740.00116 E. W./8–1944: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Ambassador in the United Kingdom (Winant)

6628. The Department has received a note dated August 11, 1944 from Hoppenot, head of the French Delegation at Washington,29 alleging that the Germans are using French political prisoners (presumably of anti-Vichy stripe) to remove the fuses from delayed action bombs dropped in France by Allied aviators. The note contends that such action constitutes a flagrant violation of Hague Convention IV of “1900” (presumably 190730 as there is no Hague Convention of 1900) and adds that General Koenig has already explored with SHAEF the means whereby an end might be put to this “illegal and odious” practice. The note states that the Allied High Command feels that it could have recourse only to publicity as a means to achieve the desired end, although it considers such action insufficient, and has recommended to the French authorities that they bring the matter to the attention of the American and British Governments. The note concludes with a request that the Department consider the manner whereby diplomatic action might be taken which would lead the German Government to discontinue the aforesaid practice.

The Department understands that a similar approach is being made to the British Government.

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The Department feels that the German practice, if actually a fact, is reprehensible and that every proper effort should be made to induce the Germans to desist. Article 46 of Hague Convention IV appears to provide the only legal ground upon which a protest might be lodged. If facts are confirmed the Department would be disposed, in parallel with the British Government, to make a strong protest through the protecting Power, and, if the Germans then fail to desist, in making a joint public statement castigating the Germans for this renewed demonstration of their capacity for devising inhuman methods of oppressing and exterminating any unfortunate individuals who do not see eye to eye with them.

Please discuss this matter with the Foreign Office and, if considered desirable and necessary, with the Allied military authorities who are informed of the facts, and telegraph the Department your own and British views on the subject.

  1. Not printed.
  2. For text of Convention IV, see Foreign Relations, 1907, pt. ii, p. 1204.