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eral treatment, mail and package facilities, repatriation those disabled under certain medical classifications as to officers and noncommissioned officers and soldiers. Internment in neutral countries same categories, same reasons. Application Geneva convention as to payment and repatriation captured sanitary personnel. In this latter connection understood that in this war, on account physical difficulties, belligerents have never returned captured sanitary equipment. What constitute sanitary personnel, is question arisen here and will arise in our country connection with band personnel used in evacuation wounded, et cetera. Questions apt to arise as to status our sanitary corps whether combatant personnel or not, et cetera.
Prisoners of war should be utilized here as laborers under our own jurisdiction, although shipping some prisoners of war to United States might be advantageous later in prevention of U-boat attacks provided we can accomplish same without reprisals. Complete records all altercations between English, French and belligerents known to be on record in our State Department. Recommend these be carefully studied by representative Judge Advocate General's Department and that negotiations be entered into through neutral representatives with belligerents, so that altercation all points may be made and understood before any great number prisoners of war taken.
After consideration of the subject the War Department is of the opinion that prisoners of war should be kept behind our own lines, and that they should be guarded by our troops, unless their number should become so great that this disposition would prove to be impracticable. In this connection information is requested as to whether any agreement has been made with the German Government regarding rules governing the disposal by one belligerent of the prisoners taken from the other belligerent. If no such agreement has been made, information is requested as to whether any such agreement is necessary.
Information is also requested as to whether any further action by the War Department, in regard to the disposal of prisoners of war, is necessary. Yours very truly,
NEWTON D. BAKER
File No. 763.72114/3355
WASHINGTON, March 4, 1918. Sir: There is forwarded herewith a paraphrase of a cablegram dated March 1, 1918, from Vice Admiral Sims, U. S. Navy, giving the substance of a letter received by him from the British Admiralty in regard to the disposition of prisoners of war captured by United States naval forces in European waters.
I have the honor to request the opinion of the Department of State on the subject matter, in order that early action may be taken by the Navy and War Departments. Sincerely yours,
[Enclosure-Telegram-Paraphrase] Vice Admiral Sims, Commanding Naval Operations in European
Waters, to Admiral Benson, Chief of Naval Operations
No. 4549 re my No. 4048. The following is the substance of letter received from the Admiralty:
In regard to this matter, after consulting with the Army Council their lordships have come to the conclusion that the most satisfactory course will be to regard such prisoners of war as entrusted to British custody temporarily, in order that it may be possible at any time to transfer them to the United States if such a course is considered advisable. If this arrangement be adopted, any prisoner who may be handed over to the British authorities by the United States naval forces will receive the same treatment and privileges as other prisoners of war in British hands, but will not be entitled to arrangements by any agreements concluded by His Majesty's Government and enemy governments for the repatriation, exchange or internment in a neutral country of prisoners of war. Further, as such prisoners will be accounted as captures made by the United States naval forces by whom they are entrusted for the time being to the British authorities, it would appear necessary that notification of their capture to the enemy, prescribed by article 14 of the fourth Hague convention, should be made by the original captor and not by His Majesty's Government. At any time subsequent, arrangements could then be made to transfer such prisoners to the United States, should a request to that effect be received. As it appears to their lordships to be of importance to obtain the concurrence of the United States Government in any arrangement respecting the custody and disposal of prisoners of war captured by the United States naval forces, they are causing a copy of the correspondence in regard to this matter to be communicated to the “Prisoners of War Department” with the request that steps may be taken to ascertain through the diplomatic channels whether the United States Government are in agreement with the procedure which it is proposed to adopt.
Am orally informed by the Admiralty, with respect to notification, that the German Government was furnished with a list of names of these prisoners by the British authorities shortly after capture. No mention was made as to the nationality of forces making capture, in transmitting the list, nor details thereof. Omission of such mention is in accordance with general practice. 06101.
File No. 763.72114/3322
WASHINGTON, April 17, 1918. SIR: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of February 21, 1918, in which you quoted certain telegraphic correspondence with General Pershing on the subject of the disposal of prisoners of war and you request information as to whether any agreement has been made with the German Government regarding rules governing the disposal by one belligerent of the prisoners taken from the other belligerent. You also inquire whether any further action by the War Department in regard to the disposal of prisoners of war is necessary.
In reply I beg to call your attention to article 24 of the treaty of 1799 with Prussia, revived by the treaty of 1828, which is now regarded as in force. This article is as follows:
And to prevent the destruction of prisoners of war, by sending them into distant and inclement countries, or by crowding them into close and noxious places, the two Contracting Parties solemnly pledge themselves to the world and to each other, that they will not adopt, any such practice; that neither will send the prisoners whom they may take from the other into the East-Indies, or any other parts of Asia or Africa, but that they shall be placed in some parts of their dominions in Europe or America, in wholesome situations; that they shall not be confined in dungeons, prison-ships, nor prisons, nor be put into irons nor bound, nor otherwise restrained in the use of their limbs; that the officers shall be enlarged on their paroles within convenient districts and have comfortable quarters, and the common men be disposed in cantonments open and extensive enough for air and exercise, and lodged in barracks as roomly and good as are provided by the party in whose power they are, for their own troops; that the officers shall also be daily furnished by the party in whose power they are, with as many rations, and of the same articles and quality, as are allowed by them either in kind, or by commutation to officers of equal rank in their own army; and all others shall be daily furnished by them with such ration as they shall allow to a common soldier in their own service; the value whereof shall be paid by the other party on a mutual adjustment of accounts for the subsistence of prisoners at the close of the war; and the said accounts shall not be mingled with, or set off against any others, nor the balances due on them, be withheld as a satisfaction or reprizal for any other article, or for any other cause real or pretended, whatever. That each Party shall be allowed to keep a Commissary of prisoners of their own appointment, with every separate cantonment of prisoners in possession of the other, which commissary shall see the prisoners as often as he pleases; shall be allowed to receive and distribute whatever comforts may be sent to them by their friends, and shall be free to make his reports in open letters to those who employ him: but if any officer shall break his parole, or any other prisoner shall escape from the limits of his cantonment after they shall have been designated to him, such individual officer or other prisoner, shall forfeit so much of the benefit of this Article, as provides for his enlargement on parole or cantonment. And it is declared, that neither
the pretence, that War dissolves all treaties, nor any other whatever, shall be considered as annulling or suspending this and the next preceding Article; but on the contrary that the state of War, is precisely that for which they are provided, and during which they are to be as sacredly observed as the most acknowledged articles in the Law of nature and nations.
This Government, in the opinion of the Department, should comply with the foregoing treaty stipulation as nearly as the transportation facilities will allow, as it provides that prisoners “shall be placed in some parts of their dominions in wholesome situations." No reference is made in this article to the surrender of prisoners of war to an ally. If this were done, it is clear that our obligations under the treaty as to the housing and care of prisoners of war might not be carried out by the ally cobelligerent.
Aside from this treaty, prisoners of war appear to be cared for according to the individual views of the belligerents or under special agreement. In the Crimean War Great Britain and France, then allies, agreed to divide prisoners of war as far as possible equally between the two countries. Any such agreement now between us and the cobelligerents would, of course, be subject to the stipulations of our treaty with Prussia.
It is believed, therefore, that the plan of sending to the United States the prisoners of war captured by our military and naval forces to be retained here is the proper course to follow as Germany might insist that under the treaty they should be returned to the United States. While they are retained abroad, consideration must of course be given to the provision contained in the proposed agreement with Germany, with which you are familiar, that “at no time shall prisoners of war be required to work within twenty miles from the front."
It, therefore, appears that the details of the transportation of prisoners of war taken by the United States Army should be worked out by the War Department in accordance with the treaty stipulations mentioned above.
The foregoing information and opinions, so far as they apply to the Navy, have been brought to the attention of the Secretary of the Navy. I have [etc.]
ROBERT LANSING File No. 763.72114/3714 The Secretary of War (Baker) to the Secretary of State
WASHINGTON, June 14, 1918. SIR: Referring to recent correspondence between the State Department and the War Department with reference to bringing to this country the German prisoners of war captured by our troops, the following cablegram has been received from General Pershing:
In view of the fact that labor situation here has necessitated our asking French and British for use of their prisoners of war, the wisdom of our sending prisoners home will probably be questioned by French unless good reasons for our action can be advanced. Request that subject be considered from that standpoint. The same objection does not hold with reference to officer prisoners of war who could be sent to America for internment. Arrangements now completed with British and French for transfer to us of all prisoners of war captured by our forces.
I would be very glad to have the views of the State Department upon this subject from point of view suggested by General Pershing. Very truly yours,
NEWTON D. BAKER
File No. 763.72114/3714
The Secretary of State to the Secretary of War (Baker)
WASHINGTON, June 21, 1918. Sir: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of June 14, 1918, in which you quote a telegram from General Pershing respecting the wisdom of sending to the United States all prisoners of war captured by our forces, and request an expression of the views of the Department of State on this subject.
In reply I beg to inform you that article 24 of the treaty of 1799 with Germany, contains the only provisions with respect to the treatment of prisoners of war captured by the respective states, applicable at the present time. Aside from the provisions of this article, the question of the retention in Europe of German prisoners of war captured by our forces, would appear to be largely one of expediency.
While, under a strict interpretation of article 24 of the above treaty, the contracting parties might be required to place the prisoners of war captured from each other in some part of their respective territories, I am of the opinion that the retention of German prisoners of war by our forces in a country in Europe in which they happen temporarily to be located, would accord with the spirit of the treaty of 1799, if not entirely with its terms, and that as long as such prisoners are retained by our forces and are not surrendered to our cobelligerents, and are otherwise accorded the treatment provided for by article 24, it is improbable that any objection would be raised to their retention in Europe. I should add, however, that in case Germany should claim a violation of the treaty by the retention of German prisoners by our forces in Europe,