701.6211/1635: Telegram

The Minister in Switzerland (Harrison) to the Secretary of State

1236. American interests—Germany. Exchange personnel, Legation’s 1115, March 19.57 Swiss Foreign Office note March 25 communicates following note verbale dated March 21 addressed by German Foreign Office to Swiss Minister, Berlin.

“The Foreign Office has the honor to inform the Swiss Legation, Division of Foreign Interests, as follows in answer to the latter’s notes verbales dated February 20, No. 263, February 25, No. 294 February 27, No. USA 04 H10NR of March 6 without number and March 6, No. 370 regarding the extensions and changes of the proposal of the Government of the United States for carrying out the exchange of the diplomats, consuls and other persons of both countries:

1. In order to expedite the exchange of the German diplomatic groups in those countries of the American continent which have declared war on Germany or have broken off diplomatic relations with the corresponding groups of those countries in German territory, the German Government agrees that the German groups from Bolivia, Peru and Ecuador should be brought to North America and join the exchange group at White Sulphur Springs for transportation together to Lisbon. The German Government, however, agrees to the journey home of the German groups of the above mentioned three countries via North America upon condition that at least 14 days before the departure of the ship selected for the transportation of these groups to North America, the following details about the ship [Page 340] and the route it will travel are to be transmitted: (a) name of the ship, (b) nationality of the ship, (c) owners, (d) home port, (e) characteristics of the ship (exact description), (f) speed of the ship, (g) route of the ship, (h) exact details of times of arrival and departure of the ship at the ports to be touched.

On the sides of the ship and on the upper deck the flag of the country of registry as well as the name of the ship and the word ‘diplomat’ are to be visibly painted. The ship during the night is to travel fully lighted whereby the national nag painted on the sides and the upper deck as well as the name should be sufficiently and clearly illuminated.

The German Government after being informed of the above mentioned details will inform its allies accordingly in order that they in turn may ensure the unmolested passage of the ship to the United States.

Likewise the German Government after the receipt of these details will give the necessary instructions for departure to the German missions in Bolivia, Peru and Ecuador.

2. The German Government notes that in the exchange ship proceeding from the United States to Lisbon the German groups from United States, Mexico, Honduras, Guatemala, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Panama, Cuba, Haiti, Dominican Republic, Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Surinam will be included and are to be sent to Lisbon for carrying out the exchange.

The German Government expresses the expectation that as soon as possible an official list of the members of the above mentioned groups will be supplied to it.

The Foreign Office in turn will make every effort to give the Swiss Legation as soon as possible a complete official list of the persons entering into consideration for the exchange.

3. The German Government has instructed the German missions in Paraguay and Uruguay to proceed as soon as possible to Rio de Janeiro in order to start the journey home with the German group from Brazil on the ship which the Brazilian Government expects to charter. The German group in Brazil has been instructed to wait until the complete arrival of the above mentioned groups.

4. The German Government is ready to permit as has already been stated in the note verbale of February 26 protocol A2798 on the basis of reciprocity the members of all American exchange groups in addition to the baggage which they have already brought with them to their present stopping place, also to take with them their entire household effects with the exception of furniture. The Foreign Office would appreciate receiving information from the Government of the United States as well as from the other American Governments entering into consideration whether reciprocity is accorded.

5. The German Government in principle agrees to the chartering of the Swedish ship Drottningholm for the transportation of the German groups from the United States to Lisbon. It should be pointed out in this connection, however, that the ship Drottningholm for the transportation of so large a group of persons is in no way adequate. The German Government would like to carry out the exchange as soon as possible and is anxious that the German exchange groups proceed on a single voyage from the United States of America to Libson. As the inclusion of all German as well as other exchange groups will not be [Page 341] possible on the steamer Drottningholm the German Government suggests that a second ship for the journey from North America be chartered so that the two ships can cross the Atlantic at the same time.

Regarding the necessary technical details for the preparation of the Drottningholm for the journey from Göteborg to the United States the Foreign Office will communicate with the Swedish Legation separately.

6. The German Government considers the exchange from and with all countries of the American continents as before as one operation even if it is carried out in two sections via North America and Brazil for the success of which all the countries at war carry the responsibility. The Foreign Office therefore requests that the assurance of a free passage for the ships crossing the Atlantic from North America and also from Brazil includes the freedom from being held up and searched by all countries at war. The German, Armed Forces will be instructed accordingly that the ships are to be allowed to pass on their journeys unmolested. This will be done in addition to the condition that the ships are unarmed and do not travel in convoy under the conditions already in part stated and now given in detail as follows:

information about the name (including the former names if any), appearance, size, tonnage, home port, owners, speed of the ships, times of departure and arrival in the different ports, as well as the route of the ships, must be communicated to the German Government at least 10 days before the start of the journey,
the ships must have painted clearly visible on both sides the name of the ship as well as the name of the country of registry and a picture of the flag. Similarly the fore and aft deck must be painted with a picture of the flag. Finally the word ‘diplomat’ must be painted on both sides of the ship,
the ships must travel at night fully lighted and especially the signs specified under (b) must be clearly and sufficiently lighted by night,
the ships must not touch the zone of operations around the British Isles and Ireland [Iceland?] declared by Germany.

7. The Foreign Office on the basis of its notes verbales of January 12, Prot A 24945/41 and of February 26, Prot A 2798/42, as well as the present note, and in view of the changes and extensions made by this note in regard to the carrying out of the complete exchange of the German groups from the countries of the American continent, and the corresponding groups of these countries in German territory, requests the Swiss Legation to ascertain and report whether a definite agreement now exists.”

In forwarding copy note Minister reports as follows to Swiss Foreign Office:

“Following my explanations, German Government declared it is ready to permit transportation to United States official, German groups in Bolivia, Peru and Ecuador, under certain conditions.

I would be obliged if you for your part would intervene with American Government to obtain urgently necessary details assure safety of vessel.

[Page 342]

I take the occasion to repeat what I have already said by telephone that it is very desirable South America Republics abstain from intervening separately in this matter as did Peruvian Government (see Legation’s 1174, March 23, and Department’s reply 760, same date).58

Regarding other points of the note I call attention to fact that agreement not yet reached regarding persons to be included in group for repatriation. In its note February 26 (see Legation’s 891, March 5) German Foreign Office proposed under numbered paragraph 3 that not only diplomatic and consular personnel and other officials, as well as their families, employees, and household servants, but also accredited press representatives, including radio announcers, press photographers, representatives of film companies, and members Chambers Commerce and their families should be included in exchange. Although press representatives, radio announcers, and press photographers were already included in proposal transmitted by me December 22, (presumably Department’s 338, December 19) American Government has not yet made statement on subject inclusion representatives film companies and members Chambers Commerce. In its note of March 21, Foreign Office asked if definite agreement exists (see numbered paragraph 7).

On other hand, I am of opinion that question of non-official persons not yet sufficiently clarified. In its note of February 26 (see Legation’s 891, March 5) German Government expressed hope that German nationals without official character arriving in United States coming from various republics of Central America, Venezuela and Colombia, as well as their families, should be included in groups for repatriation.

In principle Department of State seems to be in agreement (reference here made to communications contained Department’s 485, February 19,59 and 542, February 2559a), nevertheless this agreement in principle not yet reached point where non-official persons to be exchanged can be designated.

Finally, question baggage not yet settled. In its note 1 A 242, January 18 (see Department’s 111, January 1560) American Legation, Bern, requested transmission communication on this subject to German authorities. Communication made to German Foreign Office by note February 12, German proposition on this subject contained in note German Foreign Office February 26 (see Legation’s 891, March 5) and goes further than American proposal as it provides under condition of reciprocity authorization for all members of group to be repatriated without reservation as to available space on ship, to take their household effects aside from effects which they already have with them at their present residence, with sole exception of furniture. By your telegram of March 5 (see Department’s 588, March 3) you advised that members of groups from Bolivia, Peru, and Ecuador to be repatriated via United States, can only take their personal effects.

It is advisable invite attention American Legation to these various points on which agreement still necessary in order avoid new difficulties at last moment.”

  1. See telegram No. 154, March 21, to the Ambassador in Spain, p. 336.
  2. Neither printed.
  3. See footnote 24, p. 312.
  4. See footnote 27, p. 315.
  5. Not printed.