The Director of the Office of European Affairs (Dunn) to the Director of the Civil Affairs Division, War Department (Hilldring)

My Dear General Hilldring: Reference is made to the letter of February 18, 1944 sent to me jointly by you and Captain H. L. Pence, U.S.N., Officer in Charge, Occupied Areas Section, Navy Department, [Page 1196] requesting the recommendations and advice of the State Department in connection with planning for civil affairs administration in the Far East and Pacific areas.

I shall communicate with you later regarding civil affairs administration in Japan, the mandated islands and the Japanese occupied areas other than the Netherlands East Indies.

The problem in the Netherlands Indies is complicated by the fact that Sumatra is under the theater command of Lord Mountbatten, while the remaining islands are under General MacArthur.81 As arrangements for civil administration and jurisdiction in Sumatra have already been the subject of preliminary informational conversations between the Netherlands Government and the British Government, and the Civil Affairs Agreement to be concluded with respect to Sumatra is primarily a concern of the British military authorities, the following discussion is confined to the arrangement to be instituted in the Netherlands Indies areas which will be under the theater command of General MacArthur.

The Netherlands Constitution has abolished any juridical distinction between the European territories of the Netherlands Empire and the former “overseas” or “colonial” territories. Constitutionally, therefore, the “Kingdom of the Netherlands” is an integral whole consisting of four administrative areas: the European area; Surinam; Curaçao; and the Netherlands Indies.

Under normal conditions, the Crown is charged by the Netherlands Constitution with the “supreme administration” over the East Indies, while the “general administration” of the East Indies is entrusted to the Governor General. Since the Japanese occupation of the Indies, both the supreme administration and the general administration of Indies affairs rests with the Royal Netherlands Government in London acting with the advice of various agencies thereof such as the Ministry for Overseas Territories, the Ministry for the Coordination of Warfare of the Kingdom, and the Netherlands Indies Commission for Australia and New Zealand now established in Melbourne. The latter group is in no sense “a Government in exile” but merely a group of administrative officials who are occupied with plans for the reestablishment of Netherlands governmental authority in the Indies after the liberation of the area. Under existing circumstances, therefore, it may be assumed that any agreement with respect to the jurisdiction over and administration of civil affairs in the Netherlands Indies will, on the Netherlands side, be negotiated and signed by representatives of the Netherlands Government in London.

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Preliminary conversations with respect to civil administration in the Netherlands Indies have already taken place between representatives of the Netherlands Government and representatives of the State Department and the Civil Affairs Division of the War Department. Dr. van Mook, Lieutenant Governor General of the Indies and a member of the Netherlands Cabinet, is now on his way to Australia for discussions with General MacArthur after which he intends to present for our consideration a draft civil affairs agreement. We understand that this agreement will be based upon the principles incorporated in the agreement in regard to the European territories of the Kingdom82 with such minor modifications in detail as may be necessary because of the special conditions in the Indies, including the separation of the area into two theaters of operation, one under British command and the other under American command.

The Department of State is of the opinion that arrangements with the Netherlands Government for civil administration and jurisdiction of the Netherlands Indies territory (except Sumatra) liberated by an Allied Expeditionary Force under American command should observe the following principles:

Full freedom of action of the Supreme Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Force should be insured.
In general, the principles already agreed upon by the United States and Netherlands Governments with respect to civil administration and jurisdiction in the European territory of the Kingdom of the Netherlands would seem to furnish a satisfactory working basis for the development of a corresponding agreement with respect to the Netherlands Indies.
Arrangements for the civil administration of liberated Netherlands Indies territory should be predicated on the assumption that the exercise of all attributes of sovereignty will be resumed by the Netherlands Government as soon as the situation, in the judgment of the Supreme Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Force, permits. However, in any military agreement of the nature under consideration no commitments should be made which would prejudice the right of the Government of the United States to bring up either prior to or after the resumption of sovereign rights by the Netherlands Government certain proposals for discussion and agreement of a general character which it may believe to be of rightful concern to the United States Government and to all governments which have subscribed to the principles of the Atlantic Charter,83 and to the Four Nation Declaration at Moscow84 and certain particular proposals which may be of special mutual concern to the people of the Netherlands Empire and the people of the United States.
The Supreme Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Force should be entirely free to select his own chief civil affairs officer, although appointment of an American might be preferable in that it would facilitate the execution of the Supreme Commander’s will.
In view of the complex and specialized problems involved in the administration of the affairs of the over 70,000,000 persons in the Indies, Netherlands civil affairs officers and loyal local officials should be consulted and used freely in the civil affairs administration so far as is compatible with the successful conduct of military operations.
Jurisdiction over civilians in the Indies owing allegiance to the Netherlands Government and members of the Netherlands Armed Forces accompanying the Allied Forces should be granted to the Netherlands civil and military courts to the fullest extent compatible with the freedom of action of the Supreme Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Force in the conduct of military operations.
Jurisdiction over American military personnel should be reserved to American military courts.

I assume that as in the case of the Netherlands (European), Belgian and Norwegian Agreements negotiations with respect to the Netherlands Indies Civil Affairs Agreement will continue to be conducted through military channels with the advice of the State Department on political points when requested by the War or Navy Departments.85

The foregoing observations are transmitted with particular reference to paragraph numbered five of the memorandum dated February 18, 1944 and entitled “Preliminary Political and Policy Questions Bearing on Civil Affairs Planning for the Far East and Pacific Areas” which was sent to me as an enclosure to the letter of the same date under reply.

I am sending a copy of this letter to Captain Pence.

Sincerely yours,

James Clement Dunn
  1. Gen. Douglas MacArthur, Supreme Commander of Allied Forces in Southwest Pacific.
  2. Agreement between the United States and the Netherlands respecting arrangements for civil administration and jurisdiction in Netherlands’ territory liberated by an Allied expeditionary force, signed at London, May 16, 1944, Department of State Treaties and Other International Acts Series No. 2212; 2 United States Treaties and Other International Agreements 601.
  3. August 14, 1941, Foreign Relations, 1941, vol. i, p. 367.
  4. October 30, 1943, ibid., 1943, vol. i, p. 755.
  5. For agreement signed on December 10, see p. 1286.