740.00116 European War 1939/1405

The Secretary of State to the American Representative on the United Nations War Crimes Commission (Pell)

No. 14

Sir: Reference is made to your despatch no. 14989 dated April 12, 194452 in which you state that a certain number of Germans, and perhaps citizens of other Axis countries, have taken out Spanish naturalization papers with the possible intention of thereby escaping the attention of the United Nations. It has been suggested, you say, that the United Nations should refuse to recognize any naturalization of citizens of enemy states completed after the beginning of the war. You add that you will not take part in any debate on the subject without instructions from the Department.

The suggestion which you mention has far-reaching implications, both from the point of view of law and policy. Your attention is called to the fact that undoubtedly many persons, formerly nationals of Axis states, have been naturalized in this country both before and after our entry into the war. It has been the historical policy of this Government to insist that the right of expatriation is, as stated in the joint resolution of Congress of July 27, 1868, “a natural and inherent right of all people”.53

It is the tentative view of the Department that the Commission should consider cases of war criminals regardless of any change in nationality such as is referred to above. The problems raised by such changes can be considered later, if and when the question arises.

Very truly yours,

Cordell Hull
  1. Not printed.
  2. 15 Stat. 223.