Memorandum by the Assistant Chief of the Division of European Affairs (Hickerson)
After extensive conversations between officials of the Department of State and officials of the Selective Service Administration, the following has been tentatively agreed upon (subject to official approval by the Selective Service Administration, the Department of State and, where necessary, the War Department) as the policy to be followed by the Government of the United States in regard to the status in the United States of nationals of those countries at war with the Axis Powers in respect to our draft law; and the enlistment in certain cases in the armed forces of their respective countries of these nationals:
The United States Selective Training and Service Act of 1940,88 as amended, provides that every male citizen of the United States and every male residing in the United States, between the ages of 18 and 65 shall register. Certain special groups such as officials of foreign governments who are not American citizens and active members of foreign armed forces are exempt from registration. The Act, as amended, provides further that registrants between the ages of 20 and 44 are liable for active military service in the United States armed forces.
The Act, as amended, provides special treatment for nationals of neutral countries and enemy aliens. This memorandum therefore, as pointed out above, deals solely with aliens who are nationals of countries at war with the Axis Powers. As it is recognized that from the standpoint of morale some special action would appear to be desirable with respect to these aliens, the Selective Service Administration is prepared to allow such aliens who have not declared an intention of becoming an American citizen to indicate whether they desire to enlist voluntarily in the forces of their own country prior to their induction into the military forces of the United States. Provided the United States War Department informs the Selective Service Administration that the alien’s country has adequate training facilities, the Selective Service Administration will pass on to [Page 817]representatives of the alien’s country in the United States the names of those aliens who indicate preference to serve in the forces of that country. It will then be open to the authorities of the country to enlist such an alien in their armed forces. If such enlistment takes place, the representative of the country in question will inform the Selective Service Administration and the latter will grant deferment to the alien under the United States draft law for so long as he continues to serve in the foreign force. If the alien in question does not enlist in the forces of his own country he will, of course, be drafted in the regular manner into the armed forces of the United States.
The foregoing régime will be subject to the following conditions:
- That the representative in the United States of the foreign government in question accept the engagement that no threat or compulsion of any nature will be exercised by that government to induce an alien in the United States to enlist in the forces of the foreign government.
- That any foreign government participating in the scheme should give this Government an assurance of reciprocal treatment within its own territory as regards American citizens being permitted to enlist in the forces of the United States.
- That the foreign governments participating will give an undertaking not to accept enlistments from American citizens subject to registration nor from aliens of any nationality who have declared their intention of becoming American citizens and are subject to registration.
- Approved September 16, 1940; 54 Stat. 885.↩