762.51114/4–1845: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Ambassador in France ( Caffery )

1584. Reurtel 1930 and 1939, April 18. Inform French authorities that the Government of the United States considered it necessary for reasons set forth in Department’s 1486 of April 15 [14], to accept for its part the German proposal. While the position of the French Government in this matter is appreciated, we are concerned lest its failure to take parallel action may provide the German Government with grounds for withdrawing the offer or delaying action.

You are requested therefore to again approach the French on an urgent basis placing emphasis on the fact that the British, Soviet and United States Governments for their part have accepted the German proposal.

It is noted that the primary reason for the French decision appears to be their reluctance to agree not to use prisoners recovered under this arrangement in active duty. In this connection you should convey discreetly the following observations to the appropriate French authorities: The United States authorities have consistently interpreted active military service as used in Article 74 of the Convention to mean service in combat duty. This interpretation is being applied with respect to the present German proposal and does not prevent the use of prisoners so recovered in other military duty, nor require their separation from military service. French authorities may wish to consider a similar interpretation and to give further thought to the German proposal in this light. Furthermore, since the German proposal made no mention of the Far East, the United States Government in accepting the offer did not raise the question.