« PreviousContinue »
and retaliate in some manner, the United States may find it necessary to comply strictly with the terms of the treaty. I have [etc.]
File No. 763.72114/4070a
The Secretary of State to the Swiss Chargé (Hübscher)
The Secretary of State presents his compliments to the Chargé d'Affaires ad interim of Switzerland, in charge of German interests in the United States, and has the honor to advise him that certain information has been received relative to German prisoners captured by the American forces in France, which information is transmitted herewith for the benefit of the Chargé d'Affaires.
The central prisoners-of-war enclosure is now at St. Pierre de Corps, from which the prisoners, other than the officers, are sent out to near-by points as may be necessary. The officers are sent to a prison camp in the same neighborhood.
Arrangements have been made with the American Red Cross Commissioner for Switzerland to have all package mail and inquiries regarding both officers and soldiers who are prisoners of war sent to the Prisoners of War Inquiry Bureau, Central Records Office, Tours, France, A.P.O. 717, to be forwarded from there to their destination.
WASHINGTON, September 5, 1918.
File No. 763.72114/4090
WASHINGTON, September 12, 1918. The Acting Secretary of War presents his compliments to the Honorable the Secretary of State and has the honor to submit the following copy of cablegram received from General Pershing:
Subparagraph F. Reference A-1604, paragraph 3, and P-1266, paragraph 2B, French Government recommends sending our enemy officer prisoners of war to the United States. I recommend the adoption of this as a policy. Under treaty of 1799 they do not work and their maintenance here involves unnecessary use of guards, lodging, and subsistence. We have 16 at Brest ready to send. More ready soon. Advise if you approve and when you will be ready to receive them. Suggest initial provision in United States for 100. Pershing.
Your recommendations on the above are requested,
File No. 763.72114/4090
WASHINGTON, September 18, 1918. SIR: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of a memorandum dated September 12, 1918, from the Acting Secretary of War (O.C.S., E.D.) submitting a copy of a telegram received from General Pershing recommending that enemy officer prisoners of war, captured by the forces of the United States, should be sent to the United States. In the memorandum under acknowledgment, my recommendations are requested with reference to the action as proposed.
In reply, I have the honor to inform you that so far as German enemy officer prisoners of war are concerned, and I assume that this is the class to whom your action would apply, I perceive no objection to their being brought to this country to be held as prisoners of war here, under the terms of article 24 of the treaty of 1799 between the United States and Prussia (revived by article 12 of the treaty of 1828) in which it is provided that prisoners of war taken by one party from the other “ shall be placed in some parts of their dominions in Europe or America, in wholesome situations.” It is clear that under this express provision, German enemy officer prisoners of war can be sent to the United States, if that is considered desirable.
As far as officer prisoners of war captured from Austria-Hungary by the forces of the United States are concerned, it is probable that they also can be sent to this country in the absence of any treaty restriction.
I shall be pleased to be informed by you if you decide to take the course indicated, and also to be advised as to the numbers of enemy officer prisoners thus brought into this country and the camps in which they are placed. I have [etc.]
For the Secretary of State:
WILLIAM PHILLIPS mi
File No. 763.72114/4041
The Secretary of War (Baker) to the Secretary of State
WASHINGTON, September 24, 1918. The Secretary of War presents his compliments to the Honorable the Secretary of State and has the honor to acknowledge the receipt
of his letter of September 18, in which it is stated that there is no objection on the part of the State Department to officer prisoners of war taken by the American forces being brought to the United States.
This matter is now before the conference at Berne, Switzerland. You will be informed of the final decision as to the disposition of these prisoners, after the report of this conference has been received.
THE AMERICAN-GERMAN CONFERENCE AT BERNE: AGREEMENT
OF NOVEMBER 11, 1918
File No. 763.72114/2800a
The Acting Secretary of State to the Minister in Switzerland
WASHINGTON, August 3, 1917, 5 p. m. 813. The Department considers that the time has now arrived to enter into an agreement with the German Government formally announcing the American Prisoners Central Committee at Berne as a relief society, and requesting for that society and its duly accredited agents facilities for the efficient performance of its humane task within the bounds imposed by military necessities and administrative regulations. This agreement should further define the contents of food and comfort packages and the method for forwarding and delivery of the same as proposed by the Committee. As these are matters which depend largely upon the local conditions at Berne and the size and scope of the Committee's organization, the Department will be glad to have the Committee prepare and cable as soon as possible the substance of a tentative agreement to be submitted by the Department to the German Government.
As the American Prisoners Central Committee has now been definitely settled upon as the intermediary for war prison relief, the War Department recommends that representatives of the Committee be accredited to the Staff of the Commanding General, United States Expeditionary Forces, to the Quartermaster General, and at such other points as these two may deem necessary. This liaison is deemed necessary to insure the administration of the affairs of the Committee working in harmony with military operations. Please cable to the Department the names of such representatives as the Committee may be in a position to accredit to the military centers mentioned. The Red Cross in Washington informs the Department that they are in a position to supply such representatives if desired.
The War Department further suggests that pending the uncertain period when an assured supply of food can be furnished by the Committee, a number of army rations, the components and exact number to be determined later, be dispatched to Berne from the United States, consigned to our Military Attaché for transfer by him to the Committee, these rations to be repacked by the Committee and forwarded to American war prisoners in Germany; and that thereafter shipments of rations to be determined by the Commanding Officer of United States Expeditionary Forces be made to the Committee at Berne to insure a supply of rations on hand at that point. The Department will be glad to have the views of the Committee in this connection.
Finally, the Department desires an expression of opinion as to the extent to which the Young Men's Christian Association should be asked to cooperate with the American Red Cross in procuring and shipping packages of food to American prisoners of war in Germany. The Red Cross has expressed its readiness to undertake this entire work and is recognized as an authorized auxiliary organization to the Army, but on the other hand it may be considered that the Young Men's Christian Association have greater facilities for carrying out the actual distribution of the packages through their neutral representatives in Germany and that cooperation between the two organizations, possibly with territorial apportionment, is desirable.
The Department will be glad to receive from the Committee a comprehensive and detailed statement of its views and recommendations covering each of the above-mentioned points. Castle 1 has not yet arrived.
File No. 703.72114/2846
p ስኺ. 1510. Your 813, August 1, 5 p. m. Committee recommends that any agreement with German Government should reaffirm chapter 2, section 1, of annex to Hague convention of 1907 and also incorporate in whole or greater part agreement provisionally concluded last month between England and Germany, of which copies forwarded Department by last mail. Special emphasis may well be laid on
? following points: (1) Immediate notification of capture to American Red Cross,
Berne, to be permitted to each prisoner (similar privileges
have not hitherto invariably been allowed). William R. Castle, Jr., Director of Bureau of Communications, American Red Cross.
* Not printed.
(2) Letters to and from prisoners to be censored promptly and
not held after censorship. (3) Utmost promptness in delivery of packages. (4) Entire freedom as to number and contents of parcels sent,
excluding razors and articles de sabotage, so called, also
excluding literature prohibited by censor. (5) Parcel post for prisoners at working camps to be there
opened and not at main camps. (6) All railway facilities for shipment of parcels to be granted,
including cars if required. (7) Access of representatives of neutral powers to all camps for
American prisoners, including working camps, to be freely allowed and conversations with prisoners without wit
nesses permitted. (8) Labor of prisoners in munition factories and mines pro
hibited and, in general, work to be adapted to the greatest
extent possible to previous occupation of prisoners. (9) Prompt distribution of winter and other clothing forwarded
from American sources (in this connection attention is called to requirement that civilian clothing for military prisoners must have some marks to readily identify prisoner as military, such as stripe of khaki cloth on sleeve
and trousers). (10) Ample facilities for outdoor games, such as baseball, to be
provided each camp. [First.] Committee does not expect from acquaintance with facilities afforded Allied Governments that objection will be made on the part of Germany to transmission of packages in any form and of any contents except as above stated.
Attention is called to the possible difficulty and delay in obtaining ratification of agreement by Germany on account of lack of central authority of War Office over different army districts having prisoners in their charge, which are independent in such matters. Also suggested that possibly discussion now or later as to prisoners between American and German commissioners on lines of recent AngloGerman conference at Hague might be desirable. If direct meeting not advisable International Red Cross might act as intermediary. At present this Committee forwards by mail weekly parcels containing two pounds of bread and a half pound sugar. Receipt of parcels
a now being duly acknowledged. Weekly miscellaneous parcels being temporarily sent from London. As soon as general supplies arrive, six 10-pound parcels a month will be sent each prisoner following British precedent. Sample parcel “A” will contain two pounds tinned meats or American pressed beef, half pound condensed milk, one pound baked beans, quarter pound soup tablets, half pound lard