740.00114 European War 1939/3551

The Swiss Chargé ( Feer ) to the Secretary of State

The Chargé d’Affaires ad interim of Switzerland presents his compliments to the Honorable the Secretary of State and has the honor to transmit the translation of a cable which, at the request of the Italian Government, the Italian Legation at Bern sent to the Federal Political Department:

“The Italian Legation has the honor to bring to the knowledge of the Political Department the eager desire of the Royal Government to obtain the immediate repatriation of the wounded and the seriously sick who remained in Tunisia after the battle and the military actions which have taken place there. This would refer in substance to those cases in which, in the opinion of the British and North American military physicians, it appears probable that an ensuing invalidity in the future will result to such an extent as to justify repatriation, according to Article 68 of the Geneva Convention.1

The Royal Italian Government warmly requests the Swiss Government to point out in the best possible way to the British and North American Governments the fact that the proposal is based on purely humanitarian considerations and that, if accepted, it will not only relieve the task of the British and American medical Service, but will alleviate also the grave hardships and the ensuing danger to which the Italian wounded and gravely sick are exposed because of the torrid climate and of the necessarily reduced aid facilities.

In case the proposal is accepted, as the Royal Italian Government hopes it will be, the Italian authorities would send, according to circumstances, one or more hospital ships to a port of North Africa which may be designated by the above mentioned governments. Should the British and American authorities deem it preferable that the transport should take place on British or American ships, the latter could put in at a neutral port, for instance, Barcelona.

The Royal Government declares itself ready to repatriate in exchange all the invalid British and North American prisoners of war who might be submitted to a further examination by the Mixed [Page 50] Medical Commission and for whom instead the Commission could order that a special urgent examination take place.

A similar proposal will be presented by the German Government”.2

The Chargé d’Affaires ad interim would be grateful to the Honorable the Secretary of State for letting him know as soon as possible the United States Government’s answer to this proposal.

  1. International Convention Relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War, signed at Geneva, July 27, 1929, Foreign Relations, 1929, vol. i, pp. 336, 352.
  2. Not printed.