Memorandum of Conversation, by the Assistant Secretary of State (Dunn)
The Swiss Minister11 came in to see me this morning and took up the matter of Swiss trade with Germany, which has been the subject of several calls by the Swiss Minister upon officials of this Department and other departments recently. His presentation of the Swiss case was very much along the lines of pointing out the necessity for Switzerland maintaining her neutral position in the war and the benefits the Allies received from her neutral position by reason of Switzerland being able to assist in the inspection and care of the Allied war prisoners held by Germany and Japan.
Mr. Bruggmann further stressed the fact that Switzerland was a party to an international treaty which prevented the Swiss Government from stopping the transit rail traffic entirely, if such traffic had not the character of war implements or war material or war munitions. He said that coal had never been classified as a war material and it was therefore impossible to stop the north to south shipments of coal from Germany to Italy entirely.[Page 773]
I said that we fully recognized the neutrality of Switzerland and respected the Swiss decision to continue her neutral position but that what we were asking did not in any way involve the question of Swiss neutrality; that we were asking and would continue to ask reductions in the shipment of goods to Germany and the transit shipment of coal to Italy and that the Swiss might just as well understand that as the war changed our demands would change; that we were fully determined to insist on the reduction of shipments from Switzerland to Germany to the lowest possible level and on drastic reduction of coal shipments from Germany to Italy.
Mr. Bruggmann entered into a long discussion of the technicalities of the Swiss position, but I maintained the Swiss could expect nothing less from the United States than insistence on the reductions I had described above.
- Charles Bruggmann.↩