711.62114 Sick/12–2644: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Chargé in Switzerland (Huddle)

4341. Your 8150 December 15. American Interests Germany—Repatriation Sick and Wounded. Please ask the Swiss to communicate the following reply to German Government:

“The United States Government notes the agreement of the German Government to a further exchange of sick and wounded prisoners of war to take place on January 17, 1945. The United States Government agrees for its part to carry out the exchange using Switzerland as the exchange point.

Since the transmission of Department’s 4108 of December 5, it has developed that the vessels which the United States Government intends to utilize in this exchange will not be able to leave New York before January 6, 1945. It will, therefore, not be possible to transport all of the 2250 German prisoners of war and civilians now held in continental United States in time to be exchanged on January 17. However, by the use of United States hospital shipping it will be possible to transport 700 of this number in time to be exchanged on that date. In addition, the United States Government proposes to return via Switzerland on January 17, the approximately 600 German prisoners of war now held in the custody of the United States Government in the Mediterranean Area who have been found eligible for repatriation. It is understood that the British Commonwealth Governments [Page 822] will propose the exchange of about 500 German repatriables held in their custody in the Mediterranean Area through Switzerland on that date. There will thus be available for exchange via Switzerland on January 17 a total of approximately 1800 German sick and wounded prisoners of war.

The remainder of the German repatriables and civilians held in United States custody in the United States and by American armed forces overseas will be repatriated to Germany via Switzerland on January 25. This group will consist of approximately 1250 German prisoners of war and 850 civilians.

The United States Government requests the agreement of the German Government to the carrying out of this exchange in two operations on January 17 and January 25, as described above, and further the assurance of the German Government that on the occasion of the January 17 exchange it will return Allied repatriables in substantially the same number as the German repatriables then being returned, in order that the most economic use may be made of available transportation facilities. The assurance of the German Government is also requested that it will return on January 25 the American civilians and all those American prisoners of war entitled to repatriation who were not returned in the January 17 operation.

The United States Government expects to be informed immediately as to the total numbers of Americans who will be returned on January 17 and January 25 respectively, in order that appropriate arrangements may be made for their reception and disposition. The German Government is requested, for the same reasons, to include details as to the numbers of mental, litter or ambulatory cases. Similar information with respect to German repatriables in United States custody will be forwarded shortly.

The German Government in its reply to the United States Government’s proposals does not state whether it will transmit nominal rolls 10 days prior to the exchange dates. The United States Government again requests the assurance of the German Government that it will do so. The United States Government reiterates its prior assurances in this regard.”

When you transmit foregoing to Swiss Government please ask it to request German Government to reply urgently in order that the necessary technical arrangements for these exchange operations may be concluded without delay.