740.0011 European War 1939/33815: Telegram

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

2086. Swiss press, 3rd, carried UP item datelined London, 2nd, saying American Headquarters issues following communiqué in part [Page 794] on Saturday’s air operations: “On account of extraordinary navigation difficulties and bad weather some bombs fell by mistake on Swiss territory”.

This announcement has had unfavorable reception. Terrestrial weather conditions Schaffhausen area were reported exceptionally clear with excellent visibility. If conditions in higher atmosphere were bad details thereof are essential if statement in communiqué to carry any conviction and not to be regarded as inept attempt at evasion.

Bern Bund 4th exclaims “Stick to the Truth, Please! and says Swiss public learns with greatest astonishment of announcement from official American headquarters England. Everyone in Switzerland believes bombs fell on Swiss territory because American flyers made mistake. But attempt headquarters to minimize severe misfortune and distortion facts must be energetically rejected. Weather over Schaffhausen enabled good visibility which even bombers themselves admitted, who certainly hit their objectives (station and industrial plants). Rhine Falls and Lake Constance offer exceptional possibilities especially by day so that unquestionably expert flyers should have easily recognized exact location.

It is painfully disturbing if American headquarters now talk about bad weather and instance of violation neutrality thereby not easier but more difficult because there arisen question of meniality [sic]. Also American press has played up ‘bad weather’ theme; bad weather from Swiss standpoint is important piece of wrong orientation of world public against which we raise protest.”

Gazette de Lausanne dismisses London communiqué with words “The excuse of ‘bad weather’ is worthless”.