The Chargé in the United Kingdom (Johnson) to the Secretary of State

No. 4023

Sir: Referring to this Mission’s telegram No. 2148 of October 24, 8 p.m.62 regarding contraband contained in parcels sent from the United States to Germany and the possible provision by the British authorities of specific data as to the names and addresses of the senders of such mail, I have the honor to enclose a memorandum63 provided the Embassy by the British Foreign Office regarding the character of such parcel post mail examined by the British Censor and the British Government’s attitude with respect to its seizure.

The Foreign Office, it will be noted, observes that a striking aspect of this traffic is the fact that it appears to be entirely impersonal; that the parcels contain an occasional note of good wishes, but that hardly a letter is to be found; and that it is evident that a very considerable pre-arranged traffic is taking place. It advances the view that the conclusion can hardly be avoided that a well established system exists in the United States for sending large quantities of contraband in small parcels to Germany as the easiest way of evading the British blockade. In support of its contention regarding the organized character of this traffic, the Foreign Office has provided the enclosed clipping from the New Yorker Staatszeitung und Herold of October 4, 1939.62

In the circumstances, the Foreign Office takes the view that while the British Government might not have objected to a limited number of parcels of conditional contraband being sent to individuals in Germany by their acquaintances in the United States, it is reluctant to allow the present traffic to continue in view of the evidence of organization, the presumption that the German Government is directly or indirectly privy to the scheme, and the further presumption that it may be taking steps to divert the goods to its own account, where it is used not for the relief of distress but for the prosecution of the war.

Respectfully yours,

Herschel V. Johnson
  1. Not printed.
  2. Dated November 23, not printed.
  3. Not printed.