740.00115 European War 3939/145: Telegram

The Chargé in Germany (Kirk) to the Secretary of State

2093. Department’s 845, November 8, 7 p.m. In view of the protracted delay in obtaining responses from the British and French Governments to the Department’s proposal relating to the treatment of civilian enemy aliens in belligerent countries, I took the occasion to [Page 646] discuss the matter informally at the Foreign Office in the sense of the first paragraph of the Department’s telegram under reference and expressed the hope that the German authorities would not misunderstand the delay in obtaining the views of the other interested Governments. Note was taken on this statement.

I desire to point out, however, that this continued delay in endeavoring to reach some solution of the problem of civilian enemy aliens is of particular importance to the Embassy in connection with the matter of the relief of destitute British and French nationals in Germany.

This question has become more acute throughout Germany as personal funds are exhausted and as practically no private remittances have come through and will no doubt be accentuated by the assumption of British and French interests in Polish territory occupied by German forces. When the Embassy and Consulates in Germany undertook this assistance it was envisaged as a temporary and emergency measure which would presumably lapse within a short period either through the internment or release of civilians or through arrangements whereby enemy aliens unable to depart from Germany might receive private remittances from their families or friends. If relief to French and British nationals is to be indefinitely continued it would appear that a more comprehensive mechanism for this purpose must be established with additional personnel. If American officials are to carry on relief this Embassy and no doubt certain Consulates will inevitably require an expanded staff. The expense of this would, it is assumed, have to be borne by the British and French Governments and arrangements made regularly to receive relief allotments. An alternative plan might be to turn over relief to some organization such as the International Red Cross but this no doubt would require some time to establish throughout Germany and Poland.

In these circumstances the Department may desire to advise the British and French Governments that unless the principal belligerents agree in the near future to a reciprocal release of civilians a more comprehensive relief establishment must be set up by the Embassy. Furthermore, the longer the delay the more difficult it may be to obtain a general agreement for an exchange of civilians as the Embassy is in receipt of various complaints from both sides respecting the arrest and confinement of their civilians which in turn leads to retaliatory action. Efforts are being made in each case to minimize these incidents and wherever possible to obtain release of persons so confined in Germany in the spirit of the prospective engagements but such efforts will become increasingly difficult in the face of continued delay in obtaining replies to the Department’s proposal.