800.515/11–245: Telegram

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

4603. From Mr. Petitpierre I received yesterday aide-mémoire relative to Legation’s aide-mémoire of Oct. 15 (Legtels 4431 and 4432, Oct. 1734 repeated to London, Paris, Libson, Stockholm and Madrid) which follows in translation:

Federal Council cannot admit that attitude it has had up to now regarding German assets in Switzerland not in line with engagements which result from agreement March 8, 1945.35 It notes that the requests made by US Legation in its aide-mémoire of Oct 15 cannot be based on clauses of this agreement but go beyond what had been agreed upon at the time.
Federal Council as already stated in its note of Sept. 25 (cf. Legtel 4236, Sept. 28) does not discern juridical basis of Allied demands. It would be glad to receive necessary clarification in this connection. Nevertheless, how Allies, as occupying powers of Germany, could invoke rights which, if put forward by regular German Govt, would never have been accepted by Confederation can be questioned.
Federal Council declares itself once again disposed inform Allies as completely as possible of measures taken or to be taken by competent Federal authorities regarding blocking and census of German assets. It cannot however accept that decisions to be taken by Federal authorities in this regard be submitted to Allies prior approval.
In connection with assets taken illegally or under duress as well as those brought into Switzerland without permission Federal Council as stated in above-mentioned note intends neglect no means of contributing to restoration of legitimate ownership. To this end Federal authorities at present preparing decree providing that assets in question now in Switzerland or in Principality of Liechtenstein should be returned their legitimate owners whoever individual holding them may be and without consideration date on which they were taken. Special tribunal would be instituted take cognizance of actions for recovery of property bearing on such assets.
Safe deposit boxes leased by German nationals in Swiss banks will be opened and inspected.
Total result of census German assets Switzerland will be known by Federal Council only second half November and it will be communicated soon as possible to Allied Powers. Meanwhile Federal Council not in position make statement on amount these assets or manner in which they could be disposed of with exception assets mentioned in 4 above.

Repeated London, Paris, Lisbon, Stockholm, and Madrid. Mann36 requests Treasury be informed.

  1. Latter not printed.
  2. See footnote 20, p. 862.
  3. James Mann, U.S. Treasury Department representative in Switzerland.