The Acting Secretary of State to the Secretary of the Treasury (Morgenthau)
My Dear Mr. Secretary: The Department of State has received a telegram from the American Legation at Bern in which it is stated that the Legation received a letter from the International Committee of the Red Cross at Geneva, stating that the Japanese Red Cross has requested that arrangements be made for the distribution for relief to interned Japanese civilians in the United States of 60,000 Swiss francs and for assistance to Japanese presently in Mexico of 89,222.50 Swiss francs. It was proposed that the Delegates of the International Committee of the Red Cross in the United States and Mexico respectively distribute currency to the officers in charge of the camps and that purchases should be made by the beneficiaries themselves. The International Committee of the Red Cross at Geneva has asked to be informed by this Government whether transfers directly to the United States and Mexico are possible.
I believe that retaliatory measures will be taken against United States nationals in the Far East18 if this proposed transmission of funds to Japanese interned in the United States is not permitted.
I should therefore appreciate it if the Treasury Department would issue and send to the Department of State for transmission to the Delegate of the International Committee of the Red Cross in the United States a license permitting the International Committee of the Red Cross in the United States to receive from the Department of State a check drawn on the Treasurer of the United States for the counter value in dollars of the sum of 60,000 Swiss francs deposited to the credit of the Special Swiss Franc Account in favor of the American Legation at Bern with the Swiss National Bank and to disburse such funds to the officers in charge of internment camps in the United States where Japanese civilians are interned.19
The Department of State instructed the American Embassy at Mexico City to inform the Mexican Government of the proposal by the International Committee of the Red Cross at Geneva regarding the proposed remittance to Mexico and to ascertain whether the Mexican Government would agree to permit such a remittance to be made. [Page 435] The Embassy has informed the Department of State that it has received a communication from the Mexican Ministry for Foreign Affairs in which it is stated that although in its opinion the distribution of such funds among Japanese civilians in Mexico is unnecessary, the appropriate Mexican authorities are prepared to consider the matter again on the basis of a request from the International Red Cross, or from the Power protecting Japanese interests in Mexico.
- For documentation on efforts by the United States to send financial and other asistance to American nationals held by Japan, see pp. 407 ff.↩
- No reply from the Secretary of the Treasury found in Department files. However, the Foreign Funds Control of the Treasury Department issued a license on June 14 to the International Committee of the Red Cross in the United States to receive from the Department of State the dollar equivalent of 60,000 Swiss francs for the purpose requested.↩