The Secretary of State to the Swiss Minister (Bruggmann)
The Secretary of State presents his compliments to the Honorable the Minister of Switzerland in charge of German interests in the United States and refers to the Legation’s note dated May 17, 1943,17 transmitting the proposal made by the German Government with regard to the repatriation of seriously sick and seriously wounded prisoners of war captured in Tunisia.
The Government of the United States has considered the proposal of the German Government for the repatriation of seriously sick and seriously wounded prisoners of war, and is agreeable to same on the basis of the adoption by both Governments, as a basic policy for the duration of hostilities, that seriously sick and seriously wounded prisoners of war shall be promptly mutually repatriated, regardless of the operation in which they were taken and of their rank or number, as provided in and required by the Geneva Convention on prisoners of war.
The Government of the United States agrees, as proposed by the German Government, that, first of all, the qualifications for the repatriation of the seriously sick and seriously wounded prisoners of war shall be examined by the medical doctors of the Medical Corps of the detaining Power, without prejudice to the right of any prisoner not found so qualified to appeal to a neutral medical commission created and functioning as provided in the Geneva Convention.
The United States Government proposes that, if agreeable to the Swedish Government, American prisoners of war to be repatriated shall be delivered to the United States authorities at Göteborg, at which point there will be delivered to the German authorities the German repatriables presently held in the United States and the United Kingdom by the American Forces.
With respect to the German prisoners held in Northwest Africa, the Government of the United States will concentrate those to be repatriated at a Northwest African port to be designated, where they will be delivered to the ships which the German Government has offered to send.
The Government of the United States will make available for delivery at one time, at Göteborg and at the Northwest African port to be designated, all the prisoners of war to be delivered there, and will expect the German Government to do likewise with respect to the American prisoners of war to be delivered at Göteborg. The Government of the United States intends to send to Göteborg enough shipping [Page 66] to take delivery at one time of all the personnel being returned to it there.
The Government of the United States understands that a proposal along similar lines is being made simultaneously to Germany by the British Government, in order that the German Government and the British Government shall carry out their agreement at the same time and with the same means as the Government of the United States.
If the German Government is agreeable, the Government of the United States would be willing to arrange for the mutual repatriation at the same time and by the same means of surplus German and American protected personnel, in conformity with the Geneva Convention for the Amelioration of the Condition of the Wounded and Sick of Armies in the Field. The Government of the United States would be agreeable to defining surplus protected personnel as including all in excess of two medical doctors, six enlisted sanitary personnel, one dentist, and one chaplain, per one thousand prisoners.
The Government of the United States is presently ascertaining the names and number of German prisoners of war to be repatriated, and will be glad to receive similar information from the German Government with such expedition as is possible. In preparation for the possibility that the German Government may be agreeable to include the repatriation of surplus protected personnel, the Government of the United States is also ascertaining their names and number at this time, for communication to the German Government, and would be glad, in the eventuality of German agreement for such repatriation, to receive similar information from the German Government. The Government of the United States desires to make it clear, however, that its suggestion with respect to the repatriation of protected personnel is not a condition upon or a qualification of its agreement for the immediate repatriation of seriously sick and seriously wounded prisoners of war.
- Not printed.↩