740.00116 European War 1939/1136

The Netherlands Ambassador (Loudon) to President Roosevelt 1

My Dear Mr. President, In the course of Her latest visit to Hyde Park the Queen discussed with you the opportunity of issuing a declaration with a view to preventing as much as possible destruction by the Germans upon their leaving the occupied countries. The Queen discussed this idea also with the British Prime Minister and the British Foreign Secretary, who were in favour of it and asked for a draft declaration. Such a draft has now been prepared and approved by Her Majesty.

Acting upon instructions I have just received, I have the honour to transmit to you herewith a copy of the draft which has also been handed to the British Foreign Office.

Dr. van Kleffens instructs me moreover to submit to you the request that this draft be discussed with the British Prime Minister, if this would be agreeable to you.

I beg to add that the Queen would have no objection against a shorter and more strongly worded text.

Dr. van Kleffens would highly appreciate if further consultations could take place for the final drafting of this declaration and its subsequent handling, especially with regard to the opportune moment of its publication. In this connection Dr. van Kleffens ventures the suggestion whether it would be desirable to ask the Soviet Union to participate.

With my highest esteem [etc.]

A. Loudon

Draft Declaration

In the regions of Europe which Germany has occupied, the German authorities and their subordinates have shown a measure of harshness and cruelty which not only violates clear and binding rules of international law but runs counter to the most elementary feelings of common decency. Confinement in concentration camps of evil and sinister repute, seizure of hostages (a practice expressly forbidden in [Page 1053] a solemn treaty of 1907, to which Germany has expressly adhered) and large scale deportation of men and even of women, are common German practice and these are far from being the worst offences committed in the name of Germany. In many cases, especially in Eastern Europe and with regard to the Jews, German action assumed proportions of bestiality. Wholesale slaughter of tens of thousands of innocent people will be forever a blot on the German name. In the economic field the Germans have taken measures indicating that far from their showing any regard for the occupied countries and their population, they are bent upon crippling the resources of those territories. The German nation as a whole may not as yet have a full knowledge of all the savagery and brutality committed in its name. But that nation cannot be presumed to be ignorant of what has been and still is being done. Remembering further what the German authorities did towards the end of the last war in territory then under their occupation, the Governments of . . . . . . .2 issue the following warning to the German Government, civil and military authorities and people:

When the hour of liberation strikes for the occupied regions, those Germans who are stationed there may receive orders, or feel inclined to do their utmost not to leave the territory they hold before having wrought havoc, not only by an attempt to destroy objects of value to the wellbeing of the country concerned but also by murdering or deporting a still larger part of the population. All Germans should bear in mind that those guilty of such acts will be held responsible for their misdeeds, not only the leaders and authorities who plan crimes of this kind or give orders to commit them, but also the actual perpetrators. Moreover, from now on any further action against the population of the occupied regions including that part of the population that has been deported to Germany—in complete disregard of international law—either as prisoners or as hostages, as workers in war-industries or otherwise, any act of destruction calculated to obstruct the resumption of the economic or social life of the occupied countries to impoverish them or to impede their recovery, exposes Germany and the Germans to retaliation of the severest kind.

  1. This message was delivered to the Department of State on August 22, 1943, under cover of the following note: “The Netherlands Ambassador presents his compliments to the Honorable the acting Secretary of State, and has the honor to request Mr. Sumner Welles that through his intermediary the enclosed documents, copies of which are attached, be transmitted at the earliest opportunity to the President of the United States of America.” The Ambassador’s message to Roosevelt and the enclosed draft of a declaration were delivered by the Department of State to the White House Map Room at 7:30 p.m. the same day, and were forwarded to Roosevelt at Quebec later the same evening in telegram No. White 116.
  2. Ellipsis in the source text.