Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

United States Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary to the Netherlands John W. Garrett to Secretary of War Newton D. Baker

          PARAPHRASE.                       Sept. 18, 1918.

To:    American Embassy, London.

From:  American Embassy, Paris, signed “SHARP”1

Dated: Sept. 18, 11 a.m.

Received: Sept. 18, 10:11 p.m.

NO      315

This cable for the Secretary of War:

          “Members of the Prisoner of War Commission who are Army or Navy men propose and endorse a rank for rank and head for jead repatriation and exchange of all combatant war prisoners with the exception of crews and officers of U-boats, after they have been interned or captured or <b>oth for at least 18 months. Substantially this is the latest British-German Agreement, though it has not yet been ratified. But in that it includes all commissioned officers, which the French-German Agreement does not, it differs from the latter agreement.

          These men propose and wish to see the internment in neutral European countries at once of all captured officers with the exception of the personnel of submarines without consideration of numbers or rank. This is to be brought about on individual paroles not to serve their Governments in any way during internment or to escape and the Governments contracting agree not to accept the services of such officers but to reintern them should they break their paroles and get away.

          These two propositions are put forth as having no valid military objections and as being in the interest of civilised treatment of prisoners. But then, suggestion is made that the differences between the first proposition and the French agreement might cause some embarrassment to the French Government by arousing a popular cry for a <F>rench Agreement on similar lines, and that this exchange of officers might be to Germany’s advantage from a military point of view.

          Objections might be raised to the second proposition that embarrassing demands would be made to the French and British Governments by their people for new agreements more like ours if we were to give our captured officers a more favourable status than theirs.

          It is desirable that an agreed policy be reached on the part of the Allies for obvious reasons, but before the Berne meeting this is rendered impossible because of the shortage time.

          Secretaries of State and Navy2 have been given copies of this cable for an expression of their views and your views would be gladly received at the earliest possible moment on these two propositions.

Chairman GARRETT3                             Sharp

MR. SHOECRAFT

Copies sent to Naval and Military attaches for information.

Source Note: Cy, DNA, RG 45, Entry 517B

Footnote 1: United States Ambassador to France William G. Sharp.

Footnote 2: Robert Lansing and Josephus Daniels.

Footnote 3: Garrett served as the Chairman of a joint committee in charge of negotiating an agreement with Germany on the exchange of American and German prisoners of war.

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