740.00115 European War 1939/425a: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Ambassador in the United Kingdom (Kennedy)

1446. New York Times on June 20 carried an article to the effect that British Government intends to remove German prisoners of war and civilian internees from Great Britain to Canada and quoted Prime Minister Mackenzie King as supporting the proposal.

In this connection Department recalls that British Foreign Office note of May 10 (your telegram 1170, May 11, noon31) mentioned the “great surprise” with which the British Government learned of the intention of the German Government to send from Denmark to Germany for internment British subjects of military age who were in Denmark at the time of the German invasion. In the same note the British Government added that it could not but feel that the German authorities were thus proposing to act with a harshness toward British subjects in Denmark that was totally out of keeping with the consideration which it was stated the British Government have shown to German civilians in their hands. The British Government’s note of May 10 was, in accordance with its request, duly communicated to the German Government.

In bringing the foregoing circumstances to the attention of the British Foreign Office, you may add that if the proposal mentioned [Page 204]by the New York Times is put into effect it may lead the German Government to retaliate and perhaps even to resort to reprisals against British nationals in Germany which might have far-reaching and distressing consequences for many British nationals, and might well prejudice this Government’s ability to protect the British interests entrusted to its care.

It is, of course, possible that the British Government has no intention of putting such a plan into execution. However, if such a move is in prospect, the Department hopes that serious thought will be given to the foregoing considerations.

  1. Not printed. The Department of State acted as a medium of transmission between the British and German Governments regarding British subjects in Denmark. (740.00115 European War 1939/353)