711.62115 AR/8–3145

Memorandum of Conversation, by the Assistant Chief of the Special War Problems Division (Clattenburg)

Participants: Mr. Herbert Wechsler, Assistant Attorney General;
Mr. Armand D. Dubois, Acting Director, Alien Enemy Control Unit, Department of Justice.
Mr. Richard W. Flournoy, Assistant Legal Adviser, Department of State.
Mr. William P. Cochran, Chief of Division of Caribbean and Central American Affairs, Department of State.
Mr. R. C. Alexander, Assistant Chief of Visa Division, Department of State.
Mr. A. E. Clattenburg, Assistant Chief of Special War Problems Division, Department of State.

Mr. Wechsler explained that the Commissioner, Immigration and Naturalization Service,22 had expressed his reluctance to proceed with the delivery to the Department of State for repatriation to Germany of a group of Germans sent to the United States from the other American republics for internment and repatriation, in view of the facts that a number of these Germans expressed unwillingness to return to Germany and that the Immigration and Naturalization Service had no legal authority which it could adduce in support of such action. Mr. Wechsler pointed out further that two German nationals scheduled for removal to Germany and apprehended for that purpose have filed habeas corpus suits and that, whereas the authority of the Department of Justice to detain German nationals was clear, it was not clear that it had authority to force their removal from this country, and that it further appeared that in cases where the individuals might adduce prima facie evidence that they were not enemy nationals, the Department of Justice could not even maintain its custody of such individuals. Mr. Wechsler felt that in view of the plan to send from the United States to Germany the following week a group of Germans who had been brought to this country from other American republics, the matter deserved the most serious consideration. He requested from the State Department a statement of the theory under which the Department would hold that it had the authority to remove these persons from the United States.

As a preliminary to further discussion, Mr. Clattenburg reviewed the circumstances under which these individuals find themselves in [Page 279] the United States. He pointed out that so far as concerns Germans, those remaining here are the residue of a much large [larger] number brought here for internment and repatriation. Only those Germans who had refused repatriation during the existence of the Nazi regime for whatever reason, and had not been forced to proceed to Germany against their will, and those persons against whom there had been security objections, regardless of whether they wished repatriation or not, now remain in the United States. All those Germans found harmless from the point of view of security and willing to return to Germany had been included in exchanges of nationals with Germany during the course of hostilities. With respect to the Germans who had refused repatriation, a variety of motivations existed. Some were originally volunteers for repatriation in 1942, evincing a loyalty to Nazi Germany which otherwise might not have been of record but subsequently changed their mind on reaching the United States. Others have frankly stated that they allowed themselves to be removed to the United States on the assumption that they could arrange upon arriving here, in view of the well-known American generosity, to evade repatriation and obtain legal entry into this country for permanent residence. A variety of personal, business and family grounds were also advanced in the different cases. All had been brought to the United States on the assumption that it would be feasible to repatriate them almost immediately, which assumption later turned out not to be justified in these particular cases. The situation of the Department of State in regard to them appeared to be one requiring the exercise of judgment and discretion in coping with a situation without a precedent. The Department of State never had an intention of conferring upon these persons any right to remain in the United States. It therefore had specifically instructed its consular officers that they were not to be granted visas and had arranged with the Immigration Service for them to land and proceed to internment camps without the formality of admission under the immigration laws.

Mr. Flournoy and Mr. Alexander stated that so far as they were aware the Department of State had no authority under the immigration laws to remove these individuals.

Mr. Cochran indicated the serious political difficulties which would ensue upon failure to remove these individuals or a great delay in removing them.

Consideration was given to the means of establishing legal authority for the removal of the Germans scheduled for repatriation without regard to their wishes on the N.Y.U. Victory leaving New York September 8. Mr. Wechsler suggested that the Department of State might obtain from the President a Proclamation conferring [Page 280] upon the Secretary of State the authority to issue orders of removal against enemy aliens sent here from the other American republics who have no immigration status and are deemed by the Secretary of State to be dangerous to the safety of the nation and the security of the Hemisphere, with authority to call upon other agencies of the Government to assist in such removal. Authority for the issuance of such Proclamation may be found in Section 4067 of the Revised Statutes (50 U.S.C. 21).

It was agreed that although the time was short, an effort would be made to obtain the necessary Proclamation and that the Department of State would make a draft for submission through regular channels after informal advance clearance with the Department of Justice.

  1. Ugo Carusi.