The Secretary of State to the Chargé in Switzerland (Huddle)
4060. The following comment is provided for your background information and for possible use only to the extent that comment from Gorgé or from the Swiss Foreign Office may require you to discuss the points mentioned:
- In so framing the proposal contained in its 3933, November 18, midnight, as to provide for the inclusion of some British Commonwealth and Netherlands prisoners of war, the Department was acting with the approval of and at the request of the British and Netherlands Governments for which it is also acting in respect of this particular proposal. In this connection, however, as bearing on the proportions of respective Allied personnel to be included in the exchange you should be guided in your discussion by the last paragraph of this telegram.
- It is considered that on grounds of national prestige it may prove difficult to obtain Japanese acceptance of the principle of the new proposal. For that reason suggestions regarding such concrete details as the point of exchange, means of transportation and the proportion of American, British and Netherlands prisoners of war to be included, were not discussed in the initial communication in order not to inject practical objections into Japanese consideration of the scheme. A premature effort to establish a ratio between the prisoners of war of different nationalities might for instance confront the Japanese with such difficult problems in assembling and transporting prisoners from inconvenient areas as to make the basic proposal entirely unacceptable without further consideration.
- If the Japanese evince any disposition whatever to discuss the proposal, it will become urgently necessary to find out from which areas they are most disposed to repatriate prisoners and the approximate distribution of prisoners by nationality in those areas. Such information is essential to the proper development of the negotiations and to a solution of the problem referred to in the last sentence of the preceding paragraph. Accordingly, if Gorgé’s initial report indicates any possibility of success, please ask the Swiss to have him endeavor urgently to obtain this information.
- It is assumed that the Japanese will wish not to make any public announcements on the subject if they accept the proposal and that they may wish that the transfers of Allied personnel necessary to effect the exchange have the appearance of transfers for Japanese convenience and not of evacuation or of repatriation. Even if this [Page 1098]extends to a desire not to tell the prisoners of war that they are to be repatriated, there will be no objection.
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