702.6251R/70: Airgram

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

A–59. [For Murphy.] You’re A–55 September 18,14 A–78 October 22 and 2007 November 1515 and Department’s 78 December 7.16

One. For your information and guidance the United States Government has accorded to the following categories of property the treatment indicated below:

(A) Diplomatic and Consular Property of Enemy Governments.

I.
Property of this category includes such property in the United States of enemy governments as was employed by them in connection with their former diplomatic and consular representation in the United States, including diplomatic and consular premises and their furnishings, archives, vehicles, bank balances normally maintained in connection with diplomatic or consular representation, et cetera. This category does not include the following types of property: investments assets of institutions of a commercial character owned or controlled by enemy governments (such as bank accounts in the United States of central banks of enemy states); et cetera.
II.
Treatment accorded such property in the United States has been as follows: Generally, the departing diplomatic and consular personnel of an enemy state transfer to a representative of the protecting Power the custody of the property. Property not so delivered into the custody of a representative of the protecting Power is turned over to him by the United States Government. After accepting custody of the property, the representative of the protecting Power usually seals the premises, archives, et cetera, with the seal of his office or otherwise signifies that the property has been placed under his protection. The United States Government has consistently respected the seal of the protecting Power. Bank balances normally maintained in connection with diplomatic or consular representation [Page 1477]are similarly considered to be in the custody of the protecting Power. This does not, however, prevent them from being blocked or otherwise immobilized pursuant to war-time or other pertinent legislation of the United States.

(B) Property of Enemy Diplomatic and Consular Personnel.

I.
Property of this category includes such property, real or personal, as may be left in the United States by former diplomatic or consular personnel (whether officers, clerks, or miscellaneous employees) of enemy states, including residences, household furniture and effects, personal effects, vehicles, and reasonable bank balances. This category does not include property in the nature of investments.
II.
Treatment accorded property in the United States such as residences, furniture, and effects has been as follows: Generally, the departing diplomatic and consular personnel of an enemy state transfer to a representative of the protecting Power or to a private agent of their choice the custody of the property. Property not so treated is turned over to a representative of the protecting Power by the United States Government, which respects such property whether under the protection of the protecting Power or of a private agent. Reasonable bank balances are accorded similar treatment. However, like bank balances of enemy governments, they may be blocked or otherwise immobilized pursuant to war-time or other pertinent legislation of the United States. Vehicles are also accorded similar treatment. Departing enemy personnel have not been permitted to take with them personally-owned automobiles. However, the United States Government has freely permitted representatives of the protecting Powers to sell such automobiles, to apply the proceeds from such sales to the liquidation of personal obligations of the departing personnel, and to deposit any remainder in blocked bank accounts. The United States Government reserves the right to sequester property of the present category (covered by paragraph One (B) I and II) that would serve an important purpose in the prosecution of the war. In that event, the following procedure would be observed:
(a)
A complete inventory would be taken;
(b)
A representative of the protecting Power would be given a copy of the inventory and an opportunity to verify the inventory;
(c)
Proper measures would be taken to assure the preservation of the sequestered property;
(d)
At the termination of the sequestration, a representative of the protecting Power would again be given an opportunity to verify the inventory. So far, no property in the United States of the present category has been sequestered.

Two. The United States Government would like to see diplomatic and consular property of the categories described above respected, [Page 1478]whether in the territory of the opposing belligerents or in the territory of third Powers. At the same time, it reserves the right to consider further the extent to which it may wish to modify its course of action with respect to diplomatic and consular property of enemy states and that of their diplomatic and consular personnel (a) in specific retaliation for failure on the part of enemy states to observe reciprocally a similar standard of conduct with respect to diplomatic and consular property of the United States and that of American diplomatic and consular personnel; or (b) in situations where the premises or property, allegedly diplomatic in character, are found to be otherwise.

Three. The Department hopes that, pursuant to the policy indicated above, the German consular property (money, gold, and other valuables) in the custody of the Finance Officer of the Allied Forces in North Africa, or an equivalent credit, may eventually be delivered into the custody of the Spanish representative at Algiers17 in charge of German interests there, as were the premises and furnishings of the former German Consulate General at Algiers and property of the former German Consul General18 and Vice Consul there.19 However, pending the receipt of further instructions informing you that the German Government has made a satisfactory reply to the representations of the United States Government with respect to the maltreatment of diplomatic and consular property of the United States at Vichy and Tunis, respectively, and that of American diplomatic and consular personnel formerly at those places and at Paris, the transfer of custody to the Spanish representative should be deferred. Meanwhile, you are authorized to accept custody of the property from the Finance Officer. In informing the Director of Blockade at Algiers of the course of action desired by your Government, you should state that you are not required to retain the property in its present form if to do so would be contrary to French law but that, in such event, the currency, coin, gold, et cetera may be disposed of as provided by French law and a corresponding credit established in a separate account in your name as representative of the United States Government acting as provisional custodian of the German property it represents. Before actually converting any of the property, however, you should inform the Department of the basis of conversion and await further instructions. Please report fully upon further developments.

Hull
  1. Not printed. Mr. Murphy requested instructions regarding treatment of the contents of the safe of the German Consulate General at Algiers held by Col. L. H. Sims, Chief Finance Officer, Allied Force Headquarters. Mr. Murphy added that Col. Sims desired to forward the contents to the Alien Property Custodian. A marginal note, signed B[reckinridge] L[ong], reads: “Tell them to hold on a while. Should go to Spanish Consul I believe.” (702.6251R/70)
  2. Telegram 2007 not printed; in this telegram Mr. Murphy informed the Department that the Director of Blockade had recently appointed a sequestrator for sums held for the German Consul at Algiers. The sequestrator, finding quantities of gold and silver on deposit with the American Consul, desired to be in general charge of rights, interests and property of the German Consulate. Mr. Murphy requested instructions. (702.6251R/81)
  3. Not printed; it contained instructions to Mr. Murphy relative to the disposition of money found in the German consular office. See section Three of this telegram.
  4. E. Somoza y Tenreiro.
  5. Peter Pfeiffer.
  6. Hans Schwarzmann.