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File No. 763.72114A/206
The Ambassador in Spain (Willard) to the Secretary of State

MADRID, October 1, 1918, 1 p. m.

[Received October 2, 1.15 a, m.] 1871. Department's 1434, August 16, 3 p. m., and 1596, September 24, 5 p. m. Spanish Ambassador, Vienna, telegraphs as follows:

5 p. Austro-Hungarian Government is disposed to send delegates to the conference at Berne with the United States concerning an agreement relative to the feeding, treatment, and exchange of prisoners of war, asking to be informed as to date of this meeting and proposing also the discussion of the question of the reciprocal treatment and assist in [assistance to] civilians remaining in both belligerent countries. Have repeated to Berne.


File No. 763.72114A/206

The Secretary of State to the Ambassador in Spain (Willard)


WASHINGTON, October 3, 1918, 4 p. m. 1629. Your 1871, October 1, 1 p. m. Department instructs you to communicate direct with Garrett relative to the date of the AustroHungarian conference and then to communicate his reply to the Austro-Hungarian Government through the proper channels, keeping the Department advised as to the date thus agreed upon.


File No. 763.72114A/322
The Minister in Switzerland (Stovall) to the Secretary of State

1 [Telegram]
BERNE, November 9, 1918, 1 p. m.

[Received November 11, 4.15 a. m.] 5680. Have received note addressed to Swiss Political Department by Austro-Hungarian Legation, stating its Government unable at present time to designate delegates to proposed American-AustroHungarian prisoners-of-war conference, and requesting that opening of conference be postponed.


'Latter not printed.

File No. 763.72114A/322

The Secretary of State to the Minister in Switzerland (Stovall)


WASHINGTON, November 15, 1918, 5 p. m. 3340. Your 5680, November 9, 1 p. m. In view of the present situation Department considers it advisable to postpone indefinitely American-Austro-Hungarian prisoners-of-war conference and instructs you to take the necessary steps to advise the AustroHungarian Government to this effect. The Swiss Government should also be informed that the proposed conference has been indefinitely postponed and you will extend to the Swiss Government the thanks of the United States Government for the courtesy of the Swiss Government in expressing its willingness to preside over this proposed conference. Inform Madrid.


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File No. 763.72111Y2/11
The Ambassador in Germany (Gerard) to the Secretary of State

BERLIN, February 4, 1917, 4 p. m.

[Received February 5, 3.25 p. m.] 4993. In conversation with Zimmermann ? regarding the Yarrowdale he referred to the treaty of 1798 [1799] about subjects of both countries having nine months to leave in case of war and take their goods with them. He said he and I ought to draw up a sort of protocol about this. Please instruct. I think we have many Germans. There are very few real Americans left in Germany.


File No. 711.622/5

The Swiss Minister (Ritter) to the Secretary of State


WASHINGTON, February 10, 1917. MR. SECRETARY OF STATE: The German Legation at Berne has communicated the following to the Swiss Political Department (Foreign Office) :

The American treaty of friendship and commerce of the 11th of July, 1799, provides by article 23 for the treatment of the subjects or citizens of the two states and their property in the event of war between the two states. This article, which is without question in full force as regards the relations between the German Empire and the United States, requires certain explanations and additions on account of the development of international law. The German Government therefore proposes that a special arrangement be now signed, of which the English text is as follows: 3


1 See also “ Prisoners of War The American-German Conference at Berne,” ante, p. 60.

2 Dr. Artur Zimmermann, German Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs.

For comment of the American Ambassador in Germany on the proposed treaty see his telegram of Feb. 12, Foreign Relations, 1917, Supplement 1, pp. 588-591.



ARTICLE 1. After the severance of diplomatic relations between Germany and the United States of America and in the event of the outbreak of war between the two powers, the citizens of either party and their private property in the territory of the other party shall be treated according to article 23 of the treaty of amity and commerce between Prussia and the United States, of the 11th of July, 1799, with the following explanatory and supplementary clauses.

ART. 2. German merchants in the United States and American merchants in Germany shall, so far as the treatment of their persons and their property is concerned, be held in every respect on a par with the other persons mentioned in article 23. They shall accordingly, even after the period provided for in article 23 has elapsed, be entitled to remain and continue their profession in the country of their residence. Merchants as well as the other persons mentioned in article 23 may be excluded from fortified places or other places of military importance.

ART. 3. Germans in the United States and Americans in Germany shall be free to leave the country of their residence within the time and by the routes that shall be assured to them by the proper authorities. The persons departing shall be entitled to take along their personal property, including money, valuables, and bank accounts, excepting such property the exportation of which is prohibited according to general provisions.

ART. 4. The protection of Germans in the United States and of Americans in Germany and of their property shall be guaranteed in accordance with the laws existing in the countries of either party. They shall be under no other restrictions concerning the enjoyment of their private rights and the judicial enforcement of their rights than neutral residents. They may accordingly not be transferred to concentration camps, nor shall their private property be subject to sequestration or liquidation or other compulsory alienation except in cases that under the existing laws apply also to neutrals. As a general rule German property in the United States and American property in Germany shall not be subject to sequestration or liquidation, or other compulsory alienation under other conditions than neutral property.

ART. 5. Patent rights or other protected rights held by Germans in the United States or Americans in Germany shall not be declared void, nor shall the exercise of such rights be impeded, nor shall such rights be transferred to others without the consent of the person entitled thereto, provided that regulations made exclusively in the interest of the state shall apply.

ART. 6. Contracts made between Germans and Americans, either before or after the severance of diplomatic relations, also obligations of all kinds between Germans and Americans, shall not be declared cancelled, void, or in suspension, except under provisions applicable to neutrals. Likewise the citizens of either party shall not be impeded in fulfilling their liabilities arising from such obligations, either by injunctions or by other provisions, unless these apply to neutrals.

59665-33— 11

ART. 7. The provisions of the sixth Hague convention, relative to the treatment of enemy merchant ships at the outbreak of hostilities, shall apply to the merchant vessels of either party and their cargo. The aforesaid ships may not be forced to leave port unless at the same time they be given a pass, recognized as binding by all the enemy sea powers, to a home port, or a port of an allied country, or to another port of the country in which the ship happens to be.

Art. 8. The regulations of chapter 3 of the eleventh Hague convention, relative to certain restrictions in the exercise of the right of capture in maritime war, shall apply to the captains, officers, and members of the crews of merchant ships specified in article 7, and of such merchant ships as may be captured in the course of a possible war.

ART. 9. This agreement shall apply also to the colonies and other foreign possessions of either party.

I am instructed and have the honor to bring the foregoing to Your Excellency's knowledge and to add that the German Government would consider the arrangement as concluded and act accordingly as soon as the consent of the American Government shall have been communicated to it through the Swiss Government. Be pleased [etc.]


File No. 711.622/5

The Secretary of State to the Swiss Minister (Ritter)

No. 416

WASHINGTON, March 20, 1917. Sir: I beg to acknowledge the receipt of your note of February 10 presenting the proposals of the German Government for an interpretative and supplementary agreement as to article 23 of the treaty of 1799. After due consideration, I have to inform you that the Government of the United States is not disposed to look with favor upon the proposed agreement to alter or supplement the meaning of article 23 of this treaty. This position of the Government of the United States, which might under other conditions be different, is due to the repeated violations by Germany of the treaty of 1828 and the articles of the treaties of 1785 and 1799 revived by the treaty of 1828. It is not necessary to narrate in detail these violations, for the attention of the German Government has been called to the circumstances of each instance of violation, but I may here refer to certain of them briefly and in general terms.

Since the sinking of the American steamer William P. Frye for the carriage of contraband, there have been perpetrated by the German naval forces similar unwarranted attacks upon and destruction of numerous American vessels for the reason, as alleged, that they were engaged in transportation of articles of contraband, not

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