711.62114 Sick/342: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Minister in Switzerland (Harrison)24

1267. American Interests—Germany—Repatriation Sick and Wounded. Your 1969, March 31.25 Request Swiss Government urgently to communicate following reply to the German Government to reach that Government before the close of business on April 14.

“The Government of the United States notes the agreement of the German Government to a further exchange of seriously sick and seriously wounded prisoners of war and surplus protected personnel. The Government of the United States proposes May 17 as the earliest date for the commencement of the exchange in view of the necessity of transporting German prisoners of war held in the United States and Canada to the port of exchange.

The Government of the United States would prefer for practical reasons that the operation be carried out at one place rather than two and in this connection draws the attention of the German Government to the fact that a substantial number of the German repatriables are already assembled in Northwest Africa and that arrangements are in hand to transport the remainder from North America also to Northwest Africa in time for the exchange. It would, therefore, be most convenient if the exchange could be effected in that area and, in appreciation of the German Government’s suggestion that Lisbon involves an unnecessarily long journey by rail, the Government of the United States suggests Barcelona as an alternative.

The Government of the United States notes with regret that the German Government is not at present willing to discuss the question of further exchanges.26

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The Government of the United States notes the agreement of the German Government to the use of the Gripsholm for the exchange as well as for the forwarding of next-of-kin parcels and prisoner of war mail. To meet the German Government’s requirements in regard to the safe conduct of the vessel, necessary information including the route to be followed is being transmitted in a separate message today.27

If the German Government decides to make use of a ship or ships in this connection, the Government of the United States is ready on behalf of itself and its Allies to grant safe conducts for this purpose, subject to an agreement as to the particular ship or ships and to the route selected.

As soon as the German Government accepts either Lisbon or Barcelona as the port of exchange,28 the Government of the United States will request the Portuguese or Spanish Governments to cooperate. It is expected that the German Government for its part will do likewise.

The Government of the United States notes the agreement of the German Government to include in the exchange prisoners of war of Category II B29 and its undertaking to communicate the nominal rolls of American repatriables 10 days before the date of the exchange. In order to insure that all American prisoners of war who have been duly nominated shall be examined medically in time for those approved for repatriation to be included in the exchange, the Government of the United States expects the German Government to employ the procedure indicated in paragraph 3 of the Department’s telegram no. 3081 dated December 10, 1943,30 which is already being followed by the Government of the United States.

In order that final preparations may be concluded, the Government of the United States requests that the decision of the German Government with regard to the date and port fixed for the exchange be made known by April 21.

The Government of the United States understands that the British Government is addressing a substantially similar reply to the German Government.”

Please acknowledge the receipt of this message immediately.

  1. Repeated to London on the same date as telegram 2948.
  2. Not printed; it transmitted the substance of a reply from the German Government to proposals by the United States Government concerning repatriation of sick and wounded prisoners of war and protected personnel (711.62114–Sick/342).
  3. The United States Government had proposed that similar exchanges of sick and wounded prisoners of war be conducted without further negotiation at regular intervals of 3 months beginning with 3 months from the proposed May 17 exchange. (Telegram 642, February 25, to Bern; 711.62114 Sick/244.)
  4. Telegram 1266, April 13, not printed.
  5. According to telegram 2609 of April 24 from Bern, the German Government agreed to proposals of the United States and British Governments to effect exchange of seriously wounded on May 17 at Barcelona (740.00115 European War-1939/401).
  6. See model agreement annexed to the Geneva Convention of July 27, 1929, relative to the treatment of prisoners of war, Foreign Relations, 1929, vol. i, pp. 336, 363.
  7. Not printed: the United States proposed that on a reciprocal basis the qualifications for repatriation of prisoners of war whom a mixed medical commission had not been able to examine in time to permit their inclusion in the exchange operation should be determined by the medical doctors of the detaining power and that prisoners qualified for repatriation in this manner should be included in the exchange (711.62114 Sick/158).