800.4016 DP/2–646: Telegram

Mr. Alexander C. Kirk, United States Political Adviser to the Supreme Allied Commander, Mediterranean Theater, to the Secretary of State


151. Reference our 55 of 14 Jan 10 a.m.34 British authorities at AFHQ requested clarification from WarOff regarding question of handing over by force liberated Soviet citizens. WarOff has now instructed them along following lines:

[Page 134]

His Majesty’s Government in interpreting Yalta agreement35 has always followed policy that liberated Soviet citizens recognized as such shall be repatriated regardless of their wishes and that if necessary force should be used.

In British zones in Austria and Germany, for instance, where HMG’s policy can be put into effect on unilateral basis, the Commander in the field applies such policy under direction of HMG.

However, in Italy, where military authorities act under instructions from Combined British and American Chiefs of Staff, an agreed policy between the two Govts must be sought. Such agreement has not yet been reached, because of divergence on interpretation of Yalta Agreement by the two Govts.

In Italy, use of force has not been employed in repatriation of those Soviet citizens recognized as such by HMG and in formal British custody, and to whom British policy alone could be applicable, as British wish to obtain backing of US Government.

British policy of using force is currently being reconsidered by Ministers, and during interim period no force is to be applied. HMG will inform British authorities at AFHQ of any change in policy.

Only exception to policy of not repatriating nationals other than Soviet citizens against his or her wishes is in the case of war criminals against whom prima facie case has been made out by Govt concerned.

  1. This telegram reported a request from a Soviet official that a number of recalcitrant Azerbaijanian refugees be turned over to him. He was informed that the United States and British Governments would return them if they were proven to be Soviet nationals. Otherwise, they would be returned only on prima facie evidence that they acted as traitors or war criminals. Nor could statements they had made to United States or British officials be used as evidence against them (800.4016 DP/1–1446).
  2. For text of the Agreement between the United States and the Soviet Union concerning liberated prisoners of war and civilians, February 11, 1945, see Foreign Relations. The Conferences at Malta and Yalta, 1945, p. 985. The final text of the parallel Anglo-Soviet agreement is not printed, but for a draft text thereof, see ibid., p. 417.