740.00115 European War 1939/441: Telegram

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

2063. Your 1447, 27th and my 1882, June 28, 11 p.m. Foreign Office note of July 8 after referring to Phillips’ observations states: [Page 207]

  • “3. Lord Halifax is much obliged to the United States Ambassador at Rome for the friendly interest which he has shown in this question. He would be grateful if he could be informed that in sending Italian internees (no prisoners of war are in question) to Canada, His Majesty’s Government are not acting in any way contrary to the spirit of the Prisoners of War Convention which it is their intention to observe. Not only in the case of prisoners of war but also, in general, in the case of interned civilians, still less are they acting with hardness towards the Italian internees. The climate of Canada is good, there is an abundance of food, the internees will be, as was pointed out in Lord Halifax’s note to Senhor Moniz de Aragao, outside the area of hostilities, and Canada is a party to the Prisoners of War Convention and is prepared to give effect to its provisions not only in the case of prisoners of war but also in general, in the case of interned civilians. Every effort will be made to ensure that these men are not exposed to any unnecessary risk on the voyage but of course His Majesty’s Government in the United Kingdom cannot accept responsibility if the lives of these men are endangered by the armed forces of the enemy failing to comply with the rules of warfare which oblige belligerents to ensure the safety of the passengers and crew of any merchant ships sunk. To resort to reprisals would, therefore, be an entirely unjustifiable act on the part of the Italian Government. The names of the Italian civilians sent to Canada will be communicated to the Italian Government as soon as possible and facilities will no doubt be given by His Majesty’s Government in Canada to the Japanese Legation or Consuls in Canada to visit the internment camp on the arrival of the internees so that they can satisfy themselves as to their treatment.
  • “4. Lord Halifax much regrets to learn that the United States Embassy at Rome is greatly handicapped in its efforts to protect British subjects because of unfavourable reports reaching the Italian Government concerning the treatment of Italian subjects in England. All possible consideration has been shown to the Italians having regard to the circumstances in which their internment has been found necessary.
  • “5. His Majesty’s Government hope that it will be possible to make arrangements for the return to Italy of a large number of Italian subjects though, of course, they reserve to themselves the right to retain in this country any person on grounds of national security.”

Repeated to Rome.