711.62114 Sick/8–2344: Telegram

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

2917. American Interests—Germany—Repatriation POWs. Reurtel 5501, August 23. Please request Swiss to inform the German Government that the communication regarding surplus protected personnel was received August 23, the date upon which the Gripsholm sailed in accordance with previous assurances given the German Government.

The United States Government explained fully in its telegram no. 2682, August 4 the situation with regard to the identification of surplus protected personnel held in the United States. The reply of the German Government to the proposals set forth in Department’s 2682, which reply accepted September 8 as the exchange date at Goteborg (Legation’s 5266, August 13), made no further reference to surplus protected personnel in American custody. The United States Government, therefore, proceeded with the repatriation operation on the assumption that the German Government fully understood the situation and comprehended the difficulties encountered by the American authorities in identifying German protected personnel. In this connection, it is to be noted that the examination then in progress of those claiming protected status was based upon the official identification documents furnished by the German Government which were received by this Government July 28, 1944. This examination is still continuing and will not be concluded for several weeks. Upon its conclusion, the German Government will be informed of the total number of surplus protected personnel in the custody of the United States Armed Forces.

[Page 809]

In accordance with the assurances contained in paragraph 5 of the Department’s 2682, all available accommodations aboard the Gripsholm which were not needed for the return from the North American continent of German seriously sick and seriously wounded were filled with the protected personnel who at that time were found to be surplus. Thus the one hundred protected personnel placed aboard the Gripsholm were included as earnest of this Government’s good faith although the examination referred to above was not completed prior to the departure of the Gripsholm.

The Government of the United States renews its assurances to the German Government that protected personnel which the present survey may reveal in excess of the number this Government is permitted to retain, will be returned as soon as possible.