Memorandum by the Legal Adviser (Hackworth) to the Division of Far Eastern Affairs and the Special Division

I offer no objection to the suggestion contained in the last paragraph of FE’s55 memorandum of September 156 regarding the Legation at Bangkok but I consider that the following observations should be borne in mind:

Mr. Peck’s explanation of the circumstances under which the inventory of property in the Legation was given to the Thai Government and the reasons therefor appear to be sound. If we are to hold the Thai Government responsible for the contents of the building it was only reasonable to inform that Government of the contents;
The taking over of Legation premises of an enemy country, while not generally resorted to, is not without precedent, nor is such action in contravention of any established rule of international law, although respect for archives seems to be rather firmly established;
I hardly see what purpose would be served by informing the Thai Government that we intend to hold it responsible for the safeguarding of the buildings and property, since we can do this just as well without prior notification as we can with such notification, and the Thai Government undoubtedly knows this;
I think that we have already covered the whole matter sufficiently by our telegram of July 7 [13],57 wherein we requested that the Thai Government be informed (1) that we saw no justification [Page 937]for the demand that it receive an inventory of the property and that we regarded the Swiss Government’s representative at Bangkok as the proper depository of the inventory, and (2) that we viewed with even greater concern the report that the premises of the Legation had been seized for military purposes, which act we condemned as utter disrespect for the inviolability generally regarded as appertaining to such property.

Green H. Hackworth
  1. Division of Far Eastern Affairs.
  2. Not printed; it suggested “that an instruction be sent to Bern, replying to its no. 3688, August 10, directing that the Swiss Government be asked to inform the Thai Government that the American Government maintains its position that the Thai authorities acted irregularly in insisting upon receiving a copy of the official inventory and in occupying American Legation property, but that since the Thai Government has seen fit to take these steps the American Government intends to hold the Thai authorities responsible for the safeguarding of the? premises and the buildings and property situated thereon.”

    No record of reply to telegram No. 3688 found in Department files.

  3. No. 1764, p. 935.