The Ambassador in Italy ( Phillips ) to the Secretary of State

No. 1716

Sir: Confirming my telegram No. 52 of January 22, 7 p.m.,15 I have the honor to transmit herewith a copy and translation of a Note dated January 13, 1940 (received by the Embassy January 20) from the Italian Minister for Foreign Affairs in reply to my communication to him of November 21, 1939, which I delivered pursuant to your instruction No. 547 of November 10, 1939, File No. 365D.1163.

As reported in my telegram No. 52, Count Ciano takes the position that the procedure of the Italian East African authorities in expropriating the hospital owned by the United Presbyterian Mission at Addis Ababa and in expelling the Mission’s representatives from Ethiopia was entirely in accordance with the legislation applicable in such matters.

The letter mentioned in the penultimate paragraph of Count Ciano’s Note was dated June 18, not January 18, 1937.16 In that letter the Minister, speaking of the future activities of foreign missions in the conquered territory, said “If the said missions, outside the educational field, intend to carry on work of a humanitarian and [Page 523] philanthropic character, any requests will in due course be examined, when the juridical question of recognition of the Empire has become an accomplished fact.” (Underlining supplied).

Respectfully yours,

William Phillips

The Italian Minister for Foreign Affairs ( Ciano ) to the American Ambassador ( Phillips )


Mr. Ambassador: I have the honor to refer to my letter No. 242139/120 of December 3, 193917 and to submit to Your Excellency the information given me by the Royal Ministry of Italian Africa regarding the expropriation of the hospital of the American United Presbyterian Church Mission in Addis Ababa and the expulsion of Dr. John A. Cremer and the Rev. Duncan C. Henry from Italian East Africa.

As regards the hospital at Addis Ababa, the competent Royal Authorities have advised that, for reasons of public utility, expropriation was ordered under Viceregal Decree No. 124 of July 8, 1939, and indemnification therefor established as 980,000 lire.

Following the protest presented by the aforesaid mission and in partial satisfaction thereof, the indemnification was raised to 1,370,000 lire—an amount set by a special and regularly constituted commission, which appraised the various real property of which the hospital is composed on an absolutely fair basis.

In the event that the aforesaid mission deems it cannot accept the above-mentioned indemnification for expropriation, it can resort to the usual legal procedure provided for in expropriation cases by the legislation of Italian East Africa, which is the same as Italian legislation.

With regard to the payment of the sum of 1,370,000 lire, the Governor General of Italian East Africa has advised that such payment could be made without further formality during the current month, but that it does not appear possible to make payment in American currency, in view of the regulations governing foreign exchange.

As regards the expulsion of the two above-mentioned American citizens from the territory of Italian East Africa, the competent Royal Authorities have pointed out that, independently of other motives, such expulsion is the result of a provision of general character, strictly [Page 524] applied to Italian nationals as well, prohibiting sojourn in Italian East Africa by anyone not engaged in some specific activity.

In this connection the competent Royal Authorities have stated that the liquidation of the Gore and Saio missions has also been completed.

The presence in Italian East Africa of the two individuals in question could not, moreover, be justified by humanitarian and philanthropic activities on their part: in this connection I refer to the letter I had the honor to send Your Excellency on January (sic) 18, 1937.

In any case I remain at your disposal for any further explanations and information you may desire.

I am, Mr. Ambassador,

Very respectfully yours,

  1. Not printed.
  2. See telegram No. 291, June 21, 1937, 1 p.m. from the Ambassador in Italy, Foreign Relations, 1937, vol. ii, p. 710.
  3. See last paragraph of despatch No. 1676, December 18, 1939, from the Ambassador in Italy, p. 522.