701.6511/1205a: Circular telegram

The Secretary of State to Diplomatic Representatives in the American Republics

The Department has received inquiries regarding the treatment being accorded in the United States to Italian diplomatic officers now within our jurisdiction.

The following is the text of a note addressed today by the Department to the Swiss Minister:

“Sir: I have the honor to request you acting in your capacity as representative at Washington of the Government protecting American interests in Italy and Italian-occupied territories to be kind enough [Page 288] to transmit to the former Italian Ambassador in Washington the information contained herein concerning the treatment by this Government of Italian diplomatic officers now within our jurisdiction. This information is also being communicated to the American Legation at Bern5 with instructions that the Legation request your Government to transmit the information to the Italian Foreign Office.

This Government will continue to accord to the personnel of the former Italian Embassy correct and liberal treatment in accordance with international law and the pertinent precedents. Every effort will be made to furnish them and members of their families with adequate protection and to insure their comfort as long as they remain within the jurisdiction of the United States. Furthermore, they will be accorded every reasonable facility for liquidating their personal affairs. They are being permitted to reside in their homes with their families and permitted entry to and exit from the Embassy without surveillance. While the Embassy itself and all members of the staff and their families are at all times being afforded adequate protection, no police officer will be stationed within the Embassy. The representative at Washington of the power protecing Italian interests in the United States has free access to the Embassy. The Embassy has telephone connection with the representative of the aforesaid power and with the Department of State. The Embassy is permitted to communicate freely with the Italian Foreign Office through the intermediary of the protecting power.

This Government is requesting the Swiss Government to propose to the Italian Government a plan for the repatriation of Italian diplomatic personnel in this country and members of their families and to exercise its good offices to the end that a mutually satisfactory arrangement may be made as rapidly as possible. The proposal of this Government is that the Italian official personnel and their families will proceed on an appropriate passenger vessel under safe conduct to Lisbon, there to be exchanged for the American diplomatic personnel from Italy; that there will be an exchange of passengers and baggage at Lisbon whence the vessel will return to the United States and that all expenses involved in this operation shall be divided among the governments concerned on the basis of the number of persons transported and the quality of accommodations assigned to them.”

If the Government to which you are accredited has broken relations with the Italian Government or should it do so in the future you may communicate the foregoing to the Foreign Office saying that it is a statement of the treatment being accorded in the United States to these persons. The proposal for exchange of official personnel referred to in the Department’s circular of December 13 will be sent you separately when it is formulated in greater detail.

  1. Telegram No. 320, December 18, 1941, not printed.