Memorandum by the Assistant Chief of the Division of European Affairs (Hickerson)5
At Mr. Atherton’s6 request I received the Swedish Minister this morning. He handed me the attached note of January 277 relating to the Selective Service Act as well as the attached personal letter also dated January 27 addressed to Mr. Atherton8 dealing with certain particular cases. At the Minister’s request I read his note through. I told him at once that I could not agree that the Selective Service Act was either contrary to International Law or in any way infringed our treaty or other obligations to Sweden. I referred to the exemptions contained in the Act itself under which the national of a neutral country may be released from the obligation to serve in our armed forces. Mr. Boström replied that this was of course true [Page 486]but he referred to the punitive action taken against the individual if he claimed exemption. I replied that the punitive action merely said that such a neutral alien would be barred from becoming an American citizen; I added that if a neutral alien lived in this country and did not consider the United States worth fighting for certainly he could not object to being denied the right to become a citizen.
As regards the particular cases referred to in the Minister’s letter I told him for his confidential information that the Selective Service Administration was now revising its regulations and I felt that most of the matters which he complained about would probably be dealt with in a satisfactory way in the revised regulations. I told the Minister that we would in due course give him replies to his note and his letter.