Memorandum by the Assistant Chief of the Division of North and West Coast Affairs (Wells) to the Acting Chief of That Division (White)
Irrespective of other considerations, this Government appears to have a definite commitment with the Peruvian Government not to send these German internees to Germany without their own consent.
While we intended the commitment to apply only for the duration, there is evidence that we intentionally lead the Peruvian Government to understand otherwise; and from time to time spokesmen for the [Page 273] Peruvian Government have indicated that they do not consider the commitment to be limited to the war period. Department’s decision not to forcibly repatriate deportees was expressed in its telegram no. 223, March 1, 1944, to Lima,16 the substance of which was made known to the Peruvian Government as well as the German colony at large. This telegram cautions the Embassy to avoid any reference to their disposition after the war. Thus far a search of the records, admittedly incomplete, has failed to reveal that we ever clarified our intentions. The present Foreign Minister, Dr. Correa, in conversation with Embassy officers on May 15, 1945, “recalled that according to the agreement with Peru, they could not be sent to Germany without their own consent” (Embassy’s despatch no. 3281 of May 1516).
Regardless of our interpretation of the agreement, this statement of Dr. Correa clearly indicates what the Peruvian Government understands the commitment to be. Even admitting our interpretation, is it not premature to repatriate these Germans before the peace treaty? Are we not at war with Germany until a final peace document is signed?
Without going into considerations of general policy on this question, I think this Government should, in exercise of simple good faith, acquiesce in any requests that the Peruvian Government may make for the return to Peru of individual internees, regardless of their classifications; especially since the Embassy’s telegram no. 891 , August 8, 7 p.m.,16 indicates that the Peruvian Government is taking a very reasonable attitude, limiting its interest to those internees involving Peruvian wives or with certain local sentimental connections.
It might be well to bear in mind a number of other circumstances in this connection which cannot be ignored:
- President Bustamante is said to have been critical of the Peruvian Government’s “cooperation” with the United States in the deportation program. His sister-in-law (married to a German) was killed in one of the U. S. air raids over Hamburg, a fact which possibly has an unfavorable bearing on his whole attitude.
- The new Minister of Justice, Dr. Alayza, married to a German, has been critical of the United States during the war, and is in an excellent position to cause embarrassment should he choose to do so.
- It appears that the new Minister of Public Health, Dr. Oscar Trelles, is the brother-in-law of one of the class “A” internees (Detgen). Should he be deported hastily before the Minister is aware of what is happening, an embarrassing request for his return from Germany may follow.
Whatever attitude this Government may adopt, it would seem definitely more politic to proceed with the repatriation program only [Page 274] after full and frank consultations with the Peruvian Government on a case to case basis. Evidence on each individual should be presented to the Peruvian Government for the purpose of avoiding future complaints. Otherwise, without doubt, the Peruvian Government will allege that it would not have consented to the repatriation of certain individuals (such as Detgen) had it been aware of all the circumstances.