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United States Department of State / Foreign relations of the United States diplomatic papers, 1937. The British Commonwealth, Europe, Near East and Africa

Germany,   pp. 319-405 PDF (32.6 MB)

Page 396

titled to American citizenship and the protection and assistance of
this Government as such a citizen. I said that unfortunately it had
not been possible to arrive at the definitive conclusion with regard
to his nationality until a few days ago when the Department had
decided definitely that Helmut Hirsch was entitled to American
citizenship. This decision was reached after Hirsch's trial and after
sentence upon him had been passed; that immediately upon reaching
this determination of his citizenship, the Department had taken steps
to inquire through our Embassy in Berlin as to the nature of the
charges which had been brought against Hirsch and had sought and
obtained an interview with him. I stated to the Ambassador that the
objective of my visit was to explain the nature of the delay in our
Government's entering the case and to ask him, in the event of his
feeling disposed to do so, to convey these explanations to the German
Government and to ask that any final action or disposition of the case
be postponed for sufficient time to permit the Secretary to inform
himself of all of the facts connected with the case and to communicate
with the German Government in the premises. I further said that we
had been informed that Hirsch's legal counsel had presented a plea
for clemency which we understood could only be acted upon by the
Reiclischancellor and that our Embassy in Berlin already had instruc-
tions to support the German counsel in his plea for clemency. I
stated that if the Ambassador also felt so disposed, we would be glad
to have him transmit to his Government our hope that Hirsch's plea
for clemency be granted, thus paving the way for a commutation of
the sentence.
  The Ambassador treated me with every consideration in receiving
me thus on Sunday morning and in listening to the statements and
explanations I made to him. Upon my having delivered this message
from the Secretary to him, he stated that in his opinion this case, al-
though he was without any information on it directly from his For-
eign Office, was one related to the commission of a crime for which
the punishment provided by German law was extremely severe. He
said that the law providing for such punishment was not new but
had existed for many years in Germany; he said that, according to
his information, the punishment for a similar crime in this country
would be equally drastic and severe just as it would in many countries.
He also referred to the Hauptmann case and recalled that although
the German Embassy and authorities had followed closely every phase
of the arrest, trial and conviction of Bruno Hauptmann, the man who
Mx as convicted of implication in the kidnapping of the Lindbergh baby
and executed therefor, they had after due deliberation decided not to
make any representations whatever as they considered the matter to
be one of due process of law following the commission of a crime
against the laws of this country.

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