The British Embassy to the Department of State
The United States Embassy in London has been in touch with the Foreign Office regarding the repatriation of the personnel of the European enemy missions in this country and in Latin America and of other enemy persons attached to these missions. It is understood that it is the intention of the United States Government that these individuals shall first be concentrated in the United States and then repatriated in a single ship which would proceed directly to Lisbon.
- For their part, the British Government will gladly cooperate with the United States Government in facilitating the execution of this plan to assemble these individuals in the United States and will therefore take such steps as are open to them to prevent any of the persons in question returning independently direct to Europe.
- As regards the subsequent return of the various individuals to Europe, the British authorities will not seek to prevent or interfere with the journey of bona fide members of the enemy diplomatic or consular missions. They consider however that the term “bona fide members of diplomatic or consular missions” should be strictly interpreted. Apart from other considerations, it is presumed that the United States authorities will wish to be able to secure the return from Europe of a certain number of their own nationals who are not members of American diplomatic or consular missions by exchanging them for a number of enemy nationals from the Western Hemisphere who are similarly neither diplomats nor consular officers. The more strictly the term “bona fide members of diplomatic or consular missions” is interpreted in respect of enemy nationals, the greater will be the residue of such nationals available for such an exchange. Experience has shown that the Germans will not reciprocate generous treatment in this respect. On the assumption that the United States Government will wish to acquire as strong a bargaining position as possible, it would therefore seem advisable that they should interpret the term “bona fide members of diplomatic or consular missions” as strictly as possible.
- In addition to bona fide members of diplomatic or consular missions, the British authorities are prepared to facilitate the return to Europe of other enemy nationals who, though not entitled to diplomatic immunity, may be attached to such missions, if good reasons exist for believing that their return would be to the common interest.
- In this last connexion the British Government feels sure that the United States Government will agree that it would not be to the common interest to permit the return to Europe of individuals such as trained technicians, reserve officers, pilots, submarine specialists, or [Page 309] espionage and sabotage agents, of whom the enemy are known to be in need at the present time. The British authorities are in fact not prepared to facilitate the return of such persons. That being so, and in view of the considerations advanced in paragraph 3 above, it is hoped that the United States Government when arranging for these enemy nationals to come to this country from the Latin American countries will not give any a priori guarantee that all of them will subsequently be able to continue their journey to Europe without interruption.
- In the case of those individuals whose return would not be in the common interest or who come within the categories to whom the British Government could not give a safe conduct, it is to be hoped that those Latin American countries which have broken off relations with the enemy would be prepared to intern them, or failing that to put them on board some neutral ship from which they could subsequently be removed by United States or British ships. Alternatively, if such individuals were expelled to the United States, the United States Government might be prepared to intern them. A particular case in point is that of one Konstantin von Massenbach, a former submarine commander, who has attached himself to the German diplomatic party from Venezuela, now on its way to the United States without having received a guarantee of safe conduct to Europe from the British authorities. Since the latter would be unable to give any such guarantee in respect of von Massenbach, it is hoped that the United States authorities will feel able to detain him in this country for the duration of the war.
- As regards those enemy nationals who are eventually assembled in this country, it is suggested that before any decisions are reached as to which of them are to be repatriated to Europe, discussions should be held between the United States security officers and the British security officers now stationed in this country.
- Finally it is hoped that the United States authorities will search all persons not possessing diplomatic immunity, together with their baggage, and that they will search the baggage of those possessing diplomatic immunity to ensure that they do not carry financial contraband.