740.00114 EW/3–945

Memorandum by the Chairman of the State–War–Navy Coordinating Committee (Dunn) to the Secretary of State 77

The Commanding General, United States Army Forces, Mediterranean Theater of Operations,78 has asked the Joint Chiefs of Staff for certain information with regard to the agreement entered into 11 February 1945 between the United States and the U.S.S.R. with regard [Page 1076] to liberated prisoners of war and civilians.79 Specifically lie has requested information concerning:

What test is to be applied in determining what persons are within the category “all Soviet citizens liberated” in Article 1 of the agreement.
What is the status of those liberated persons who are nationals of Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania, and Poland east of the 1939 line of demarcation (or of the Curzon Line80).
What is the status of persons already liberated who are claimants to citizenship of countries other than the U.S.S.R. but who are now under the control of U.S.S.R. and whose claim to citizenship has already been accepted by representatives of the country whose citizenship they claim.

The War Department has been informed of the policy adopted by the Department of State as set forth in the Acting Secretary of State’s note of 1 February 1945 to the Soviet Embassy concerning those prisoners of war of Soviet nationality, captured in German uniform, who object to repatriation to the U.S.S.R., and has been further informed by representatives of the Department of State that the policy set forth in that note has not been altered by the agreement of 11 February. In the light of these circumstances and subject to a definitive interpretation by the Department of State of the agreement of 11 February, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, with whom the Secretaries of War and the Navy81 concur, have tentatively construed the agreement as requiring the following action by the United States:

The return to the Soviet Union of all Soviet military personnel held as prisoners of war by the Germans and liberated while in prisoner-of-war status from German prisoner of war camps.
The return to the Soviet Union of all liberated civilians (not physically within the territorial limits of the United States) who are Soviet citizens.
The return to the Soviet Union of Soviet citizens captured in German uniform, other than those who demand that they be retained as German prisoners of war and thus come under the Geneva Convention.
Since up to the present the United States Government has not formally recognized any territorial changes brought about by the present war in Europe, Latvians, Estonians, Lithuanians and Poles whose homes are east of the 1939 line of demarcation or of the Curzon Line cannot be repatriated to the Soviet Union unless they affirmatively claim Soviet citizenship.
To the extent practicable, the return to United States control should be sought of individuals falling under the provisions of subparagraph d. above who do not affirmatively claim Soviet citizenship but who have been hitherto erroneously turned over to the control of the Soviet authorities.

It will be appreciated if the Department of State will inform the Secretaries of War and the Navy as a matter of urgency whether it concurs in the foregoing.

Since agreements in identical terms were entered into by this Government and the British Government with the U.S.S.R., and since these agreements will be administered by the respective United States and British commanders in combined theaters, the Department of State may wish to give consideration to coordinating the course of action described above with the British Government. In this connection it is requested that the Department of State advise the Secretaries of War and the Navy whether, in its opinion, the foregoing course of action may appropriately be taken by the United States Government without awaiting such coordination, or should be deferred pending coordination.82

When the course of action to be taken has been finally determined, appropriate instructions accordingly will be communicated to the commanding generals of the interested theaters and to other interested military agencies.

For the State–War–Navy Coordinating Committee:
James Clement Dunn
  1. This memorandum, designated SWNCC 46/1, was considered and approved by the State–War–Navy Coordinating Committee at their meeting on March 10, 1945, and was forwarded to the Secretary of State.
  2. Lt. Gen. Joseph T. McNarney.
  3. General MeNarney’s request for information was set forth in military communication FX 28712, February 17, 1945, not printed. A similar request for information by the Displaced Persons Branch of Supreme Headquarters, Allied Expeditionary Force, was transmitted to the Department of State in telegram 2207, March 3, 1945, from London, not printed. (740.00114 EW/3–345)
  4. For the origin and a description of the Curzon Line, see Foreign Relations, The Paris Peace Conference, 1919, vol. xiii, pp. 793794. See also Foreign Relations, 1944, vol. iii, p. 1220, footnote 15.
  5. Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson and Secretary of the Navy James V. Forrestal.
  6. In identic letters to Secretary of War Stimson and Secretary of the Navy Forrestal, dated March 24, 1945, the Acting Secretary of State concurred in the proposed action as set forth in this memorandum. The Acting Secretary of State’s letter also enclosed a copy of a note to the British Ambassador, dated March 23, 1945, notifying him of the action to be taken by the United States Government. The Acting Secretary of State’s letter added that it was the opinion of the Department of State that the proposed action could be taken immediately without awaiting a reply from the British Government with respect to its interpretation of the agreement with the Soviet Union with regard to liberated prisoners of war and civilians. (740.00114 EW/3–945) Telegram 2509, March 31, to London, repeated to Paris as 1283, to Caserta as 279, and to Moscow as 766, informed these posts of the policy on repatriation of former nationals of the Baltic republics and nationals of that part of Poland annexed by the Soviet Union as set forth by the State–War–Navy Coordinating Committee and concurred in by the Department of State (740.00114 EW/3–345).