The Department of State to the British Embassy


The Department of State acknowledges the receipt of the British Embassy’s aide-mémoire of March 9, 1942 regarding the exchange of diplomatic, consular and other personnel between the American Republics and the Axis Powers in Europe.

The United States Government is pleased to note that the British Government will be glad to facilitate by the issuance of navicerts any arrangements made by or with the approval of the United States for the exchange of diplomatic, consular, and other official personnel of the American Republics and the Axis Powers in Europe.

With respect to the repatriation of non-official Axis nationals susceptible of internment in the United States, this Government shares the opinion of the British Government that a careful examination should be made in the case of individuals possessing special abilities which could manifestly be used in furthering the enemy’s war effort. Regarding all other Axis non-officials susceptible of internment in the United States, this Government believes that reciprocal repatriation would be preferable to internment.

The United States Government has noted with appreciation that the British Government is fully aware of the other factors which must be considered in connection with the repatriation of Axis non-officials from the other American Republics. Of particular importance in this regard are the wishes of the other American Republics and the potentialities for danger inherent in the continued freedom in those Republics of unscrupulous Axis agents. In order to meet this situation, the United States Government placed its facilities at the disposal of all American Republics which desired to rid themselves of Axis nationals. In a number of instances the Government of the United States felt that it was preferable to undertake obligations to repatriate the Axis personnel in question rather than to leave them at liberty in their chosen fields of activity in the Western Hemisphere, and it is the considered opinion of this Government that it could not divest itself of those obligations to certain other American Republics without seriously damaging the cause of the United Nations.

The Governments of Brazil and Uruguay expressed the desire to conduct their own exchanges of personnel with the Axis Powers in Europe. The Government of the United States, respectful of the sovereign rights of the Brazilian and Uruguayan Governments, and mindful of the friendly disposition of these non-belligerent Governments toward the common cause, has assured the Governments of Brazil and Uruguay that it will grant safe-conducts for their exchange vessels, thus leaving to those Governments that complete freedom of [Page 344] action which they desire in determining the persons to be placed aboard their vessels and in prescribing the regulations to be enforced regarding the search of baggage, financial matters, and other such details.

It is earnestly hoped that the British Government will concur in the considered judgment of the United States Government that the contribution which a few German or Italian individuals might make to the enemy’s war effort is less important than the possible repercussion from interference with the desires of the American Republics to rid themselves of dangerous Axis nationals and to conduct their own exchange arrangements without hindrance from any of the United Nations to whose common cause these Republics are either allied or outspokenly friendly.