740.00115 European War 1939/55: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Ambassador in France (Bullitt)

1272. Department’s 1107, September 29, 5 p.m.

There is repeated for your information telegram No. 1727, October 16, 5 p.m. from Berlin.

“Following is translation of memorandum dated October 14 received from Foreign Office in reply to representations made by Embassy on the basis of Department’s instruction under reference.

The German Government has noted with particular interest the contents of the aide-mémoire concerning the treatment in belligerent countries of civil persons of enemy nationality which was delivered by the Chargé d’Affaires of the United States of America [Page 643] on October 2 last. It fully shares the point of view set out in the aide-mémoire and thanks the Government of the United States of America for its efforts to alleviate the lot of enemy aliens in belligerent states by opening up to them the possibility of repatriation insofar as they may desire it. The German Government is for its part prepared on condition of reciprocity, to agree to the proposals to this end made in the aide-mémoire. It suggests, however, that the repatriation of many males of enemy nationality should be made dependent not on individual declarations of such persons but that the interested states should reciprocally assume the obligation not to call these persons to arms.

In this connection, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs reminds the Embassy of the United States of America, in relation to its memorandum of September 11 last concerning British civilians, that it was stated in a memorandum of the same day—R, 21604—that the German Government agreed on condition of reciprocity to permit in principle the departure from Germany of British civilians. The Foreign Office went on to say that this was on the assumption that free departure should also be made possible for those German nationals sojourning in British India, the British colonies and protectorates, as well as in mandated territories, and that German nationals should not be detained if they returned to Germany from enemy territory aboard neutral ships. As soon as the German Government should receive assent in the sense, it would permit British subjects to leave Germany. Up to the present the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has received no reply to this.

Furthermore the Ministry of Foreign Affairs informed the International Committee of the Bed Cross on September 28th last as follows:

‘On Germany’s part enemy civilians who desire to return to their country will in principle not be prevented from doing so in case their home country accords reciprocity. This applies under the same conditions also for civil persons subject to military service. It would be especially welcome on Germany’s part if German civilians who are interned in the tropics might be able to return home if they so desire. There is also no objection to entering into a mutual engagement that repatriated persons who are liable to military service will not be used for military purposes.’

The Foreign Office looks forward to a further communication on the part of the Embassy of the United States of America concerning the attitude of the governments of the other belligerent states.

In connection with the foregoing a Foreign Office official has stated orally and informally that while the German Government would prefer that enemy aliens be released on the parole of their respective governments that they would not be given military employment including administrative work in military offices but excluding hospital work, the German Government would not insist upon this point, and consequently would consider release on individual parole only rather than jeopardize the entire proposal relating to mutual release and repatriation of interned persons. These considerations, the Foreign Office official added, had been submitted to the International Red Cross.

The memorandum from the German Foreign Office of September 11—R 21,604—which is mentioned in the second paragraph of the [Page 644] memorandum quoted above was transmitted to the American Embassy in London via Brussels by telegraph, triple priority, No. 19, September 11, 9 p.m. for the information of British Foreign Office and to be repeated to the Department.

This message not repeated to American Embassy London.”

You are requested to bring this matter promptly to the attention of the appropriate authorities of the Foreign Office, leaving with them a memorandum giving the text of the note from the German Government of October 14, and to renew the expression of the hope of the United States Government that a means may be found for accomplishing the purpose contained in its suggestion.

Please air mail code text to London as Department’s No. 1248 with reference to London Embassy’s No. 1115, September 29, 6 p.m.64

  1. See footnote 62, p. 641.