Memorandum of Telephone Conversation, by the Adviser on Political Relations (Duggan)

I telephoned the Chilean Ambassador13 and spoke with him over the telephone about his Government’s project for a joint declaration on the humanization of war since the Ambassador was leaving tonight for New York and wanted to send a telegram prior to his departure.

I told the Ambassador that this Government thoroughly applauded the kind motives which prompted the Chilean Government. I recalled that on a number of occasions, going back as far as the Spanish Civil war and continuing on through the present war, this Government had made earnest pleas to the belligerents to observe the rules of war as laid down in a number of international conventions. Appeals based purely on humanitarian considerations and not on any treaty commitments had also been made. When his Government informed this Government of the representations which it had made to Germany regarding the application of the death penalty to French hostages this Government had sent a note, through its Embassy in Santiago, expressing its support of the position taken by the Government of Chile. It was evident, therefore, that this Government was in full sympathy with what the Government of Chile was desiring to attain.

I told the Ambassador that it was the Department’s considered view, however, that this Government could not, unfortunately, associate [Page 44] itself with the other American Governments in an appeal to Germany for the humanization of war. Germany was sinking American merchant and war ships without notice and in total disregard of international law. Previous appeals to Germany to change its ways had been utterly unavailing. It was, therefore, not to be expected that Germany would give ear to an appeal of the American countries in which the United States joined. Moreover, whatever small chance the joint declaration might have would probably be jeopardized were the United States to be one of the signatories.

The Ambassador stated that he understood fully the position of the United States; that as a matter of fact he had anticipated some such reply. He went on to say that he, personally, thought that a joint declaration of this character would be an expression of pious hope since Germany would never give heed to the views expressed by the countries of this hemisphere.

  1. Rodolfo Michels.