740.00116 E.W./9–1644: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Minister in Ireland ( Gray )

175. On July 30, 1943, the President issued a press statement in regard to war criminals in which he declared that he found it difficult to believe that any neutral country would give asylum to or extend protection to any such persons, and that this Government would regard the action of a neutral Government in affording asylum to Axis leaders or their tools as inconsistent with the principles for which the United Nations are fighting.

The purpose of this Government was not to question the right of asylum as such, but was, of course, to appeal to neutral countries to decline to admit to their countries Axis leaders and their criminal henchmen. The President pointed out that it is 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.

The wheels of justice are now turning rapidly and the Axis leaders and their tools will undoubtedly seek haven in any country where they think they may have any possibility of escaping justice. This Government has accordingly approached the Governments of Switzerland, Sweden, Portugal, Spain, and the Argentine, asking that they give assurance that they will decline to admit to their respective territories Axis leaders and their tools. Although the Nazi leaders may be less likely to seek refuge in Ireland than in the countries bordering Germany, the possibility that they will seek admission to Ireland or will land from plane or submarine without permission cannot be eliminated. Would you therefore approach the Irish authorities at once and ask their assurances in the sense of the foregoing. You are authorized in your discretion to leave with them an aide-mémoire in the sense of this telegram.

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It is hardly necessary to emphasize to the Irish authorities that the American people would not understand the extension of asylum or protection to any of the persons whom they hold responsible for this war. We have already received favorable response from the Swedish, Spanish and Swiss Governments and are awaiting further word from the Portuguese and Argentine Governments. We have every confidence that the Irish Government will wish to give assurance that it will refuse to admit to Irish territory Axis leaders and their criminal henchmen, and that if any such person should reach Ireland he will be returned to his own country or made available for justice.

Please request an early reply. We are preparing a statement for the press which will indicate the attitudes of other neutral nations, and we of course wish to include Irish assurances in this announcement.