The Secretary of State to the Ambassador in France (Caffery)
1486. Bern’s 2132, April 11, to Dep’t repeated to Paris for Widewing B. Message communicated to this Government through Swiss states that German Government would be disposed to leave all Allied prisoners of war in the camps as Allies advance, provided Allied Governments obligate themselves not to return Prisoners of War so liberated to active duty against Germany.
Please communicate this proposal to the French authorities and inform them that this Government assumes that similar conditions are offered to the French Government and wishes to be informed whether the French Government intends to make favorable response as regards its participation.
In approaching French authorities you should impress upon them the great importance this Government attaches to the matter. In view of the rapidly deteriorating conditions in the camps and the extreme hardships to which all Allied prisoners of war are now subjected, the United States authorities consider that the offer of the German Government should be accepted. The Government of the United States hopes that the French Government will proceed likewise. It is considered that a maximum of three days should be allowed the French authorities for consideration and reply following your presentation of this matter to them.
The Department leaves to your discretion the manner of presentation of the foregoing. In the event of either an unfavorable reply or absence of reply within the three day period, you should inform Department urgently and at the same time the French Government should be left in no doubt that this Government is proceeding with the acceptance of the German proposal insofar as it concerns American prisoners of war.
It is understood that the British Ambassador8 is to be instructed to approach the French Government in a similar sense.
For your information the Soviet Government is also being informed of this proposal and the contemplated action of this Government.
- Alfred Duff Cooper.↩