701.6210/86a: Telegram

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

816. Your 1236, March 26 and your 920, March 6.61

1. United States Government notes that the German Government agrees that the German groups from Bolivia, Peru and Ecuador shall be repatriated through the United States subject to certain conditions which have already been complied with in that German Government has already been notified through Swiss and Spanish channels regarding the vessels which will bring the Germans from Bolivia, Peru and Ecuador to the United States and has been assured that the vessels will be identified in the manner specified by the German Government in its previous communication received through Swiss channels (your 1115, March 1961a). As the present communication of the German Government additionally specifies that the national flag shall be painted on the sides and top deck of the vessels, prompt steps will be taken to have this additional identification placed upon the vessels. United States Government therefore assumes that these German groups will be promptly directed to embark.

2. An official list of the members of the German official groups to be repatriated through or from this country has been furnished to the Swiss Legation at Washington. This list comprised officials and persons whom this Government has agreed to treat as officials. Additional lists of persons official or non-official to be embarked upon the exchange vessel will be furnished to the Swiss Legation.

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3. United States Government notes German statement regarding repatriation of former German officials in Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay. United States Government has already informed Portuguese Government that upon receipt of the requisite data the necessary safe conduct will be provided for the voyage of vessels carrying these persons.

4. United States Government now agrees on basis of reciprocity that German officials being repatriated from or through the United States may take with them their household effects, except furniture, so far as those effects are packed or are entrusted to responsible warehousing or storage firms capable of preparing them for shipment and are ready in due time for lading on the exchange vessel. United States Government has previously stated and now reasserts its willingness on basis of reciprocity that additional household effects may be shipped by existing commercial means after the departure of the exchange vessel. The Governments of Bolivia, Peru and Ecuador will now be informed that this additional category of effects may be placed on board the vessels bringing German groups to the United States. The same facilities will be extended to the German officials from other American Republics who are already in this country.

5. With respect to the expressed wish of the German Government that the German groups to be exchanged shall travel on a single voyage and its suggestion that as the Drottningholm is not large enough for this purpose another vessel be chartered, United States Government recognizing that the number of persons whom it has undertaken to repatriate via Lisbon is greater than the passenger capacity of any vessel, has already arranged for this vessel to make two successive trips to Lisbon. In order that second trip of Drottningholm will not delay arrangements for exchange of Japanese and American officials and non-officials, United States Government is negotiating for charter of a second vessel for that purpose. It is noted that German Government will communicate separately with Swedish Government regarding technical arrangements for voyage of Drottningholm to United States.

With two trips of the Drottningholm it will be possible to repatriate non-official nationals in excess of the number originally contemplated in Department’s 542, February 25.62 It is intention of United States Government, after accommodating on exchange vessel all European Axis officials and their dependents as well as all non-official European Axis nationals and their dependents from the other American Republics for repatriation whether already here or hereafter received prior to the departure of the exchange vessel on either of its trips to Lisbon, to include for repatriation, on a basis of reciprocity, all non-official [Page 346] European Axis nationals in the United States desiring to leave, including specific occupational categories mentioned by German Government (your 8.91, March 5) whether interned or not interned, to the full capacity of the vessel on each trip, except for any individuals whose return may be considered prejudicial to the national interest. Should the vessel be unable to carry all such non-official nationals, this Government on a basis of reciprocity will permit the remainder to be repatriated by neutral commercial vessels as suggested by German Government or by such other means as may be determined.

On the first voyage of the Drottningholm it is anticipated that all Axis career officials and their dependents to the extent that suitable accommodations are available will be accommodated and that the vessel will then be filled to capacity with European Axis non-officials received from other American Republics; on the second voyage there will be accommodated the remaining European Axis officials and their dependents together with as many as possible of the Axis non-officials to be repatriated to the full capacity of the vessel.

The consideration for this Government’s agreement to repatriate such non-official European nationals on so broad a scale is, of course, agreement on the part of the Axis Governments concerned to permit all bona fide United States citizens, and citizens of the other American Republics, whether interned or not interned, who desire to return to United States to leave Axis or Axis-controlled territory in time to board the exchange vessel on its return voyages from Lisbon. Others of the Axis Governments concerned have already indicated their agreement, and it is hoped that German Government will likewise communicate its agreement at the earliest possible date, providing promptly through Swiss channels list of those German non-official nationals in United States in whose expressed desire to return to Germany the German Government concurs. All German citizens in United States are free to communicate with Swiss Legation at Washington and vice versa. Those to be repatriated will be provided with means of transportation to port of embarkation and necessary exist permits.

Swiss Government has been asked to prepare list of United States citizens desiring to return home from Germany and German-occupied territory. This list will be communicated to the German Government as soon as received to extent United States Government concurs in the repatriation of those listed. It is expected that all United States citizens in German-controlled areas will be given all facilities necessary to communicate with Swiss representatives and that all those expressing a desire to leave will be provided with means of transportation to Portugal and with all necessary exit permits in time to [Page 347] obtain necessary visas and reach Portugal in order that no space may be wasted on the exchange vessel on its return voyages.

With respect to the German Government’s suggestion that in the future general internment of German and American citizens shall not be undertaken by the respective governments and that should it develop in future that the presence in territory of one of the countries of a citizen of the other country appears prejudicial to the national safety, the protecting power could act as intermediary in arranging the return travel of such citizen to his home country, it is suggested that by such an inclusive exchange as that proposed herein the number of nationals thereafter susceptible of internment would be so greatly reduced as to constitute no problem. However, in so far as any citizen of either country remaining on the soil of the other subsequent to such general exchange may appear at any time prejudicial to the safety of the country of his temporary residence, negotiations could as suggested by German Government, be undertaken through the protecting power for the deportation and repatriation of such persons.

In addition to accepting German Government’s proposal that persons susceptible of military service be required through a formal declaration to obligate themselves not to bear arms throughout the war, this Government proposes that all nationals repatriated under any phase of this arrangment shall be considered obligated not to return to the hemisphere from which they are being repatriated under penalty, if apprehended, of internment for the duration of the war, exception being made, of course, for any officials who may so return under safe conduct.

6. United States Government notes that German Government considers the exchange of officials with all the countries of Western Hemisphere to constitute one operation even though effected in two sections. It is further noted that the German Government requests assurance that all vessels engaged in this movement will be free of molestation and search by all countries at war. United States Government, which considers the assurances referred to by German Government essential to the conclusion of the exchange, is prepared to give and to seek from the powers friendly to it such assurances and expects to receive similar assurances from German Government and the powers friendly to Germany. In this connection reference is made to paragraph 11 of Department’s telegram no. 338 of December 19, in which provision is made for deposit with Swiss Government of assurances of safe conduct for these vessels.

It is understood, as provided in the original proposal of the United States Government, that the exchange vessel will be unarmed and will not travel in convoy; that it will be marked in accordance with the suggestions made by the German Government; and that it will [Page 348] not enter into the waters which the German Government considers dangerous.

7. The inquiry of the German Government whether an agreement exists is noted. As Swiss Minister at Berlin pointed out to Swiss Foreign Office in forwarding the German communication of March 21, the latest German communication (your no. 1236, March 26) does not touch on the several points which have heretofore been raised in connection with the exchange.

United States Government believes that, with the concession on basis of reciprocity of extra facilities regarding effects to be transported, (see paragraph 4 above) a complete agreement exists with the German Government regarding the exchange of officials. It is hoped that the clarification regarding non-official persons to be exchanged, which the Swiss Minister considers desirable, has been attained by the statement of this Government under (5) above. It is hoped that an early agreement may be reached respecting the inclusion of non-official nationals on the broader basis indicated in order that, without delaying the official exchange, all United States citizens and nationals of other American Republics in territory under German control who desire to return may be able to embark upon the exchange vessel to its full capacity on its return trips from Lisbon.

8. Reference is made to the second part of paragraph 3 of the German communication of February 26 to the Swiss Legation at Bern (your no. 891, March 5) regarding the immediate dependents of officials of both Governments not assigned to the countries from’ which repatriation is being effected. This statement constitutes agreement to suggestion previously made by United States Government regarding the dependents of American officials not accredited to Germany and German officials not accredited to United States. It is noted, however, that Swiss Legation at Washington construes this agreement to refer to any persons closely related to any former German officials living or dead. Swiss Legation promised to provide Department of State with list of such persons, but this list has not yet been received. Upon receipt, list will be examined to determine whether the persons named come within the scope of the agreement which this Government desires to make with the German Government.

9. Swiss Minister at Berlin should explain to German Foreign Office that transfer of German nationals to White Sulphur is not prerequisite to embarkation of such persons upon official exchange vessel, since steps will be taken to place on that vessel any German nationals designated for embarkation regardless of the place where they may be situated. Quarters at White Sulphur are limited and cannot possibly be expanded to accommodate all the persons to travel on the two trips of the exchange vessel.

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10. Government of United States desires to know whether German Government accepts and is willing to proceed to give effect to the comprehensive exchange arrangements proposed herein. In view of the time element, it would be appreciated if Swiss Foreign Office would present foregoing to German Foreign Office in shortest possible time and request promptest possible reply.

  1. Latter not printed.
  2. See telegram No. 154, March 21, 1942, to the Ambassador in Spain, p. 336.
  3. See footnote 27, p. 315.