703.5411B/3: Telegram

The Chargé in Switzerland (Huddle) to the Secretary of State

655. American interests—Philippines. Department’s 410, February 11, 3 p.m., 445, February 14, 4 p.m.85 and 446, February 14.

Legation officer and Minister De Pury, Chief, Division [of] Foreign Interests, Swiss Foreign Office, yesterday discussed at length situation of Americans and Filipinos in Philippines territory in Japanese hands with respect to ability of Swiss representatives to report thereon for American Government and to exercise their informal good offices so far as possible in alleviating the lot of those American nationals.
Minister De Pury, in the first place, gave assurance that it had always been understood that the use only of Swiss good offices was requested by the Legation on behalf of the American nationals in question and not of representation of American interests in the Philippines which is American territory (in accordance with Department’s 13, January 3, 7 p.m.) and further that instructions have been worded accordingly to Swiss representatives who do not appear to have misunderstood them.
He then referred to attitude of Japanese authorities first in refusing Swiss Minister at Tokyo information and communication with Manila on American and other opposing belligerents matters [Page 847] (as indicated in Legation’s 126, January 13, 6 p.m., 298, January 29, and 515, February 1186) and secondly in divesting Swiss Consul at Manila of his official status and functions (see Legation’s 541, February 1287—Consul is honorary so he may remain Manila but only as private citizen). He said Switzerland is therefore in position at present of having no official representative at Manila even for its own interests. Consequently, in face of Japanese attitude, Swiss authorities, although very desirous, are unable to extend desired assistance, including even making simple welfare inquiries.
Upon inquiry whether Swiss Government would make representations to Japanese Government for continuance Swiss consular activities at Manila and possibly point out with reference to Japanese refusal of information regarding welfare American civilians [that] humanitarian services being performed by Switzerland for Japanese and other Axis nationals in territories of United States and other anti-Axis powers with facilities provided by those powers, Minister said he thought it would do no good, that Japanese are acting as Russians have acted and with same unreasonableness. However, following a verbal inquiry in the premises he gave as the opinion of a responsible Foreign Office official subject to confirmation by the Foreign Minister88 that Switzerland as small neutral country should consider Japanese action as one of military necessity and make no representations against it. Foreign Office, of course, remains receptive to request from American Government for transmission further communication to Japanese Government protesting attitude toward American nationals in question.
Accordingly Swiss official channels appear to be closed for obtaining information regarding American nationals in Japanese-occupied territory in the Philippines, Hong Kong and now Singapore. They are apparently still open to the Swiss Minister at Tokyo for Japan proper including Korea and Manchuria; and also the Swiss Chargé d’Affaires at Shanghai89 and Consuls at Saigon and Bangkok90 with whom Swiss Foreign Office continues in communication, remain available for inquiries in their districts.
In view of circumstances as described above, the Legation is requesting Swiss Foreign Office communicate to Japanese Government only paragraphs numbered 1 to 4 of Department’s 446, February 14, and informing Intercroixrouge91 as directed in final paragraph thereof pending Department’s further instructions.
  1. Telegram No. 445 not printed.
  2. Telegram No. 515 not printed.
  3. Not printed.
  4. Marcel Pilet-Golaz.
  5. Emile Fontanel.
  6. Hans Hirsbrunner and Walter Siegenthaler, respectively.
  7. International Red Cross.