740.00115 European War 1939/151: Telegram

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

973. Reference London’s 2454, November 25, 1 p.m. to Department containing text of British note of November 24 which Kennedy has been instructed to repeat to you relative to treatment of civilian enemy aliens.

I) Please hand copy of British note of November 24 to German authorities.

II) Please make oral statement to and leave memorandum with German authorities embodying the following considerations:

A careful reading of the memorandum of the German Government of October 14 and of the British note of November 24 justifies the hope that the conception and policy of the two Governments as to treatment of civilian enemy aliens are so sympathetically responsive to the proposal that there may well be agreement.

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This consideration leads the Government of the United States to the suggestion that certain principles, common to the two Governments, might be formulated as the basis for complete accord.

There shall be no reprisal against civilian enemy aliens for acts for which they have no personal responsibility. This obligation represents the crux of the entire matter. As pointed out in the original memorandum on this subject, a commitment not to use reprisals has been undertaken in respect to prisoners of war under the Geneva Convention and the Government of the United States feels that there is every reason in the name of humanity and civilization for extending such an obligation to civilian enemy aliens as well.
There shall be no mass internment of civilian enemy aliens.
Any internment shall be made only after careful investigation by responsible authority of the individual case, with the right of any person already interned to present his case for such investigation. If possible machinery for appeal is to be established.
In normal practice a civilian enemy alien if he so desires may leave the country where he is residing, having requested and obtained a permit from the responsible authorities.
There shall be humane treatment and every proper consideration for the mental and physical health of persons in internment camps. There shall be freedom of inspection of such camps by the agents of the protecting power.

III) The Government of the United States is gratified by the wholesome response of the German Government and of the British Government to approximate agreement on these humanitarian principles intended to avoid unnecessary suffering to civilian enemies and earnestly hopes that with such measure of accord an agreement may be consummated.

IV) This Government is bringing the British note to the attention of the French Government in the hope that the latter may be induced to extend its agreement to categories of civilians in addition to those mentioned in its note of November 12. (Note mentioned Department’s 936, November 22, 6 p.m.70 should be dated November 12.)

Repeat to Paris and London.

  1. Telegram No. 936 not printed.