740.00115 European War 1939/8155: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Minister in Switzerland (Harrison)

363. American Interests—Germany. Your 610, January 29.5 Department is addressing to Swiss Legation Washington6 a reply to German communication regarding Baden Baden exchange reading as follows:

“I. Lists of the Germans to be repatriated by the United States Government under the terms of the agreement now concluded have previously been sent to the Legation. To the extent that changes have [Page 788] occurred in the composition of these lists, revised lists will be sent to the Legation in the immediate future.

II. The new proposal of the German Government in the second part of its communication appears to bring into consideration the repatriation of additional individuals not heretofore considered within the framework of the exchange agreement. The Department of State is giving this matter serious consideration from the point of view of national security and the wishes of the specific individuals named by the German Government and of others who on compassionate grounds seem to have a meritorious claim to similar treatment. A cursory survey indicates that the great majority of the individuals named in the list attached to the German note will probably wish to be repatriated and that others are also seeking repatriation.

It is the desire of the United States Government that the exchange of the official groups proceed immediately and that the repatriation of additional individuals such as those referred to under this heading-be dealt with entirely separately. The United States Government is willing, however, to arrange for the transportation to Lisbon of such of these additional individuals as can be gotten ready in time to avail themselves of the transportation facilities established for the official exchange. Those who are found available for repatriation but who cannot get ready in time to avail themselves of the transportation facilities offered by the official exchange can undoubtedly be accommodated by other means. The United States Government assumes that the German Government is prepared to release and transport to Lisbon against the individuals being considered under this heading at least an equal number of bona fide nationals of the United States and the other American republics, but urgent confirmation of the German Government’s willingness to do so is requested. The United States Government will transmit to the Swiss Government in charge of American interests in Germany a list of individuals to whom the United States Government would like to have extended an opportunity for repatriation.7 It is expected that similar lists will be furnished by the other American republics concerned. Additionally the Swiss representatives in Germany and German-occupied territory may suggest other names of bona fide American nationals desiring repatriation on compassionate grounds or suggest substitutes for any who do not avail themselves of the opportunity offered.

III. In the interest of the Germans to be repatriated who have not so far been informed that their repatriation is under consideration and of the proper prosecution of the voyage, the motor vessel Gripsholm, the characteristics of which have already been communicated to the German Government in connection with other exchange movements, cannot leave New York to effect the present exchange until February 15, 1944. The exchange can then take place at Lisbon, commencing with February 24 or 25, depending upon the weather conditions encountered by the vessel. A further separate statement regarding the characteristics of the Gripsholm, its time of departure and the course to be followed will be made as quickly as possible.

Although the repatriation of the 132 German nationals from Brazil will necessarily have to take place by separate vessel, the United States [Page 789] Government expects in the interest of uniformity of treatment that the Brazilian nationals to be exchanged will depart from Germany with the remainder of the nationals involved in these negotiations and that arrangements be made by the German Government for them to be held, if necessary, in Portuguese territory until the arrival of the 132 Germans from Brazil completes the exchange with Brazil.

IV. Those German repatriates leaving the United States who have official status will be permitted to take with them without exception all their personal effects short of furniture and motor vehicles. They will be permitted to carry up to $300 in United States currency. Their baggage will not be subjected to examination.

The German repatriates who do not have official character will be permitted to take with them a maximum of $60 in United States currency and such personal baggage as is usually allowed on commercial passenger vessels. Their baggage will be subjected to normal Customs examination and during the course of that examination there will necessarily be enforced the usual war-time controls regarding the character of articles which may be exported in baggage. There will be no prohibition regarding export of foreign currency, of jewelry or of gold articles intended for personal adornment.

V. The United States Government will pay the cost of transporting the Germans to New York (having already paid the cost of their transportation from their former residences to their present place of detention). It is expected that the cost of transportation across the Atlantic will be determined and met as previously agreed in respect of the exchanges on the Drottningholm in 1942.8

VI. The United States Government is requesting the Portuguese Government to lend its facilities for the exchange at Lisbon and is providing the Portuguese Government with a statement of the conditions of the exchange as agreed upon. As the Portuguese Government has repeatedly stated that it will sanction an exchange only upon the request of both adverse governments party thereto, it is expected that the German Government will take parallel action.

It is requested that the foregoing be communicated promptly to the German Government and that the date of this note be specified in the Legation’s communication of transmittal to Bern. For the Legation’s information the Department of State is undertaking to proceed with all arrangements necessary to the departure of the exchange vessel on February 15 with the assumption that no unforeseen difficulties will arise.”

United States nationals and nationals of the other American republics who may be able to leave German-controlled territory in accordance with the present provisions of the exchange or such additional provisions as may be included therein may be granted by the appropriate Swiss representatives loans against their promissory notes in accordance with existing instructions. Loans advanced under this authorization should be sufficient only to meet minimum necessary incidental expenses in reaching Lisbon where, if funds are not provided [Page 790] them from other sources, such persons will be asked to sign promissory notes for ocean passage and for cost of sojourn while awaiting sailing.

It is essential, henceforth, that Lisbon be kept fully informed of all developments respecting this exchange which might affect performance of its duties. It is therefore requested that you repeat to Lisbon any telegrams or other communications to Department on the subject which you consider of interest to that office.

List referred to under II will follow. By bona fide nationals Department intends to cover only those whose citizenship has been satisfactorily established by protecting Power (in cases where that is necessary) after reference to represented government.

  1. Not printed; it transmitted text of note of January 28 from the German Legation in Switzerland, quoted in communication from the Swiss Minister, Supra.
  2. Note dated February 3, 1944.
  3. Telegrams 418, February 8, and 476, February 12, 1944, not printed.
  4. See telegram 880, April 7, 1942, to Bern, Foreign Relations, 1942, vol. i, p. 352.