740.00115 European War 1939/267: Telegram

The Chargé in France (Murphy) to the Secretary of State

From Berlin:

Foreign Office advised of 37, February 12, 9 a.m.6 My 33, February 6, 5 p.m.6 There follows a summary of a German Foreign Office note dated January 26 but just received which is in reply to the French note of January 6th in respect to exchange of civilians:7

Beginning of Summary: Since hostilities began the German Government has constantly declared its willingness on the basis of reciprocity to permit civilian enemy aliens to depart and therefore accepted the American proposal of October 2 to this effect. For the same reason the German Government through the Swedish Government declared that it would assure reciprocity on the French proposals to permit women, children under 17, men over 65 years of age, and cripples and incurably sick persons regardless of age to depart. The French Government has modified its former statements by proposing (here follow the six points of the French note of January 6).

The German Government is unable to see any reason to justify a person-to-person exchange instead of a general exchange of males of 15 and 16 and men over 60 years of age. The total number of persons here involved is so small in proportion to the total population and the armed forces of each country that they are of no significance in the prosecution of the war. The German Government is therefore of the opinion that a general exchange should be agreed upon for these persons as well but would have no objection on this basis of reciprocity to giving assurances that male children returning home should not subsequently on reaching the age of military service be called to arms during the war.

The German Government regards the solution of this question as particularly urgent as the German Government upon inquiry informed the Swedish Legation in Paris that the French authorities do not grant assistance to the families of interned Germans or to the needy Germans in France and that before this question is reconsidered it is desired to await the development of the exchange proposals now pending. End of summary. (It was later stated orally at the Foreign Office that this statement had been drafted before the French note of January 7 [6?] on this point had been received.)

Begin Summary: The French Government has been informed that all enemy aliens not interned in Germany are assisted by the welfare authorities in the same manner as Germans.

This question should not, however, delay the general exchange of women, children and incurably sick persons and the German Government is prepared to carry out this exchange immediately upon receipt of the statement that the French Government will take the same measures. French nationals leaving Germany will receive the same benefits as those granted to British subjects and in this connection it is assumed that the French authorities will permit German nationals [Page 192]to take such funds as are necessary for their return home. Should the French Government be willing to make it possible for destitute Germans to travel as far as the German frontier the German authorities would grant the same benefits to destitute French nationals.

Respecting the return of Germans from overseas French possessions and mandated areas it appears expedient that the French Government should make proposals on this point as the German Government lacks the necessary information.

The question of a later understanding respecting the transfer of persons in question remains unaffected. End of Summary.

Text of German note with translation will be forwarded immediately by mail. Kirk.

  1. Not found in Department files.
  2. Not found in Department files.
  3. See telegram No. 48, January 10, 5 p.m., from the Ambassador in France, p. 184.