125.733/38: Telegram

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

582. Department’s 193, May 25, 2 p.m. Upon the receipt of the Department’s telegram under reference I presented a note to the Chief of Protocol at the Foreign Office in accordance with the instructions contained in the first paragraph of the telegram in question and at the same time made the following oral statement: [Page 459]

“The submission of the formal application for an exequatur for the Consul General in Prague does not indicate a change in the position of the American Government with regard to Czechoslovakia as already stated.”

The Chief of Protocol took note of this statement but gave no indication of any dissatisfaction therewith. I also asked to be informed if an exequatur were required for Mr. Kennan and was told by the Chief of Protocol that although he believed such application would not be necessary he would notify me later on that point. He also said that he assumed that the prevailing consular rights and privileges would be applied to consular establishments in Prague but that he would notify me later on that point also.

As I had received no further word from the Chief of Protocol I asked this morning for an appointment with him in order to inquire as to whether subordinate consular officers at Prague require exequaturs in order that I might be in a position to inform the Department in the matter of the exequaturs for Kennan as well as for Strong (see Department’s 236, June 20, 6 p.m.4) but before the appointment with the Chief of Protocol was made I received a note verbale from the Foreign Office dated June 30 of which the following is a translation:

“The Foreign Office has the honor to inform the Embassy of the United States of America as follows:

In reply to the notes verbales of May 26 and June 19, 1939, number 408 and number 441, in which it was apprised of the intention of the American Government to appoint a Consul General in Prague and application was made for the exequatur for Mr. Irving N. Linnell whose certificate of appointment was transmitted: on delivering the first note verbale number 408 of May 26, 1939, the Chargé d’Affaires ad interim of the United States of America Mr. Kirk stated expressly that there was no intimation in this note of any form of recognition by his Government of the state of affairs created by the establishment of the protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia. It was to be regarded as a purely technical measure.

In the opinion of the German Government the granting of the exequatur to a foreign consul for a given district is a formal act of sovereignty over that district. When one government addresses to another government a request that such an exequatur be granted, it must recognize that that other government is entitled to sovereignty over the area in question. It is an evident self-contradiction to ask a government to perform an act in exercise of its sovereignty and at the same time to contest the right of that government to exercise such sovereignty.

Since the request of the American Government for the granting of the exequatur involves this contradiction, the Foreign Office regrets that it cannot comply with it.

Berlin, June 30, 1939.”

[Page 460]

In view of the contents of this note I have canceled my request for an interview at the Foreign Office pending receipt of further instructions from the Department.

I desire to point out that the outline of the oral statement ascribed to me in paragraph 2 of the above note is not in conformity with the statement actually made by me which as quoted above was solely a paraphrase of the Department’s instruction.

  1. Not printed.