The Acting Secretary of State to the Secretary of War (Stimson)
My Dear Mr. Secretary: A collateral result of the program of Hemisphere security in which the United States Government has provided facilities within this country for the detention of dangerous Axis civilians deported from the other American republics is that there are now in internment camps or elsewhere in this country approximately 1,000 enemy European nationals and approximately 1,300 Japanese nationals deported from the other American republics. This Department feels that good public policy calls for the earliest possible removal of such persons from this country after the termination of hostilities in Europe and Asia respectively. Not only does their continued stay in the United States constitute a burden for the American taxpayer, but as a group they are not desirable additions to our own population. Our national interest and our international obligations under Resolution VII adopted at the recent Inter-American Conference on Problems of Peace and War at Mexico City1 militate against their being returned, except in most unusual cases, to the countries from which they were originally deported.
The unspeakable atrocities uncovered in Germany by the forces under the command of General Eisenhower2 serve to emphasize the undesirable character as members of our communities in this country of those Germans who have been unable to accustom themselves to the free and democratic manner of life which the peoples of the Americas prefer. We have not in this country the legal means to exercise upon such unassimilable persons stern measures for restraint and reeducation such as will be applied to them if they are returned as soon as possible to their own country and are dealt with as we deal with the [Page 267] remainder of the German population under military government. Delay or temporization in removing such individuals from our midst will be interpreted by them as a sign of weakness and as an invitation to exploit that weakness by exerting every effort to remain here. If they remain in this Hemisphere we may expect them, because of their innate and continuing hostility to our Government and to our people, to work continually against us. Their characteristic reaction to the facts which General Eisenhower is forcing other Germans to see with their own eyes at Buchenwald3 and elsewhere would be, even in the face of irrefutable testimony, that we had slandered their people and their Party with propaganda. Each such individual who escapes the control of the military government in Germany represents a possibility of the preservation and dissemination in our midst of poisonous Nazi doctrines. Of course, the number and viciousness of such individuals in our hands are relatively insignificant in comparison with the situation uncovered in Germany.
In view of the foregoing considerations it is the opinion of the Department of State that the prompt deportation from this country of the enemy nationals referred to will become a matter of great urgency as soon as hostilities are terminated in any given theater. It is most desirable to avoid the situation which occurred after the last war when numbers of internees and other persons were not released from confinement until a number of years had elapsed after termination of hostilities. It is my understanding that the legislative branch of the Government has evinced some anxiety on this score on fiscal grounds.
In Mr. Stettinius’ letter of November 7, 1944, to Admiral Leahy,4 he indicated that after the termination of formal hostilities in Europe the Department of State desires in the public interest to use the Gripsholm among other purposes to repatriate European undesirables who are now largely subsisting in this country at the cost of the taxpayer and whose subsequent removal from this country may be expected to become increasingly difficult to effect. The time for effectuating that program is near at hand and I should appreciate being informed whether you are in sympathy with it.
I am sending a copy of this letter to the Attorney General5 for his comment and I am sure that both he and I will greatly appreciate the expression of your views on the subject. This Department’s attitude toward some aspects of the problems involved herein is set forth in [Page 268] greater detail in the attached copy of minutes of a meeting held on August 31, 1944.6
- For text of Resolution VII, see Pan American Union, Final Act of the Inter-American Conference on Problems of War and Peace, Mexico City, February–March, 1945 (Washington, 1945), p. 38. For documentation regarding this Conference, see pp. 1 ff.↩
- Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower, Supreme Commander, Allied Expeditionary Force.↩
- Village in East Germany near Weimar; site of a concentration camp, 1937–1945.↩
- Adm. William D. Leahy, Chief of Staff to the Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy; letter not printed.↩
- Francis Biddle.↩
- Not found in Department files.↩