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missioner of the American Red Cross, who is about to proceed to Europe to set into operation a system for the supply of food and clothing to American prisoners in German camps, and also, if the permission of the British and French Governments shall have been secured, for the supply of food to some 250,000 Russians and 150,000 Servian prisoners of war.
In order to make it certain that there is adequate supervision of distribution and proper inspection of camps where American prisoners are confined, the Red Cross has suggested the advisability of Mr. Howland's securing, through your own good offices and in cooperation with the Spanish Foreign Office, the services of three or more competent and energetic Spaniards, who would be men of ability and some of them at least competent food experts, and who would act as special attachés of the Spanish Embassy in Berlin, with the especial duties of supervising this work in the interests of the Government of the United States. Their salaries, which would be as high as $5,000 per annum if necessary, would be reimbursed to the Spanish Government by this Government. The Red Cross further desires Mr. Howland to secure other suitable persons to be sent to the countries of the Central Powers as agents of the American Red Cross, their salaries to be assumed by the American Red Cross, to act as camp inspectors and advisors and as food experts under the general direction of the attachés to be employed as suggested above.
In bringing to your notice these suggestions of the Red Cross, it is not the Department's intention to instruct you to take any steps which could in any way be resented by the Spanish Government or which might imply a lack of confidence on the part of this Government in the present personnel of the Spanish Embassy in Berlin and its corps of camp inspectors. The Department would, however, be glad to have you discuss the matter informally with the Foreign Office, approaching the subject from the point of view that this Government wishes to avoid increasing the already heavy task of the present personnel of the Spanish Embassy and for that reason suggests that the employment of these extra camp inspectors might be desirable, in anticipation of the addition of American prisoners to the many prisoners of other nationalities, whose interests are now under the Spanish Embassy's charge. The step should in no case be taken until the Spanish Ambassador in Berlin had been consulted and his approval obtained, preferably by wire.
Should you receive the impression in your conversation at the Foreign Office that the Spanish Government would resent any initiative on the part of the Red Cross in this matter, you will inform Mr. Howland accordingly and advise him that the entire question of camp inspectors must be left with the Spanish Government to arrange as it thinks best. On the other hand, should the approval of both the Foreign Office and the Spanish Ambassador at Berlin be obtained, you may, in cooperation with Mr. Howland, engage, or request the Spanish Foreign Office to engage, the services of three competent Spaniards for the purpose mentioned, at salaries of not more than $5,000 per annum, and you may further informally assist Mr. Howland in finding a number of Red Cross agents, with the understanding that they also would be sent to Germany only with the express approval of the Spanish Ambassador at Berlin.
The Department desires to leave this whole matter to your good discretion, as it is one which must be approached with delicacy, and authorizes you to take such steps as in your judgment appear proper and advisable, after consulting with Mr. Howland on his arrival. I am [etc.]
File No. 763.72114/2842
BERNE, August 22, 1917.
[Received August 24, 6.45 a. m.] 1494. Your 850, August 20.1 Negotiations still pending but every expectation of early conclusion. Attitude of Swiss authorities entirely favorable but Postmaster General, Berne, has received no formal notification from French Post Office of assent of its Government to free transmission of parcels through France to German prisoners in America in spite of two inquiries, last of which sent fortnight ago. I have now taken up matter informally with French Embassy here which will urge French postal authorities to telegraph assent to Berne immediately. As soon as this obtained Swiss Post Office will be in position to notify Germany of success of negotiations and to complete arrangements.
File No. 763.72114/2885
[Received September 17, 6.10 a. m.] 1650. Legation's 1494, August 22. In answer to an inquiry made at French Foreign Office through the American Embassy Paris am informed with reference to parcels mailed at the fourth-class rate and addressed to American prisoners that the French Line boats transporting these parcels are limited to 1,000 each. Prior to final
* Not printed; see telegram No. 822, Aug. 8, ante, p. 6.
decision on this subject Foreign Office wishes to be informed whether United States Government could endeavor to ship by other means the number of parcels in excess of quantity named.
File No. 763.72114/2899
The Swiss Minister (Sulzer) to the Secretary of State
WASIIINGTON, September 18, 1917. SIR: I have the honor to inform Your Excellency that the German Government has expressed to the Swiss Foreign Office the wish that this Legation, representing German interests in the United States, arrange and conduct a visit of inspection of those camps where the officers and crews of the former German auxiliary cruisers Kronprinz Wilhelm and Prinz Eitel Friedrich are now held prisoners of war, in order to ascertain in what manner these men are quartered, and, in general, all matters relating to their maintenance and personal welfare.
In accordance with this wish, I have been instructed by the Swiss Foreign Office to effect the necessary arrangements to this end, provided always, such an inspection is agreeable to the Government of the United States.
The Department of State having advised this Legation that these men are held prisoners at Fort McPherson and Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia, and having verbally indicated its agreement to the inspection, I beg to inform Your Excellency that I have arranged that my collaborator, Dr. Carl P. Hübscher, Secretary of the Legation, and Mr. Maurice Trembley, of New York, a Swiss citizen, will undertake to inspect these camps the week of September 24. The exact date will be communicated later to Your Excellency. I should esteem it a great courtesy if the officers of these camps would be duly informed of this visit of inspection, and on as early an occasion as Your Excellency may find possible. Accept [etc.]
File No. 763.72114/2899
The Secretary of State to the Swiss Minister (Sulzer)
WASHINGTON, September 21, 1917. SIR: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of September 18, 1917, in which you inform the Department of the contemplated inspection, by Dr. Carl P. Hübscher, Secretary of the Legation, and Mr. Maurice Trembley, of New York, a Swiss citizen, of the War Prison Barracks at Fort McPherson and Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia. In reply I have the honor to inform you that the Department of State perceives no objection to the contemplated inspection but that it would be greatly obliged if, in future, the Legation of Switzerland would designate as inspectors only those men who are officially accredited to this country as representatives of the Swiss Government, in charge of German interests in the United States.
As regards the third paragraph of your letter of September 18, 1917, referred to above, I have the honor to inform you that the Department of State is this day in receipt of a communication from the Department of War stating that all the prisoners of war now confined at the War Prison Barracks, Fort Douglas, Georgia (Utah), are being transferred to the War Prison Barracks, Fort McPherson, Georgia, and that all interned aliens confined at the last-named War Prison Barracks are being transferred to Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia.
I desire further to advise you that the Department of War has been informed of the proposed inspection of the representatives of the Swiss Government. Accept [etc.]
File No. 763.72114/2895
The Secretary of State to the Swiss Minister (Sulzer) The Secretary of State presents his compliments to the Minister of Switzerland, in charge of German interests in the United States, and has the honor to inform him that pending an agreement with the Imperial German Government regarding the postal correspondence of prisoners of war the Department of War has advised the Department of State that each prisoner of war and interned alien in the United States is limited to the sending of two letters, not to exceed six pages, and one postal card per week and that this does not include postal cards acknowledging the receipt of packages.
WASHINGTON, September 24, 1917.
File No. 763.72114/2885
WASHINGTON, October 3, 1917, 5 p. m. 988. Your 1650, September 15, noon. Department is of the opinion that limit of 1,000 parcels transported by each steamer of the French Line will for the present be an ample allowance and that no steps need yet be taken to ship by other means the number of parcels in excess of quantity named.
File No. 763.72114/2925
The Secretary of State to the Swiss Minister (Sulzer)
The Secretary of State presents his compliments to the Minister of Switzerland, in charge of German interests in the United States, and has the honor to acknowledge the receipt of his memoranda 1 of September 25, 1917, and August 11, 1917, in regard to granting permission for wives of German prisoners interned in the United States to visit their husbands on stated occasions.
The Secretary of State has the honor to inform the Minister of Switzerland that the following provision has now been made by the Department of War in the premises :
Prisoners of war will be allowed to receive visitors, under such restrictions as may be considered necessary by the commanding officer of the camp or barracks in which they are interned, on one day each week.
WASHINGTON, October 9, 1917.
File No. 763.72114/2979
The Secretary of War (Baker) to the Secretary of State
WASHINGTON, October 19, 1917. Sir: I have the honor to acknowledge receipt of your communication of October 16, wherein the views of the War Department are requested upon the advisability of constituting a commission to deal quickly and effectively with the various questions which are continually arising with regard to American prisoners in Germany and German prisoners in the United States.
All prisoners of war held by the United States are placed in the custody of the War Department, and The Adjutant General of the Army is, by regulation, given general charge of all matters connected with such prisoners. The Adjutant General is further charged with the maintenance of the Bureau of Inquiry for prisoners of war, which will receive and record the information of American prisoners in Germany that is required by article 4, chapter 1, of the Geneva convention.
Since the outbreak of the present war, The Adjutant General has furnished promptly the American Red Cross the information concerning prisoners that it is necessary for them to have; and he has endeavored to cooperate with them in every way.
The effort of the War Department has been to build up a machinery which would in an adequate and responsible way take care of this
* Not printed.