840.414/5–2545: Telegram

The Acting Secretary of State to the Ambassador in Italy ( Kirk )

961. German public property and archives outside Germany are under custody of four Powers in control of Germany and should be turned over to them.

General practice regarding custody such property is for Govt of country in which property is found to act as trustee for four Powers. Where a Govt declines trusteeship representatives of the four have assumed responsibility. Though Dept is fully appreciative of Italian status as cobelligerent, Dept does not feel that Italian Govt, still technically at war with US, should act as trustee of German official property and archives in Italy, in behalf of four Powers. (Urtel 1405, May 25.39) In circumstances Allied Commission should assume responsibility for this property in behalf of the four Powers in control of Germany.

[Page 1148]

Keeping your Soviet and French colleagues fully informed you should urge Allied Commission to take possession of the property from the Swiss.

Examination of German archives should commence as soon as your facilities permit and in so far as possible avoiding transportation expense.

If necessary incur charges four Govts should share equally in responsibility for same, in which event you should request Dept for allotment covering your share.

Keep Dept currently informed.


[Most nations offered no objections to request of the Allies for immediate access to German archives found within their borders, but some offered conditions. For example, Bolivia took possession of German archives and undertook to turn them over to the American Embassy subject to retention by Bolivia of those documents of particular interest to herself (840.414/5–2145). Czechoslovakia promised to make cursory survey of archives left by Germans and offered to bring to attention of Allies those documents that might be of particular interest (840.414/12–1945). Argentina at first refused to release archives to any foreign power but soon after agreed to permit the United States and the United Kingdom to examine the files (800.414/6–645). Panama agreed to turn over archives with understanding that the information obtained from a study of them be disseminated on basis of reciprocity and that they later be returned to Panama (840.414/5–1945). Some of the Latin American nations indicated they would give access only after a preliminary examination by a commission, and followed a policy of procrastination.]

  1. Not printed.