702.0000/1: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the American Representative to the French Committee of National Liberation at Algiers (Wilson)

2120. For Murphy. Your 2027, June 15, 5 p.m. Question of treatment of enemy consulates in territory occupied by Allied military forces was referred by the Combined Chiefs of Staff to the Combined Intelligence Committee in Washington. The Department instructed its representative on the Committee to take the following position:

The seals of a protecting power should under no circumstances be broken regardless of whether such seals are protecting diplomatic or consular archives and property. During the entire war the Department has taken the position that the protection extended by the third power to belligerent consular and diplomatic property should be respected. It has protested vigorously in the several instances where the enemy has failed to respect the authority of the protecting power. It is contrary to the policy and practice of the United States Government to enter and search consular premises although it is recognized that consulates and consular archives have no right to immunity. If the Allies now establish a practice of entering and searching all German consulates in cities which come under Allied military domination, this Government may expect that its consular premises in enemy-occupied territory will suffer. According to available reports the American consular premises in Rome were not violated and, generally speaking, the enemy has respected the immunity of American consular premises in Germany and the German-occupied territories of Europe. If we should undertake a different course, it can be assumed that the Germans would not continue this practice. Careful consideration has been given to General Wilson’s reasons49 why present [Page 1489]Allied policy should be reversed. Routine matters such as visas, invoices and citizenship form the bulk of consular archives. Before the enemy turns over his interests to the protecting power, it can be assumed that the small amount of confidential useful information will, under standing instructions, have been destroyed. Therefore, it is the opinion of the State Department that the doubtful advantages which might be gained from entering and searching enemy consular premises would be outweighed by the damage to American prestige and property resulting from a reversal of policy at this time.

Sent to Algiers, repeated to Naples for Kirk.

  1. See bracketed note, p. 1485.