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archaeologist, Baron Max von Oppenheim. Dr. Wilson said that perhaps the Institute had been at fault in not making certain that a prior concession for the dig had not been granted to the Germans. I said that I did not feel that the Institute need blame itself in this respect, that the French authorities had in fact invited the Institute to undertake the dig and had granted a special concession. I added that in my opinion it was not the duty of the Institute to go behind this French offer to see whether it had been made in good faith and whether it could legally be made. I stated that any such effort and investigation by the Institute would undoubtedly have caused displeasure to the French officials concerned. Dr. Wilson seemed to agree and said if that estimate of the situation was correct the question arose in his mind whether, in order to protect the Institute and possibly with a view to establishing a legal claim against the French authorities in Syria, it might not be desirable for this Government to take some official action. Dr. Wilson seemed to have in mind a possible reservation by the Department of the rights of the Institute in regard to the concession. I told Dr. Wilson that upon my return to Washington I would be glad to bring the matter up for discussion in the Department.
The Consul General at Beirut (Engert) to the Secretary of State
BEIRUT, January 24, 1941–8 p.m.
[Received January 25—11 a. m.] 20. Consulate General's despatch No. 608, September 24, 1940.6 After consultation with McEwan and the French Director of Archaeology, I feel very strongly that we should make an attempt to defend and to reserve the Tell Fakhariyah concession for future use even if the Oriental Institute does not wish to continue excavations at the present time. To acquiesce in the cancellation and to accept indemnity would of course imply waiver of all claims to the site and surrender of objects and records of the evacuation [excavation]. Incidentally French authorities would probably insist that indemnity be spent in Syria. Please inform the Oriental Institute of the above.
German agent von Hentig (see my telegram No. 13, January 17, 2 p. m.®) sent for McEwan a few days ago and suggested to him continuation of Fakhariyah excavations jointly with the German Archaeological Institute. I have told McEwan that I personally considered such cooperation most undesirable and doubted whether the Oriental
Institute would find it acceptable. I did not however tell him I had good reason to believe that von Hentig is attempting to introduce as many German agents as possible and that archaeological excavations would furnish innocent looking means—to which the French could not well object-of spreading propaganda and spending money among the Bedouins. This is the reason why I believe we should contest the German claim to Fakhariyah.
[WASHINGTON,] February 25, 1941. Participants: Dr. John A. Wilson, Director, The Oriental Institute,
University of Chicago
Mr. Allen Dr. Wilson said that his purpose in calling at the Division was to have a general discussion of the question of the concession for archeological excavations at Tel Fecheriya, Syria, granted by the French authorities at Beirut on January 1, 1940, for a period of six years.
Dr. Wilson said that three weeks ago he had instructed Mr. McEwan, his representative in Beirut and the person in whose name the concession was actually granted, to turn over to Mr. Engert, American Consul General there, the responsibility for protecting the rights of the Institute, and to return to the United States. Dr. Wilson wanted
. to know specifically whether the Department perceived any reason why Dr. McEwan should remain in Syria. Mr. Murray said that, while the decision regarding Mr. McEwan's movements was of course one to be decided by the Oriental Institute or Mr. McEwan himself, he could see no reason, offhand, why the Department would have any basis for suggesting that Mr. McEwan remain in Beirut. Mr. Murray pointed out, however, the limitations of American consular officers in representing the interests of private American firms or institutions. He said that the Department had frequently extended its facilities to American philanthropic or cultural institutions to a somewhat greater extent than to American firms engaged in business for profit, and recalled the extent to which the Department had participated on behalf of the Oriental Institute in the negotiations concerning Persepolis, 10 but he informed Dr. Wilson that, even though well established American cultural organizations such as the Oriental Institute might be involved, the Department's representatives abroad could not assume the position of agents.
8 Wallace Murray, Chief of the Division of Near Eastern Affairs. :::... 107.
Variation of spelling for Tell Fakhariyah, presumably based on French transliteration.
Dr. Wilson said that he had not been aware of this limitation but could appreciate the reasons therefor, and said that he would probably appoint some reputable private American citizen in Beirut, such as President Dodge of the American University, to act as its representative in the absence of Dr. McEwan.
Regarding the demand of German interests that the Institute's concession be cancelled, Dr. Wilson said that the results of the first season's excavations had been very satisfactory and that both the Oriental Institute and the other American institutions which had supplied money, including notably the Boston Museum, would prefer to keep the objects and records which they had obtained from the season's work rather than to surrender them for an indemnity. He said that Mrs. McEwan had brought out to America in two suitcases the best objects found, but that the bulk of the finds and records was in cases stored at the American Legation in Baghdad. He said that he had intended leaving the remaining cases in Baghdad for an indefinite period, until shipping facilities were available.
It was suggested to Dr. Wilson that, in view of the uncertain conditions in the Near East, it would be advisable for him to arrange for the shipment of these cases from Baghdad as soon as possible, and the opinion was expressed that shipping facilities were available. Dr. Wilson said that he would act on this suggestion.
Dr. Wilson said that no American institution would send an archeological expedition to the Near East at the present time, but that he thought additional money could be raised for further work at Tel Fecheriya, based on the findings of the first season, at such time as a resumption of digging should become feasible. He said that if the Syrian archeological law, with which he was not familiar, provided that concessions must be operated each season in order to be held, he felt confident that the Institute could arrange for sufficient digging each season to satisfy the requirements of the law. He thought two weeks' work might be sufficient.
On leaving, Dr. Wilson stated specifically that the Oriental Institute desired the American Government to make a full reservation of the rights of the Institute to the concession at Tel Fecheriya. In stating this general position, however, he wished it understood that if a reservation of these rights should involve the acceptance of an indemnity and the return of the finds, the Institute would prefer to forego the indemnity.
10 Concession for reconstruction of Persepolis, 1930; no correspondence printed.
890D.927/141 : Telegram The Consul General at Beirut (Engert) to the Secretary of State
BEIRUT, February 27, 1941–9 a. m.
[Received February 27—9 a. m.] 52. My 20, January 24. McEwan has been instructed by the Oriental Institute to uphold its right to the concession. In support of this contention I have addressed a brief note to the High Commissioner 10a in which I reserve all rights on behalf of the Institute until it becomes possible to resume excavation on that particular site.
Director of Archaeology has expressed to me much satisfaction at our decision and will recommend to the High Commissioner that nobody be permitted to excavate in that area for the duration of the war. This will keep the Germans out too unless Vichy should specifically instruct to the contrary. To forestall this, if possible, I venture to suggest that our Embassy at Vichy likewise reserve all rights of the Institute.
I have also talked to the Turkish Consul General who states that his Government is interested because it would like to avoid having German archaeologists operate so near the Turkish frontier at the present time. He believes Ankara would want to tell the Vichy Government that and I therefore suggest our Embassy in Ankara be informed if the Department decides to mention the validity of the American concession at Vichy.
890D.927/141: Telegram The Secretary of State to the Consul General at Beirut (Engert)
WASHINGTON, March 11, 1941–5 p.m. 32. Your No. 52, February 27, 9 a. m. The Embassy at Vichy is being instructed by mail to make a formal reservation of the rights of the Oriental Institute and to express the confidence of the American Government that the Government of France will not accede to the German Government's request that the contract be cancelled.
The Secretary of State to the Ambassador in France (Leahy) No. 57
WASHINGTON, March 11, 1941. Sir: On January 5, 1940 the French authorities in Syria granted a concession to the Oriental Institute, Chicago, for archaeological excavations at Tel Fecheriya, Syria. The concession contract pro
vided for a period of duration of six years. The Oriental Institute sent an expedition to the site in April 1940, and excavations were continued uninterrupted until August 1940, when the French authorities in Syria informed the American archaeologist in charge of the expedition, Dr. Calvin McEwan, that the German Government had demanded the cancellation of the concession, on the grounds that a previous concession covering this area had been granted to a German archaeologist, Baron Max Von Oppenheim, and that the continuing validity of Baron Von Oppenheim's concession had been recognized by the French authorities in Syria as late as June 2, 1939.
Dr. McEwan was permitted to continue his excavations for several weeks, in order to permit him to bring to a conclusion the work immediately in hand. On August 25, 1940, his expedition is said to have been ordered off the site by French police authorities.
The Department has not been informed that the French Government has formally cancelled the concession granted to the Oriental Institute. In anticipation, however, that such action may be taken, the Oriental Institute has requested the Department of State to enter a full reservation of the rights of the Institute in connection with
a the concession contract. In as much as the American institution accepted the contract from the French authorities in good faith and has, as far as the Department is aware, fulfilled in every respect the obligations thereof, the Department is of the opinion that there are no justifiable grounds on which the French Government may cancel the contract at this time, prior to its expiration. The Oriental Institute proceeded promptly to the development of the site, and maintained full operations during the first season, at an expenditure of some $18,000.
You are requested to point out the foregoing considerations in a formal note to the French Government, reserving the full rights of the Oriental Institute under the concession and expressing the confidence of the American Government that the Government of France will not accede to the German Government's request that the contract be cancelled. Very truly yours,
For the Secretary of State:
A. A. BERLE, JR.
890D.927/143 : Telegram
The Ambassador in France (Leahy) to the Secretary of State
VICHY, May 10, 1941-3 p.m.
[Received 3:50 p. m.] 533. Department's 369, April 29, 6 p. m.,11 Oriental Institute of Chicago. A note drafted on the basis of the Department's instruc
11 Not printed.