840.51 Frozen Credits/7474

Memorandum of Conversation, by the Legal Adviser (Hackworth)

The Swiss Minister15 called today at his request and discussed at some length the following three subjects: (1) the drafting of Swiss [Page 492]nationals into the military service; (2) the freezing of Swiss funds; and (3) the request that has been made of him that the German and Italian funds left in his control, in the form of American currency, be deposited in a frozen account and that funds needed for current expenses on behalf of Germany and Italy be provided by those Governments.

As to the drafting of Swiss nationals, he invoked article II of the treaty of 1850 between the United States and Switzerland, exempting the nationals of the respective countries from military service in the territories of the other (2 Treaties, etc. (Malloy, 1910) 1763, 1764—1765).16 He also invoked the convention signed November 11, 1937 by our two countries regarding military obligations of persons with dual nationality (Treaty Series 94317).

He said that his Government is not so much interested in Swiss nationals who have declared their intention to become citizens of the United States as it is in non-declarant nationals. He knew that they could escape service at the time of registration by claiming exemption, but thought that the provision that they should thereafter be disqualified to become citizens placed them in an undesirable class. He said that they would even be treated worse than alien enemies, who, because they are enemies, might be excused from military service but without any inhibition regarding the future acquisition of citizenship. I told him that we recognized the treaty obligations and that we felt that the escape provision in the law was a sufficient safeguard. He said that his Government is not only interested in the treaty situation but that Switzerland has always endeavored to remain aloof from wars and to maintain a strict neutrality; that the drafting of Swiss nationals in our Army might cause other governments to do likewise and that eventually Swiss might be fighting against each other in opposing armies; also that under the laws of Switzerland Swiss nationals are penalized for service in foreign armies, and that, all in all, Swiss nationals are finding themselves in a rather precarious situation. He said that many of them did not like to be branded as undesirable residents by requesting exemption, and he wondered what the situation would be if they did make such claim; also whether there would be any relief from the prohibition regarding acquisition of citizenship. I said that I could not speak authoritatively on the subject—that I did not suppose that they would be required to leave the country if they were otherwise entitled to remain here but that I could make no statement as to whether the Congress might change its attitude regarding citizenship. I called his attention to the fact that a similar law passed in 191818 remained on the statute books [Page 493]Until 1940, and that such persons should not request exemption in the hope that they might later be relieved of the disabilities resulting therefrom.

[Here follows record of discussion of other matters.]

Green H. Hackworth
  1. Charles Bruggmann.
  2. Printed also in Miller (ed.), Treaties and Other International Acts of the United States of America, vol. 5, p. 845.
  3. Also in 53 Stat. (pt. 3) 1791.
  4. 40 Stat. 885.