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ment on its part looks forward to the communication of a similar statement regarding the official position and pay of American sanitary personnel.

Finally, the German Government proposes to the Government of the United States to repatriate the doctors and clergymen held by both sides, even if they do not belong to the military or naval sanitary personnel, and, therefore, do not fall under the propositions of articles 9 and 10 of the Geneva convention, or of article 10 of the above-mentioned Hague convention. The American Government would have to give assurances for the safe-conduct for the return to Germany of the German personnel concerned. Such persons as would have to be repatriated according to this stipulation would also be allowed to be employed only in sanitary service after their


File No. 763.72114/3559a

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


WASHINGTON, April 24, 1918, 7.55 p. m.

1800. Your despatch No. 1707, November 9, 1917. Request Spanish Embassy, Berlin, to transmit to German Government the following reply of the Government of the United States to the Imperial German Government regarding the repatriation of the military and naval, sanitary or spiritual personnel of the United States and Germany.

With reference to the reply of the Imperial German Government to the inquiry of the Government of the United States as to the attitude of the German Government with respect to the repatriation of the military or naval, sanitary or spiritual personnel of either state now held, or hereafter to be held, by the other, the Government of the United States submits the following:

The Government of the United States, while it does not consider the provisions of the Geneva convention of 1906, or of the Hague Convention No. X of 1907, as binding on the United States in the present war, is, nevertheless, willing by agreement to adopt, as a modus vivendi, the principles laid down in articles 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, and 23 of the Geneva convention and articles 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, first two paragraphs, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, and 17 of the Hague convention, on the basis of complete reciprocity by the German Government subject, however, to the following stipulations:

(1) Instead of the allowances and pay provided by article 13 of the Geneva convention of 1906, and the third paragraph of article 10 of the Hague Convention No. X of 1907, each Government will secure to the personnel of the other referred to therein,

and remaining in its power, the same allowances and pay that the German Government furnishes persons of corresponding grade or rank in its own Army or Navy.

(2) The persons included in the sanitary or spiritual personnel under articles 9 and 10 of the Geneva convention of 1906, namely, male and female nurses, doctors, pharmacists, stretcher bearers, chaplains, officers of sanitary administration, doctors' orderlies, administrative officers of the sanitary service, and similar persons, the personnel of such voluntary aid societies as either state may have recognized and authorized and whose names have been duly notified to the other state; and the officers and other conducting personnel of movable sanitary formations mentioned in article 14 of said convention, as well as the religious, medical and hospital staffs of either sex of captured ships, referred to in article 10 of the Hague Convention No. X of 1907, now held, or who may hereafter be held by either state, shall be repatriated when their assistance is no longer indispensable to the immediate care and treatment of the prisoners of war taken by the forces of the other state; and such repatriated personnel shall not, after their return, be employed by their own Government in other than the capacities in which they were engaged.

As soon as the Government of the United States shall have been notified that the German Government accepts the above propositions and is taking steps for the release of the sanitary and spiritual personnel of the American forces in its power, it will proceed to take steps to effect the repatriation of the sanitary personnel of the crews of the interned German war vessels which are now in its hands, as well as the sanitary personnel from Tsing-Tau.

The Government of the United States is not disposed to comply with the proposal of the German Government that there be included within the contemplated arrangement the doctors and clergymen held by both states when such doctors and clergymen do not belong to the military or naval, sanitary or spiritual personnel.

Further request Spanish Embassy to inform German Government that a statement indicating corresponding ranks of the American and German sanitary personnel follows by mail.1


File No. 763.72114/4061

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


BERNE, September 30, 1918, 2 p. m.

[Received October 2, 9.40 a. m.]

4968. International Red Cross, acting under the Geneva convention, recently requested competent German authorities to restore

1Not printed.

59665-33- 4

American sanitary personnel in Germany and received report to the effect that, as Government of the United States does not regard the Geneva convention binding upon repatriation of prisoners in question, [German Government] cannot accept it in the absence of a special agreement. This action by Geneva Red Cross was unknown to the best of our knowledge.

International Red Cross now writes as follows:

You will allow the International Committee of the Red Cross, who consider themselves as the advocates of the principles on which the convention is based, to express to you their astonishment. The Geneva convention is the statute on which the Red Cross is based.

The American Red Cross, this gigantic institution, in its international action, is rooted in this convention, and therefore we cannot well understand how today America says that the convention is not binding upon her.

At present, there are only such states as Liberia and Costa Rica among the belligerents who have not signed the convention, and certainly they play an insignificant part in the present war. Therefore we cannot help thinking that America's action is a dangerous precedent. As for us it would prevent us from doing anything in favor of her prisoners, since in all the cases in which we have interfered we always availed ourselves in our requests of the conventions of Geneva and The Hague.

All the belligerents, especially the great powers, have always insisted on the principle of the Geneva convention being enforced and the newly made agreements between them on prisoners have taken the convention as base.

We should be thankful to Your Excellency to let us know whether America maintains her point of view concerning Geneva convention. STOVALL

File No. 763.72114/4061

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


WASHINGTON, November 2, 1918, 3 p. m.

3259. Your 4968, September 30, 2 p. m. Department has never received reply from German Government in answer to proposal contained in its 1800, April 24, that certain provisions of the Geneva convention of 1906 and of the Hague Convention No. X of 1907 be by agreement adopted as a modus vivendi by the Governments of Germany and the United States as outlined in Department's telegram under reference.

You may inform the International Committee Red Cross that this Government does not consider Geneva convention binding in present war on account provisions of article 24 thereof, and because all belligerents not signatory to convention. Similar interpretation has been consistently given to Hague conventions since beginning of war in 1914.

Department believes objections of Red Cross may be removed by having the conference consider whole matter mentioned in Department's 1800 as well as relations of Red Cross to prisoner work with view to reaching agreement thereon.1

Ask Herter 2 to inform Department whether its 1800, April 24, was not prepared with knowledge and assent of Red Cross here. Department has no record of correspondence but understands matter was discussed orally with officers of Red Cross before Department's 1800 was sent.



File No. 763.72114/3221

The Secretary of the Navy (Daniels) to the Secretary of State

WASHINGTON, January 22, 1918.

SIR: In reply to your letter of December 29, 1917, in which you inquire whether it is the intention of the Navy Department to send to the United States for internment all prisoners captured by United States naval forces, I have the honor to inform you that the Navy Department can only affirm what it believes the Government's policy should be. It will be guided in its method of procedure with regard to prisoners of war by the rules which are finally established by our Government.

The Navy Department believes, however, that our Government should reserve the right to send to the United States for internment all prisoners captured by United States naval forces if it is believed to be a proper policy to do so, or, if adequate arrangements can be made with other cobelligerents, that our prisoners might remain in their territory. But it distinctly believes that we should not sacrifice our rights in the matter for the sake of whatever reprisals we might fear. It may be a military necessity, in case the number of prisoners taken were large, that the prisoners be not allowed to remain on the Continent as it makes so many more useless mouths to feed, and the services of our transports could be requisitioned to bring these prisoners to the United States on their return voyages.

While, in the interests of humanity, reprisal is an act which the Navy Department would only advocate as a last resort, yet it must be borne in mind that this Government has at its disposal a weapon


For final arrangement regarding sanitary personnel see agreement of Nov. 11, 1918, post, p. 103.

2 Christian A. Herter, Special Assistant to the American Minister in Switzerland.

3 Not printed.

which is quite as efficacious as any which Germany may be able to bring to bear upon any of our prisoners, and although military expediency may cause Germany to undertake acts of reprisal against our forces taken prisoners by them in the hope possibly of increasing the logistic burden forced upon our shoulders by the necessity of feeding all forces at the front, yet it is believed that if we take a firm stand in the matter, the balance of power lies in our hand and that this fact will have its weight with Germany.

Sincerely yours,


File No. 763.72114/3322

The Secretary of War (Baker) to the Secretary of State

WASHINGTON, February 21, 1918.

SIR: With reference to previous correspondence on the subject of the disposal of prisoners of war, I have the honor to advise you as follows:

On January 4, 1918, the following cablegram was sent to General Pershing:

The Secretary of State has asked whether it is the intention of the War Department to send to the United States for internment all prisoners captured by the United States military forces rather than to surrender jurisdiction over such prisoners to another belligerent or to a neutral. Extreme caution in this matter will be necessary lest the German Government make reprisals. It is understood that Germans captured by the British forces have been loaned to the French Army for railway work behind the lines and the German Government has threatened to retaliate by sending an equal number of British prisoners to Bulgaria or Turkey. The Secretary of War desires you to study this matter with great care and cable your recommendations. If our prisoners could be held under our own military jurisdiction it might be more desirable to retain them in France. If this number is small we can probably bring them to the United States without much difficulty. If the number should be large it would presuppose very active military operations which would probably tax to the utmost the capacity of the railroads bringing your ammunition, food and other supplies and it might be impossible to count on sending them in large num bers to the seacoast. Report your views as promptly as possible.

A reply to this cablegram has been received from General Pershing, reading as follows:

With reference to your cablegram 592, questions at issue relative treatment prisoners of war present many phases which can only be settled by diplomatic negotiations through State Department. Such as, for example, pay due enemy officers and soldiers, privileges, gen1 'Not printed.

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