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, paragraph 4, and different articles signed at Rome, May 26, 1916 , French Postal Administration already allows transmission postage free of nonregistered mail of every description, letters of declared value, of postal orders to or from prisoners of war comprising interned civilians, notwithstanding origin or destination of despatches, whether belligerent, Allied or neutral countries. This regulation naturally applies to mail matter from or to United States. Regarding parcel-post packages Foreign Office refers to its letter transmitted in my telegram 3020, January 11. To facilitate task of French postal service Ministry suggest that American Post Office forward mail matter for prisoners interned in enemy countries in special sacks addressed either to the French bureau at Pontarlier, “ Service des Prisonniers de Guerre," or to a Swiss bureau which would be designated by mutual agreement between the two Federal Administrations, American and Swiss. Swiss office would also be requested to forward in special sacks to the French bureau mail addressed by prisoners to United States. Text letter by mail together with a note annexed thereto giving full details regarding postal service for prisoners of war as carried out in France pursuant to agreements reached with Swiss office acting as intermediary and indications from German office.
File No. 763.72114/3542
[Received April 20, a. m.] 3715. Your 3345, March 21, 4 p. m.? Have just received answer from Foreign Office in regard thereto stating that in so far at least as applies to American citizens serving in French Army captured before United States declared war upon Germany, they should receive from the German Government similar treatment to prisoners of French nationality in accordance with article 17 of Convention V of The Hague dealing with rights and duties of neutral powers and persons. From the text of this article it results that an American citizen with rank of officer in the French Army should if taken prisoner receive the same pay as his comrades of French nationality.
As to the attitude of the French Government, the latter considers itself bound to give American citizens fighting in its armies and who may be captured the same assistance as to its own nationals, notably as regards supplies. However, should the German Government decide to consider some among them as American prisoners, as suggested in the Department's telegram, it is to be feared that the said Government would deny them the benefit of the agreements reached by it with the French Government regarding the revictualling of prisoners of war, especially that of collective shipments of bread. Precise information on that point could doubtless be obtained through Spanish Embassy at Berlin if Federal Government will indicate the names of those American citizens regarding whom Germany has notified Washington. French Government might then, should Federal Government so desire, claim from German Government identical treatment for such prisoners to that of French prisoners of war.
Foreign Office adds that it would not object to American Red Cross in Switzerland assisting Americans captured while serving in French ranks. Text by mail.
File No. 763.72114/3567
The Ambassador in Italy (Page) to the Secretary of State
ROME, May 1, 1918, 1 p. m.
[Received 9.05 p. m.] 1564. Department's 1127, March 22, 3 p. m. Translation of Foreign Office note received today states:
The treatment for American citizens incorporated in the Royal Army who may be captured by the enemy will be completely the same as that of Italian prisoners of war. The Royal Government will provide for their clothing and food in the measure adopted for Italian prisoners of war, and in case of officers, will cause them to receive their pay in the same manner as is practiced for Italian officer prisoners, to be reimbursed at the end of the war. Finally, parcels of food can freely be sent to American prisoners of war through the American Red Cross from the stocks which this organization has at its disposal in Switzerland.
1 See footnote 2, ante, p. 25.
File No. 763.72114/3593
The Minister in Switzerland (Stovall) to the Secretary of State
BERNE, May 9, 1918, 6 p.m.
[Received May 10, 8.23 p. m.] 3315. Spanish Embassy, Berlin, transmits from German Army administration (communication] dated April 8, to the effect that [all privates] and noncommissioned officers of American Army, after being disinfected at temporary camp, will be concentrated at camp Tuchel and no change to occur except in case of individuals assigned for work. American Navy men to be concentrated at Brandenburg. Document follows.
File No. 763.72114/3620
[Received May 15, 4.46 p. m.] 10070. Your 6976, March 21. Foreign Office informs me that British Government regard such prisoners in every respect as if they were British-born subjects and would not consider their status of belligerents as in any way affected by a notification on the part of enemy governments that they were considered as American prisoners of war. In connection with parcels outside food, an adequate allowance of food is regularly sent under official control to all British prisoners and despatch of supplementary parcels is considered undesirable and therefore prohibited. If, however, United States Government wish to forward extra supplies through American Red Cross to American subjects in British Army who have been made prisoners, British Government would not desire offer any objection.
File No. 763.72114/3649
m 1385. Instruct all consuls in Holland to advise any American prisoner escaping from Germany that he should report as soon as
* Not printed.
possible to the American Military Attaché in London for a complete examination regarding conditions in Germany.
File No. 763.72114/3759
WASHINGTON, July 12, 1918, 4 p. m. 2280. Request Spanish Embassy at Berlin to bring the following note textually to the attention of the German Government.
The Government of the United States has been informed through a report by delegates of the Spanish Embassy at Berlin on the prison camp at Tuchel where American prisoners are detained, that the American prisoners were unable to take with them their clothing when they were transferred to this camp and that the leather boots of 18 of the prisoners were removed and shoes with wooden soles substituted. The Government of the United States is further informed that the American Red Cross-Central Committee for American Prisoners at Berne has sent to the camp at Tuchel 96 pairs of boots and that up to the present time only one boot has arrived. And furthermore, Spanish delegates who have visited the camp at Tuchel have reported that the commandant of that camp asserts that the boots were taken from the prisoners under orders of the Ministry of War.
In view of the fact that German authorities admit that this practice of despoiling American prisoners of their property is actually being carried out by orders of the German Government, the Government of the United States now most energetically protests against such deliberate violation of international practice and demands that these occurrences shall cease altogether and that the property already taken shall be immediately restored.
File No. 763.72114A/29
[Received July 17, 11 p. m.] 3967. Department's 1557, March 4, 4 p. m. I am transmitting by mail a communication from German Foreign Office 2 stating that German Government is disposed to enter into same agreement with American Government regarding defense of prisoners of war under accusation as exists between British and German Governments and French and German Governments. The copy of note verbale from German Foreign Office to Netherlands Legation, Berlin, in charge of British interests, giving conditions of agreement, is enclosed.2
As regarding punishment for attempted escape, German Government is prepared to reach agreement with United States Government and suggests that this question be taken up in proposed prisoners-ofwar conference at Berne.1
File No. 763.72114/3854
[Recoived July 26, 1.40 a. m.] 4062. Swiss Government has informed American Red Cross and similar organizations of other countries that on and after August 1 Swiss Federal Railway Conference will charge half rates for the transport of foodstuffs hitherto carried free. Swiss Government bases this action on bad financial condition of Swiss railways and on its interpretation of article 16, paragraph 2 of annex of Hague convention regarding laws and customs land warfare referring to freedom from payment for carriage by government railways. Swiss Government refers to article 7 of same convention to the effect that prisoners of war must receive food, et cetera, from captor state equal to that furnished by that state to its own army and maintains that when a state, owing to great victualing difficulties is no longer in a position to feed its prisoners as it does its own troops and private or official aid associations undertake provisioning of prisoners with articles of prevailing necessity, these can no longer be considered as in the sense of article 16, but on the contrary must be looked upon as supplements to the more or less insufficient rations furnished by the captor state.
My British and French colleagues have telegraphed to their Governments for instructions and the French Ambassador proposes calling a meeting. Desire instructions as to whether I shall join in an objection to Swiss Government which I anticipate will be made. I shall endeavor to form estimate of cost involved and report further.
File No. 763.72114/3859
[Received July 26, 9.46 p. m.] 4071. My 4062, July 24, 9 a. m. In a note verbale from Swiss Political Department to Legation received today, Swiss Government
* For final arrangements regarding these points see the agreement of Nov. 11, 1918, post, p. 103.