The Secretary of State to the Secretary of War (Stimson)
My Dear Mr. Secretary: I refer to your letters of April 5 and May 24, 1943, your reference MID 000.2 (5–22–43),20 and to previous correspondence concerning the policy of the United States Government with respect to diplomatic and consular property of enemy governments and the property of enemy diplomatic and consular personnel.
I am sending you herewith for convenient reference a paraphrase of a telegram from the American Mission at Algiers21 concerning the treatment to be accorded to personnel and property at Rome of the categories mentioned above and a paraphrase of this Department’s reply.22 I am also sending you a copy of an airgram to the Mission at Algiers23 recapitulating in general terms the policy of the United States Government with respect to such property and indicating in particular the disposition to be made of certain items of German consular property at Algiers.
Our position with respect to diplomatic and consular property of enemy governments and the property of enemy diplomatic and consular personnel is subject to modification in particular instances. There have already been violations of our diplomatic and consular property, particularly in the Far East,24 and we have for our part not fully maintained our own high standard, particularly in North Africa.25 However, I believe that you will agree with me that any further departures from our policy of respect for such enemy property should be determined by the Government at Washington in the light of all the known circumstances, and not by officers in the field. I therefore suggest that enemy diplomatic and consular property, wherever captured, be accorded the following treatment:
- If it is in the custody of the protecting Power, that custody should be respected in every way.
- If it is not in the custody of the protecting Power, the property should be safeguarded without examination until such time as the Government may direct that it be delivered into the custody of the protecting Power or otherwise disposed of in the light of the then existing circumstances.
In either event, it is desirable that the Government receive a full report for its consideration.
Your comments would be appreciated. I should also be grateful if you would send me copies of such instructions as may be issued on this subject.
- None printed.↩
- Telegram 271, December 28, 1943, p. 1473.↩
- Telegram 137, January 14, p. 1474.↩
- Airgram A–59, February 1, supra.↩
- Early in December 1942 the Department was aware that the Japanese had seized archives at the Consulate General, Canton. In April 1943 the Embassy archives at Peiping were confiscated. The Department’s protest of May 1, 1943 (not printed), was casually dismissed. Other violations consisted in the occupation of premises at Nanking, with the sale of certain furnishings, and the seizure of archives from the Consulates General at Tientsin, Hankow, and Shanghai, and from the Consulates at Amoy, Swatow, Tsinan, and Saigon. For a summary, see despatch 7485 from Bern, March 6, 1944, vol. v, p. 1178.↩
- Complaints of their treatment were registered with the Department of State by Italian Consul General Arrivabene and German Consul General Pfeiffer after their seizure in Algiers.↩