740.00116 European War 1939/1016b: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Ambassador in Turkey (Steinhardt)5

644. The President this morning issued the following statement:

“On August 21, 1942 I issued a statement to the press6 in which after referring to the crimes against innocent people committed by the Axis Powers I stated:

‘The United Nations are going to win this war. When victory has been achieved, it is the purpose of the Government of the United States, as I know it is the purpose of each of the United Nations, to make appropriate use of the information and evidence in respect to the barbaric crimes of the invaders, in Europe and in Asia. It seems only fair that they should have this warning that the time will come when they shall have to stand in courts of law in the very countries which they are now oppressing and answer for their acts.’

On October 7, 1942 I stated that it was ‘the intention of this Government that the successful close of the war shall include provisions for the surrender to the United Nations of war criminals.’7

The wheels of justice have turned constantly since those statements were issued and are still turning. There are now rumors that Mussolini and members of his Fascist gang may attempt to take refuge [Page 462] in neutral territory. One day Hitler and his gang and Tojo and his gang will be trying to escape from their countries. I find it difficult to believe that any neutral country would give asylum to or extend protection to any of them. I can only say that the Government of the United States would regard the action by a neutral government in affording asylum to Axis leaders or their tools as inconsistent with the principles for which the United Nations are fighting and that the United States Government hopes that no neutral government will permit its territory to be used as a place of refuge or otherwise assist such persons in any effort to escape their just deserts.”

In concert with your British and Soviet colleagues you are requested to bring the President’s statement to the attention of the Minister for Foreign Affairs8 in writing. You should not, however, delay action if your Soviet colleague has not received instructions.

  1. The same to Sweden (No. 826); similar telegrams, on the same date, to Argentina (No. 1132), Portugal (No. 1295), Spain (No. 1631), and Switzerland (No. 1801) with instructions for repetition to the Vatican.
  2. Department of State Bulletin, August 22, 1942, p. 709.
  3. See telegram No. 4867, October 6, 1942, 5 p.m., to the Ambassador in the United Kingdom, Foreign Relations, 1942, vol. i, p. 59.
  4. Numan Menemencioğlu.