The Chargé in Greece (Reed) to the Secretary of State

No. 3232

Sir: Following the Legation’s despatch No. 3101 of June 8, 1939, concerning the obligation recently placed upon foreign residents in [Page 612] Greece to convert their earnings into drachmas, I have the honor to transmit herewith a copy and translation of a Note on this subject received from the Greek Foreign Office (No. 16127 dated July 5, 1939) and a copy of the Legation’s reply thereto (Note No. 169/69 of July 8, 1939).10

The Foreign Office stated that “the competent Hellenic authorities, in order to be in a position to examine the question benevolently, would find it valuable to know the concrete cases of American citizens affected by the provisions of Article 12 of the law” in question.

It seemed very undesirable, if not actually frustrative of the purpose of our original representations, that this question should thus be returned to the basis of an examination of individual cases, particularly since we had previously understood informally from the Ministry of Finance that individual exemptions might be allowed, anyway. Furthermore, the Legation did not seem to be in a position to make the detailed examination of the affairs of individual Americans which the compilation of such a list would have involved, nor indeed to undertake the responsibility for such a list, which could hardly have been entirely accurate and which would have been subject to constant change. Consequently, I believe that the Department will agree that in my reply I have correctly interpreted the spirit and intent—though I have not used the exact phraseology—of the Department’s telegraphic instruction No. 108 of June 5, 1939, in reiterating the opinion that a general exemption should be accorded.

There has as yet been no further communication on the subject from the Greek authorities. Meanwhile, although the provisions of Article 12 came into effect as of July 18th, I am advising American residents who inquire that they should not change their earnings into drachmas for the present, and that the Legation will be prepared to assist any individuals who may be approached by the Greek authorities.

I should add that the British Legation has not yet received instructions to take this matter up officially, and has so far limited its action to informal conversations with the Ministry of Finance, while the French Legation has taken it up in the form of an inquiry to the Foreign Office as to the intent and application of the law.

Respectfully yours,

Leslie E. Reed
  1. Neither printed.