740.00115 European War/11–444: Telegram

The Acting Secretary of State to the Minister in Switzerland (Harrison)

3921. American Interests—Hungary. Following is second paragraph of telegram 4235 from Embassy Moscow93 regarding protection of American citizens at Budapest:

“I added that for purposes of protection during the period of military activity in and about Budapest, the Americans in the city might decide to concentrate in one place, and that the Venta Sanitarium had been under consideration for this purpose. If this occurred we would try to see that the Soviet authorities were notified, both here and in Budapest. In the meantime, I asked that the competent Soviet military authorities be informed of the presence of Americans in the Budapest area, of the possibility of their concentration, and of the interest of my Government in their safety.”

Department is replying94 as follows:

“Communications between Bern and Budapest are understood to be very unreliable and it is doubtful whether a last minute decision to concentrate Americans at Venta Sanitarium could be communicated to you in time to serve any useful purpose.

London reports that British Embassy at Moscow has received instructions regarding protection of British subjects at Budapest. Naturally, the approaches which you and your British colleague make to the Soviet Government should be suitably correlated if that has not already been done. You should proceed on the assumption that the Americans will be concentrated at the Sanitarium and attempt to have the Soviet authorities take steps to insure its safety.”

With reference to inquiry of Swiss Legation Budapest described in your 7528, November 14, 3 p.m.,95 Department would appreciate having Swiss Government informed that communication of Hungarian Government dated November 4 may represent attempt by German Government to obtain custody of American and British hostages and hence that United States Government distrusts statements of Hungarian Government. Department requests that Swiss Legation at Budapest find some pretext to delay delivery of list of Americans at large unless it is convinced that the Hungarian Government actually [Page 1219]contemplates the repatriation of the Americans and that it would not expose them to unnecessary danger to endeavor to evacuate them for inclusion in the proposed exchange with Germany.

Department would have no objection if Swiss Legation in responding to Hungarian communication should state that United States Government is concerned to learn that it is proposed to move the Americans through an area which is the scene of active military operations and would like to know what arrangements Hungarians are in a position to make for the safety of the Americans if the scheme is activated.

If Swiss Foreign Office should raise the question please inform it that Embassy Moscow has fully familiarized the Soviet Foreign Office with the situation at Budapest so far as the Department is aware of it.

Stettinius
  1. Dated November 4, 7 p.m., not printed.
  2. Telegram 2695, November 18, 6 p.m., to Moscow, not printed.
  3. Not printed; it concerned a report (summarized in telegram 2695, November 18, to Moscow) that on November 4 the Hungarian Government (1) was considering evacuation of British and American citizens in connection with a proposed exchange of civilians between British and German and United States and German Governments, (2) intended to ship all American and British nationals in Hungary to Germany to the extent that they could be found, and (3) requested the Swiss Legation at Budapest to provide them with a list of American nationals who were at liberty and had not up to that time been interned (340.1115A/11–1444).