File No. 654.119/10

The French Ambassador ( Jusserand) to the Secretary of State 1


Mr. Secretary of State: My Government informs me that upon the recommendation of the International Commission on Quotas that has been approved by the Allied Governments represented thereon, it has been decided to set the quota of machine tools for Switzerland at zero. The measure is intended to prevent the Swiss factories that are working for the enemy from receiving appliances which they could put to that use.

On the other hand, it is important to have exceptions made in favor of the factories that are working for the Allies. To accomplish this the Government of the Republic suggests that the following principle be adopted: No machine tools will be allowed to be exported to Switzerland without a permit from the French and Italian Commissions on Exceptions; these commissions furthermore would not allow the passage through the territory of their respective countries except upon investigations by and the recommendation of the technical departments of the Allied Legations at Berne. The transit license issued by them in such cases would constitute a certificate of legitimate destination which should be taken into account in the exporting country. The Allied technical departments at Berne would thus be relieved of any actual accountability for the refusals met by some applications, which they themselves would not be called upon to render.

Since nearly all machine tools come from the United States at present, I am instructed to inquire of Your Excellency whether the [Page 1174] Federal Government would be inclined to concur in this procedure and only allow machine tools to be exported to Switzerland when a transit license shall have been issued by the French or Italian Commission on Exceptions, that is to say when a friendly destination shall have been proved.

In emergency cases the transit license would be delivered at the American Embassies at Paris or at Rome to enable them to notify by cable the American customs that they should allow the machinery to go.

In asking me to formulate this request, my Government directs me to make it clear that no decision will be reached with respect to such shipments without a previous understanding among the Allied departments at Berne and that it is only intended to utilize existing services in obtaining the common goal, which is to prevent by every available means our adversaries from making, through neutrals, use of the resources at the command of the Allies.

I should be very thankful to Your Excellency if you would let me know at your earliest convenience whether the Federal Government is, as the French Government fondly hopes it is, disposed to concur in its views and adopt the above-stated procedure.

Be pleased to accept [etc.]

  1. A similar communication was received from the Italian Ambassador Sept. 8 (File No. 654.119/15). A British memorandum received Sept. 8 endorsed the position of the French Government (File No. 654.119/14).