department will act promptly on any telegraphic requests for such authorization. The advantages in administration of conducting the work in present quarters so far as practicable are obvious and it would be of primary importance to avoid any appearance of the existence of two government establishments conducting this work with the regular establishment having appellate jurisdiction. The Chief of Mission or principal consular officer will be responsible for the conduct of the work, but a qualified Foreign Service officer should be placed in immediate charge of it with such clerical and other assistance as the circumstances at each post may require.

3. The organization set up shall function as a separate section of the mission or consular office of which it is a part and shall be responsible directly to the officer in charge in such manner as he shall direct, except that funds will be allotted to the mission or consulate as such to be accounted for by the regular accountable officer. Separate files should be maintained with cross references when applicable to the regular registration, passport and general files. An essential for speedy functioning without duplication and confusion will be a central card index, alphabetically arranged by names of individuals interviewed or assisted, on which will be recorded all pertinent data as to citizenship, passport, address, names and addresses of relatives or friends in the United States, funds expended, reference to all correspondence concerning that person, and final disposition of the case.

4. The name of every American citizen calling at or communicating with the office by mail, telegraph or telephone should be entered in the card index, even though his immediate business may have no connection with welfare or relief matters. This will prevent waste of time by the welfare section in endeavoring to reply to inquiries from the United States regarding the whereabouts of individuals with whom other sections of the office may be in contact.

[Page 577]

5. The experience of the Department in recent crises has demonstrated the importance of building a welfare section around such a central card index. Since all welfare and relief correspondence must be entered in the index it acts as a bottle neck. Therefore for large scale operations it may be necessary to divide the index into sections (as for instance A to L and M to Z, or by geographical areas) with one person in charge of and responsible for each section. The office should be so organized that all incoming and outgoing correspondence regarding welfare and relief cases passes the card index for notation. Cards should not be removed from the index, but if for any reason it becomes necessary to do so a dummy should be inserted in the proper place showing the name on the original card and indicating where that card may be found.

6. So far as possible such emergency sections should be staffed with personnel from the regular establishments whose normal activities are terminated or reduced by war conditions, for example invoice and visa clerks. However, volunteer American assistance on a dollar a year basis may be accepted to be replaced gradually by paid employees as development or prolongation of the emergency may dictate. Care should be taken that emergency employees do not have access to the regular work of the mission or consulate in which they may not appropriately participate.

7. When necessary to engage non-American personnel at a mission they should be carried on a separate consular pay roll.

8. Allotments for rent of quarters and furniture, local transportation, communication services, pay of employees, et cetera, can be made in response to telegraphic requests within the limit of funds available or to be made available. Local purchases of stationery and supplies from current allotments are authorized without prior reference to the Department.

II. Protection and Evacuation of Employees and Families

9. It is deemed desirable that principal officers in cities likely to be objects of attack from the ground or from the air keep in mind the possibility of having to evacuate their offices. They should, therefore, fix upon emergency locations outside the probable area of attack to which essential functions of the office could be transferred on short notice. It is not deemed necessary that premises actually be rented at this time or that definite commitments be entered into. It is desired, however, that officers ascertain where such emergency quarters could be obtained. If and when an officer concludes that the time has arrived to move he should telegraph the Department for authority, stating the terms of the lease, amount to be paid, address, telegraph and telephone connections available, et cetera. The Department will be prepared to act promply on such recommendations.

[Page 578]

10. Gas masks in sufficient quantity to supply all members of the staff and the families of American employees have been sent to a number of offices and arrangements are now being made to furnish them at certain other posts.

11. In this connection it should clearly be understood that the United States Government does not undertake to provide gas masks for general distribution to American citizens abroad. In those communities where the public is required by law to provide itself with masks it is expected that American residents will comply; and in those where the ownership of a mask is dictated by common prudence Americans may properly be expected to supply themselves. The Department understands that masks can be purchased at a reasonable price in many localities and that their sale is not restricted to citizens of the country. The Department therefore has confined itself to providing masks for Government employees only. It may be remarked in this connection that any other policy would be impracticable, both because of the cost and because stocks available from the Army are not unlimited.

12. The Department is prepared to supply or make special allotments for the purchase of emergency supplies for the protection of personnel and property, where this has not already been done, such as first aid kits, fire extinguishers, sand bags, flags, et cetera, and requisitions or requests for allotments should be submitted without delay. The Department cannot, however, for legal reasons, allot Government funds for structural alterations to rented premises designed to strengthen them against fire or explosion. It will consider such alterations to Government-owned buildings including the construction of bomb-proof shelters, as Chiefs of Mission may recommend, but for budgetary reasons it can give no assurance of immediate approval at this time.

13. When in the judgment of a Chief of Mission a situation has arisen rendering it desirable that women employees and the families of officers and employees of any office within his jurisdiction be evacuated to places of safety, the Department will be prepared, upon recommendation by the Chief of Mission, to authorize such travel expenses within the provisions of the Travel Regulations. While remaining at places of safety away from the regular posts of duty per diem in lieu of subsistence will be authorized at the rate of $6 for employees and wives of employees; $5 for children fourteen years of age and over (but under 21); and $3 for children under fourteen. Per diem allowances may be paid directly to the persons in respect of whom they are granted or, in the case of wives and children, to the husband and father as may be most convenient for all concerned. Such allowances will terminate on the date the recipients return to the post of duty or at such other time as the Department may direct.

[Page 579]

14. Separate drafts should be drawn and separate accounts rendered for such travel and per diem allowances, bearing reference to this paragraph and to the “Authorization Number” which will be furnished when authority for the travel is granted by the Department.

For administrative and budgetary reasons it is essential that such evacuation of families or employees shall not be ordered or approved by Chiefs of Mission or principal consular officers without the advance specific approval of the Department. Accounts for such travel performed without the Department’s approval will be disallowed.

15. Employees and families of representatives of other Departments may be evacuated under the same conditions applying to Department of State personnel, unless otherwise ordered at the time. The Department understands that only a few departments have appropriated funds available for such travel. To avoid discriminatory treatment, therefore, the Department will assume the cost involved for all, on a uniform basis and make the necessary adjustments with the various departments in Washington.

16. In lieu of evacuation to places of safety, the Department will, on recommendation of the Chief of Mission, consider transfers or temporary details to other offices—not in a danger zone—for women employees.

17. Evacuation at Government expense under the foregoing conditions should not be to the United States without specific prior authority from the Department; but may be to nearby neutral countries if the Chief of Mission so recommends. In that event, the Chief of Mission should first consult with the Chief of Mission in the country to which the evacuation is proposed, and those through which it might be necessary to pass in transit.

III. Relief, Protection and Evacuation of American Citizens

18. In response to Information Series No. 113 of August 31, 1936 (Strictly Confidential)3 most offices have submitted carefully prepared emergency programs for the protection and evacuation of American citizens. It is now recommended that these be better coordinated, and to that end all consulates should forward copies of their plans to the Supervising Consulate General or to the Mission and make such modifications as the Mission may suggest. Further more, Missions should exchange information between themselves as to their plans and coordinate them, to prevent, in case of an emergency, unwitting interference or confusion in executing them. Offices which have not prepared plans should do so without delay. Modifications in individual and collective plans should be reported to the Department.

[Page 580]

19. With regard to plans for evacuation to the United States, it will be realized, in fact the experience of September 1938 demonstrated, that sufficient steamship accommodations for a mass movement of passengers across the Atlantic cannot be expected to be immediately available. The Department, in cooperation with other government agencies, is taking all possible preliminary steps with a view to expanding shipping facilities on short notice in case of an emergency. Further and more detailed instruction in this regard will be issued at a later date. It will be inevitable, however, that the execution of such plans will take time, and in case of a sudden emergency the demand for accommodations will rise at first more rapidly than it can be met. Evacuation plans, therefore, should look to moving people from centers of danger to more sheltered or safe places where they could remain in relative security until ships should be available to transport them to the United States. To this end it would be well for each mission and consulate to survey available accommodations in hotels, boarding houses, private homes or even public institutions in readily accessible small towns and resorts at a safe distance from large centers of population, industrial areas and military concentrations. It is emphasized that such surveys, the development of emergency plans generally, and inter-mission consultations on the subject must be made discreetly and every precaution must be taken to prevent the fact that such steps are being taken from becoming public knowledge. The importance of keeping these matters confidential is obvious.

20. Funds will be made available to missions for expenditure by them and by consulates under their jurisdiction for the relief and evacuation of American citizens. Advances to individuals should in all cases be against promissory notes reading:

“For value received, I hereby promise to pay on demand to the Treasurer of the United States, Washington, D. C., the sum of $________ advanced to me or expended in my behalf by the American __________ (Ambassador or Consul or et cetera) at _________; this payment to be credited to the fund for the relief of American citizens in Europe.”

Notes will be sent to the Department with the beneficiary’s receipts.

21. Such loans are to be made only as a last resort. It is a basic principle that those Americans having accessible funds in the United States or elsewhere should not be granted relief from government funds. Furthermore, it is not intended that government money should be used to assist Americans who are in the employ of organizations in the United States or whose friends or families are in a position to supply them. If such persons are unable to communicate with the United States their names and American addresses and a statement of their needs may be telegraphed to the Department, which will [Page 581] endeavor to obtain financial assistance from their relatives, friends or employers. Telegrams of this nature may cover one or many individual cases and are properly chargeable to the Government. Messages and telegraphic remittances from the United States will be charged to interested party as should be subsequent messages sent through your office after contact has been established.

22. In the case of Americans who are obviously destitute advances may be made on the basis of notes, even though eventual collection may be problematical.

IV. Representation of Foreign Interests

23. It is to be expected that the United States will be asked to assume charge of the interests of countries at war. Such request should not be agreed to without the prior approval of the Department. When such approval has been granted a complete inventory of the property, archives, et cetera, taken over must be made and the Department must be informed of the exact date on which your responsibility commences (see Foreign Service Regulations, part 2, Section 453 and notes).

24. Where this Government assumes charge of the interests of foreign governments it is desired that our missions and consulates take over the premises occupied by the governments concerned and wherever practicable continue the employment of clerical and custodial employees. A qualified diplomatic or consular officer of our Government should be placed in charge and have responsibility under the Chief of Mission or principal consular officer for handling questions of representation.

25. You may take custody of any funds turned over by the office of which you are assuming charge to be expended and accounted for for rent of quarters, salaries of personnel and other purposes directly connected with representation of that country’s interests. If additional funds should be required you should telegraph the Department. It is expected that arrangements will be made with the foreign governments concerned to reimburse the United States for all expenditures in their behalf but in the beginning the Department will endeavor to finance such expenditures.

26. You may expend for the relief of nationals of the country whose interests you assume any funds turned over for that purpose by its departing representative in the manner stated by him in writing so far as that is for legitimate relief and not in violation of local law or regulation.

27. If in your judgment additional relief funds are required telegraph the Department but assume no obligations until authorized.

[Page 582]

28. Receipts and expenditures of funds turned over by representatives of foreign governments should be entered on the appropriate cash book form in the regular accounts under “Trust Funds”.

V. Accounts

29. In the event of war or the severance of normal international communications it will be impracticable for offices cut off from direct communication with the District Accounting and Disbursing Office to request cash advances from and render accounts through that office. All Chiefs of Mission and principal consular officers should therefore obtain and keep on hand an adequate supply of blank drafts and accounting forms to enable them if necessary to render their accounts directly to the Department. The requisite forms are:

Form No. 222   Account current
No. 1095   Summary Statement of Disbursements and Collections by Appropriation Limitations
No. 275   and
275A, Large Size, Payroll for Personal Services
No. 314   and
314A, Large Size, Pay voucher for Allowance for Living Quarters, Rent, Heat and Light
No. 332, 
333   and
334,  entitled “Disbursing Funds—Cash Record and Schedule”
“Collections (other than Trust Funds)
Record and Schedule” and “Trust Funds—Record and Schedule”
No. 90   Exchange voucher
No. 207   Fee Stamp Account
No. 101   and
101a, Record of Fees
Voucher forms Nos. 326, 326A, 286, 286a, 1034, 1034a, 1012d, et cetera
Other forms which have been prescribed for use in connection with the rendition of accounts which are required by the regulations such as form No. 250 Schedule of Telegrams Foreign Service, and which may or may not now be in use depending upon the needs of the particular office.

30. Officers requiring any of the foregoing forms should requisition them without delay, marking the requisition Special and forwarding it in an envelope addressed to the Division of Foreign Service Administration.

31. It will clearly be understood that no office will revert to the draft system without the prior approval of the Department. Recommendations for such approval should be submitted by telegraph by Chiefs of Mission. When approval is granted, the office will proceed in accordance with the following provisions of the Foreign Service [Page 583] Regulations, which have been approved and will be issued to the field as soon as they can be mimeographed and distributed:

Section V–54 Note 6 (b) provides:

“(b) In the event of warlike conditions, catastrophe, complete breakdown of mailing facilities, or other existing conditions which disrupt the mails to such an extent that it is impossible to obtain funds for disbursement from and render accounts to the district accounting and disbursing officer, the officer in charge may draw drafts to obtain funds necessary for the payment of authorized salaries, allowances, and expenses, rendering accounts therefor direct to the Department.

“Should such necessity arise and if it is impracticable to return the balance of the cash advance to the district accounting and disbursing officer, it shall be converted into dollars and forwarded to the Department immediately the change in procedure becomes necessary. The forwarding despatch shall contain sufficient data to identify the funds.

“Accounts for partial periods shall be closed out and entirely separate accounts rendered for all periods, monthly or fractional, during which recourse is, of necessity, had to the draft system. The final account for funds advanced by the district accounting and disbursing officer shall be sent to that officer if possible. If it is not possible to do so the final account shall be transmitted to the Department.

“The Department and the district accounting and disbursing office shall be informed immediately by telegraph in case any officer Ends it necessary to make the change in accounting procedure hereby outlined. In the event drafts are drawn for salaries and expenses, the accounting instructions governing the rendition of accounts outside of fiscal districts shall apply, and an extra copy of the account current shall be sent to the Department with the account in order that it may be forwarded to the district accounting and disbursing officer for his records.”

32. In case return to the draft system is authorized, the unexpended balances of all cash advances received from the district accounting and disbursing officer shall immediately be forwarded to the Department in the form of a separate bill of exchange for deposit in the Treasury.

33. All fees and other official collections which have been taken up in the accounts of the district accounting and disbursing officer and which have not been remitted to him, if any, shall likewise be forwarded to the Department in the form of a separate bill of exchange.

34. All fees and other collections which have not been accounted for to the district accounting and disbursing officer shall be taken up in the regular accounts of the office together with the collections subsequently made during the same accounting period while operating under the draft system and remitted at the close of such period.

35. Remittances may be made in the form of official drafts of the office or commercial bills of exchange. If remittances are made by drafts of consular or diplomatic officers the following procedure, [Page 584] which will be required by the new Foreign Service Regulations, should be followed:

All collections and other moneys which are required to be remitted for deposit into the Treasury shall, so far as possible, be used for disbursement by cashing therefrom the officer’s official drafts drawn on the Secretary of State for necessary funds. The transaction shall be supported by an exchange voucher (Form No. 92) prepared over the signature of the officer, showing that the draft was cashed from moneys on hand; the rate of exchange; the amounts in foreign and/or United States currency; and the date of the transaction. The bank’s selling rate for sight drafts on New York prevailing on the date of the transaction shall be used for converting such drafts to their equivalents in foreign currencies. When drafts are cashed for United States currency the transaction shall be made at par.
Moneys on hand not required for disbursement should be remitted by purchasing a commercial bill of exchange payable to the Treasurer of the United States which should be forwarded to the Department for deposit in the Treasury, due precaution being taken to issue separate drafts or to obtain separate bills of exchange for unexpended balances of cash advances, or collections, as explained above. In every case despatches forwarding remittances should show complete information regarding the transactions.

36. When funds are allotted by the Department for any of the purposes discussed above, it will be essential that expenditures therefrom be charged in your accounts to the appropriations indicated in the allotments.

37. When funds are allotted under an “Authorization Number” separate drafts should be drawn with the authorization number indicated in the margin and separate accounts covering expenditures therefrom should be submitted direct to the Department. It is particularly important that expenditures under an authorization number not appear in the regular accounts.

38. When instructions are received to draw separate drafts against deposits made by relatives or friends in the United States and to pay the proceeds to individuals, the drafts will indicate in the margin, the name of the beneficiary and the date of the Department’s instruction, and the beneficiary’s receipt should be taken on Form 1034 and the latter be submitted direct to the Department together with the exchange voucher. These items, as distinguished from authorization number drafts, will be shown on the appropriate cash book form submitted through the regular accounting channel.

39. Reference to accounting matters will also be found above in numbered paragraphs 3, 7, 8, 11, 12, 13, 18 and 26.

VI. General Administrative Provisions

40. To facilitate coordination of the activities of offices in different countries in meeting an emergency situation, and to insure rapid dissemination, [Page 585] circular telegraphic instructions from the Department regarding relief, protection of foreign interests, and other administrative matters of general application related to the emergency will be sent to the Legation at Bern for repetition to interested offices in Europe. Individual administrative instructions to particular offices which may be of general interest will be repeated to Bern; and similar telegrams to the Department of which missions in countries with which the sending office has no direct contact should be informed should likewise be repeated to Bern. Thus the Legation in Switzerland will be a clearing house for advice to be given to Americans, statements of policy, instructions for meeting unforeseen situations as they arise, et cetera.

41. Routine nonconfidential telegrams relating to welfare, whereabouts, and representation of foreign interests should be sent in clear language or in Gray code only when a material saving in cost is involved. The Gray code is not considered confidential, and any American or alien employees may encode and decode messages in it.

42. All such messages should begin with the word “Route” as identification for special routing and handling in the Department. The Department will use the same identifying word for messages to the field, to facilitate routing to the special divisions described above.

43. It is essential that expenses be kept to the minimum consistent with efficient service. Until the Congress has had an opportunity to make the special appropriations that undoubtedly will be required in the event of a major disturbance the funds available to the Department for executing the foregoing plans will be strictly limited.

44. For the same reason it will not be practicable to make allotments for unspecified emergency expenses to be incurred by officers in their discretion. The Department will endeavor to grant all approved specific requests without delay. The maximum availability of limited resources can only be assured by retaining close control in the Department and avoiding accumulation of unexpended balances in the hands of field officers.

45. In the interest of economy and clarity, reference in telegraphic correspondence to any feature of the above-described plans should be by paragraph number.

  1. Sent to the consular officers at Algiers, Algeria; Batavia, Netherlands Indies; Beirut, Syria; Danzig; Gibraltar; Hong Kong; Jerusalem, Palestine; Malta; Shanghai, China; Singapore, Straits Settlements; Tallinn, Estonia; and Tunis, Tunisia.
  2. Not printed.
  3. Not printed.