862.30/7–1245: Telegram

The Acting Secretary of State to the Ambassador in Argentina ( Braden )

878. The question of the German submarine, subject your tel 1514 July 12 and previous84 was discussed in staff committee meeting this morning.

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Decision was for you to make prompt and vigorous, but polite request to the Argentine Government, on behalf of the four powers to whom the German armed forces surrendered, to turn over the submarine and its crew to the custody of U.S. naval authorities.

According to Act of Military Surrender,85 all German forces on land, sea, and in the air surrendered unconditionally to SCAEF86 and Soviet High Command; and pursuant to orders from the Allies based on Act of Surrender, the German High Command issued instructions to all German naval forces, including the U–boat fleet.

A letter of July 12 from Acting Secretary of the Navy87 states in part that the terms of surrender signed by the German High Command make specific provision for the surrender of the German U–boat fleet. The German High Command agreed to order all “U–boats at sea” to follow strictly the instructions for proceeding to Allied ports. These instructions set forth the areas and routes for U–boats surrendering, including Area F, the North and South Atlantic. None of the points to which they are directed to proceed are in or near Argentine waters. It is considered therefore that this German submarine by surrendering at Mar del Plata, violated the terms of the surrender agreement with Germany. The Navy Department further indicates that it considers it highly desirable that the crew be thoroughly questioned to determine not only whether the submarine participated in the evacuation of any war criminals, but also whether members of the crew themselves perpetrated any war crimes. The Navy Dept moreover believes that such interrogation could be more successfully conducted in the U.S. than in Argentina. Modern interrogation is a highly technical process calling for specially trained personnel.

In making representations to Argentine Government, please stress fact that action of submarine commander constituted a violation of surrender instrument as implemented by specific instructions issued to all German U–boats at sea and that Argentina is under an obligation not to be a party to such violation.88 Sent to Buenos Aires. Repeated to London, Paris and Moscow.

  1. None printed. The Ambassador had reported the arrival of a German submarine in an Argentine port and its subsequent surrender to the Argentine Navy.
  2. For texts of Acts of Military Surrender of May 7 and 8, 1945, see Department of State Executive Agreement Series No. 502, or 59 Stat. (pt. 2) 1858 and 1860.
  3. Supreme Commander, Allied Expeditionary Force.
  4. Not found in Department files.
  5. The Ambassador in Argentina reported in telegram 1543, July 16, 8 p.m., that the Argentine Foreign Office had accepted the obligation to place the submarine at the disposition of the United States and Great Britain (862.30/7–1645).