740.00119 European War/12–2944

The British Embassy to the Department of State


Ref. 3132/18/44

On December 18th, Mr. Gore-Booth88 of the British Embassy discussed with the legal adviser to the Department89 the instructions which His Majesty’s Government in the United Kingdom proposed to send to His Majesty’s Representatives in certain countries on the subject of German ships and aircraft seeking refuge in neutral territory.90 (See the Embassy’s aide-mémoire of September 23, 1944).

Mr. Hackworth suggested that the wording of the proposed instructions was open to objection on the ground that there is at present no legal obligation on the governments concerned to intern German ships and aircraft pending their disposal by the United Nations, and said that the Department preferred to phrase its instructions to United States representatives as follows: “you are requested to bring the matter to the attention of the government to which you are accredited and to say that the Government of the United States has no doubt [Page 161] that that government will recognize its special responsibility not only to intern such ships and aircraft but also to preserve them intact pending their ultimate disposition”.
His Majesty’s Government accept this amendment and their instructions to British representatives will be amended accordingly.
His Majesty’s Government also agree with the suggestion made by Mr. Hackworth that the Soviet Government should be given advance warning of the proposed action. They suggest January 20th as the date for the proposed démarche and would be glad to know as soon as possible whether this date is agreeable to the Department, in order that the necessary instructions may be sent to His Majesty’s Ambassador at Moscow.
With reference to further suggestions made by Mr. Hackworth, His Majesty’s Government are considering whether a communication should be made to the Government of Eire but do not think that the démarche to the other governments need be delayed pending a decision on this point. Finally, His Majesty’s Government agree that the Saudi Arabian Government should be included in the démarche.
  1. Paul H. Gore-Booth, First Secretary of the British Embassy.
  2. Green H. Hackworth.
  3. Memorandum of conversation, dated December 23, not printed.