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The Commissioner in India (Wilson) to the Secretary of State


No. 17

NEW DELHI, November 28, 1941.

[Received February 10, 1942.] SIR: I have the honor to refer to the Department's instruction of May 5th, 1941, by which I was directed to ascertain the attitude of the Government of India toward granting free entry to importations of equipment and supplies consigned to American missionary organizations including educational, medical, and philanthropic institutions maintained by them, as well as to importations of clothing, foodstuffs and professional equipment by the American personnel thereof.

The delay in replying to the Department's instruction, which was of course received by me in Calcutta before my change of status 58 and departure for New Delhi, has been occasioned by 1) the desirability of discussions with the appropriate authorities rather than by taking the question up at once in official correspondence, and 2) the fact that as Government was in Simla it became advisable to await their return to New Delhi without going to the expense of making a special trip to Simla for this purpose.

I have now discussed this question with the appropriate officials in two interested departments namely: External Affairs Department and the Finance Department (Central Board of Revenue) with definitely negative results. The attitude displayed by the official in the Department of External Affairs although appreciative of much good that was accomplished by medical missionaries and certain others of purely philanthropic purposes, was distinctly unsympathetic to the question from a general point of view; to allow the concessions suggested would also not be in line, according to this official, with the tariff policy towards organizations of the same category which are situated in Great Britain and elsewhere in the Empire.

My talks with the member of the Central Board of Revenue did not disclose any attitude unsympathetic to missionary organizations as such, but definitely confirmed what the first official had told me was the tariff policy of Government with added emphasis that "Government cannot possibly cater to charity as such. To do so would tend to destroy the integrity of the Tariff.” He went on to tell me of the stand Government was taking in refusing a request of this character from those concerned with the importations from England of red poppies which are sold on “Poppy Day.” No exemption from tariff duty is accorded these importations in spite of strong pressure

68 i. e., from Consul General at Calcutta to Commissioner at New Delhi; see pp. 170 ff.

upon Government to bring this about, and all countries are, according to him, treated alike in this matter with discrimination shown toward none.

This Central Board of Revenue Official called my attention to the fact that professional persons (medical missionaries, educationalists and the like) are allowed to bring in free of duty their instruments, books and tools of their profession. Further than this he was very certain Government would not be willing to go.

I do not feel that any request for reconsideration of the Government's policy would be productive of results at this time. Respectfully yours,




345.1163/84 Memorandum of Conversation, by the Assistant Secretary of State


[WASHINGTON,] September 16, 1941. Sir Ronald Campbell 54 came in today, at his request.

I took occasion to mention the protest which had been made to this Department by representatives of the Lutheran Church against the ruling of the British Foreign Office denying entrance to Lutheran missionaries to India. I pointed out that the Lutheran Church in America is not a branch

a of the German state church of the same name. On the contrary, some seventy-five years ago they had broken away. Further, the church was composed of some five million people of varied extraction, many of them Scandinavian in origin—Norwegians, Swedes, Danes, and so forth. I noted that in this particular matter they had enlisted the interest of one of their foremost members, Mr. William S. Knudsen.

I said it seemed wholly unnecessary to antagonize as large a group of Americans as this, particularly in view of the fact that the Lutheran Church had supported the American defense effort up to the hilt; that it had many distinguished army officers and government servants in its ranks; and that blanket rulings of this kind would, I thought, if publicly known, create a painful impression. I said of course that there was no intent to defend the activities of any individuals who might have been objectionable or embarrassing, but that the ruling was distinctly placed not on these grounds but on a general objection


54 British Chargé. 65 Director General of the Office of Production Management.

to the Lutheran Church. I hoped, accordingly, that Sir Ronald could take the matter up with his Government and get the ruling reversed.

Sir Ronald made note of the fact and said he would endeavor to do something about it.


345.1163/78: Telegram The Secretary of State to the Consul General at Calcutta (Wilson)

WASHINGTON, September 16, 1941–10 p. m. The Board of Foreign Missions of the United Lutheran Church in America states that the British Passport Control Office in New York has refused visas for India to two of the Board's missionaries, Leila R. Van Deusen and Esther Eleanor Bacon on grounds that visas are being denied to all Lutherans.

Miss Van Deusen and Miss Bacon are native-born American citizens and according to information furnished to the Department both parents of each were born in the United States. Miss Van Deusen has previously served with the United Lutheran Mission at Kodaikanal, South India.

The Board states that the United Lutheran Church in America was founded in the United States in 1820 and has conducted missionary work in India for 99 years; that all the Board's missionaries are instructed to refrain from political discussions and that neither the Church, Board, or its missions receive any financial aid from Germany.

Please bring the foregoing information to the attention of the appropriate authorities and report their decision to the Department by telegraph. You may add that representations have been made by the Department to the British Embassy who are taking up the matter at London.


345.1163/91 Memorandum by the Chief of the Division of European Affairs

(Atherton) to the Secretary of State

[WASHINGTON,] October 28, 1941. THE SECRETARY: I asked Sir Ronald Campbell to call today and referred to the protest which had been made by this Department against the denial of entrance visas to Lutheran missionaries for India. I referred to Mr. Berle's conversation on September 16 and continued to point out that this could not be considered but a reflection on a group of loyal Americans belonging to the Lutheran Church which for over 75 years had had no affiliation with the German State church of this name.

Sir Ronald informed me that the ruling had been made by the India Office and had nothing to do with the British Foreign Office; however, the India Office had the matter under advisement and had informed the British Foreign Office that they were no longer refusing visas for Lutheran missionaries to India, but that visas were being "held in suspense” pending final deliberations. Sir Ronald undertook immediately to send a further message to London and likewise trusted Ambassador Winant might be requested to take the matter up with the British Foreign Office. A telegram to London in this sense is being prepared.


345.1163/865 : Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Commissioner in India (Wilson)

WASHINGTON, October 28, 1941–3 p. m. 4. With reference to the Departments September 16, 10 p. m., and October 16, 8 p. m.,56 to Calcutta, please report by telegraph immediately on action taken with respect to alleged refusal of Government of India to grant visas to Lutheran missionaries.


345.1163/88c: Telegram The Secretary of State to the Ambassador in the United Kingdom


WASHINGTON, October 29, 1941–7 p. m. 4815. The British Passport Control Officer in New York has informed the Board of Foreign Missions of the Lutheran Church of America that he has received instructions that Lutheran missionaries are not to be admitted to India and on the basis of these instructions he has refused to grant visas to the Board's missionaries desiring to proceed to India. This ruling is severely handicapping the Board's work in India.

On September 16 in a telegram to the Consulate General to Calcutta and in a conversation with the British Chargé d'Affaires in Washington it was pointed out that the Lutheran Church in America is not a branch of the German Lutheran Church and that neither the Church, Board, or its Missions receive any financial aid from Germany. The Consulate General, and subsequently the Commissioner at New Delhi, were instructed to take the matter up with the Government of India and the British Chargé d'Affaires stated that he would take the matter up with his Government in London. However, the Department has received no indication that the ruling has been changed.

56 Latter not printed.

Please inquire of the British authorities as to the present status of the case. If no decision has been reached, please take appropriate steps to obtain permission for American Lutheran missionaries to enter India in order to carry on the work of the Board which has been conducted in India for 99 years.

Please report developments in the matter to the Department promptly by telegraph and continue to keep me advised. Time is important.


Memorandum of Conversation, by the Secretary of State

[WASHINGTON,] October 29, 1941. The British Ambassador 57 called at his request. I called attention to the discriminatory attitude taken either by the Indian Office or the Government of India against American citizens who are Lutherans in the matter of the refusal of passport visas to India. I most earnestly urged that this policy of thus excluding missionaries of one of our important churches was impossible to explain here. I presented a number of facts and arguments in opposition to this sort of discrimination against an outstanding church composed of such fine people. The Ambassador said he would give the matter attention. I stated that Sir Ronald Campbell on last evening had promised to telegraph his Foreign Office about the matter and my later information is that he had done so.



The British Ambassador (Halifax) to the Secretary of State

WASHINGTON, October 30, 1941. DEAR MR. HULL: You spoke to me yesterday about the question of the grant of visas for India for members of the American Lutheran Missionary Societies. I am glad to inform you that on my return to the Embassy I found a telegram from Mr. Eden 58 asking me to let

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87 Viscount Halifax.
Anthony Eden, British Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs.

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