740.00116 European War 1939/925
The Secretary of State to
Washington, May 11,
My Dear Mr. President: In accordance with your
request I enclose a draft statement which you may wish to make with respect
to the use of poison gas by any of our enemies.
Statement by the President on Gas Warfare11
From time to time since the present war began there have been reports
that one or more of the Axis powers were seriously contemplating use of
poisonous or noxious gases or other inhumane devices of warfare.
I have been loath to believe that any nation, even our present enemies,
could or would be willing to loose upon mankind such terrible and
inhumane weapons. However, evidence that the Axis powers are making
significant preparations indicative of such an intention is being
reported with increasing frequency from a variety of sources.
Use of such weapons has been outlawed by the general opinion of civilized
mankind. This country has not used them, and I hope that [Page 407] we never will be compelled to use
them. I state categorically that we shall under no circumstances resort
to the use of such weapons unless they are first used by our
As President of the United States and as Commander-in-Chief of the
American Armed Forces, I want to make clear beyond all doubt to any of
our enemies contemplating a resort to such desperate and barbarous
methods that acts of this nature committed against any one of the United
Nations will be regarded as having been committed against the United
States itself and will be treated accordingly. We promise to any
perpetrators of such crimes full and swift retaliation in kind, and I
feel obliged now to warn the Axis armies and the Axis peoples, in Europe
and in Asia, that the terrible consequences of any use of these inhumane
methods on their part will be brought down swiftly and surely upon their
own heads. Any use of gas by any Axis power, therefore, will immediately
be followed by the fullest possible retaliation upon munition centers,
seaports and other military objectives throughout the whole extent of
the territory of such Axis country.