340.1115A/2247a: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Ambassador in the United Kingdom (Winant)38

3891. Department, having previously received agreement in principle from the British Government, September 16th proposed to the Italian Ambassador and the German Chargé d’Affaires that their Governments permit American citizens within their respective jurisdictions, including occupied territories, to receive exit permits and to leave those countries, in return for which the Government of the United States would issue exit permits to Italian and German citizens in the United States to return to Europe and would secure the cooperation of the British to give them safe conduct across the Atlantic, the quid pro quo of the British to be that all the British citizens now remaining in Finland or at present in Sweden be granted safe conducts by Germany, Italy concurring, to proceed through Germany and German-occupied territory to Lisbon.

For your information, the American citizens will probably include bona fide American citizens remaining in those territories who have already made application for exit permits. For your further information, the exact numbers of persons possibly involved in each category are not as yet known. It is estimated on basis of information received that there are possibly as many as 450 British, in the neighborhood of 1,000 Americans, more than a thousand Germans and possibly 1,500 Italians. It is the desire of the American Government to approach the matter by categories and try and arrange for a complete return, which, of course, would be impossible if too many conditions are imposed and too much bargaining is engaged in. The British have set the time limit of December 31 for the life of their safe conduct. No details have been entered into but the German and Italian Governments have been asked to do what the British Government has already done, and that is to agree in principle. After agreement in principle is arrived at, negotiations will proceed in Washington.

The Department will keep you advised and your comment and any information which may be of assistance will be appreciated. Until further progress is made by the Department, it is considered unwise to have conversations on the subject by its officers abroad. This is simply for your information, but it is desired that the information be confined for the present to the missions at London, Berlin and Rome.

  1. The same, on the same date, to the Ambassador in Italy (No. 954), with the request to repeat to Berlin.