Volume #14 - 1103.|
EUROPE, THE SOVIET UNION AND THE MIDDLE EAST
DETENTION OF WELD AND CLABON
Secretary of State for External Affairs|
to Heads of Post Abroad
CIRCULAR DOCUMENT SPECIAL No. 4|
February 9th, 1948|
You have already been advised in the Minutes of the Meetings of the Heads of Divisions † and in Press Releases Nos. 63 † and 64 † of November 21st and November 24th respectively of the detention on November 12th, 1947, of Mr. J.D.M. Weld and Captain A.W. Clabon of the Canadian Military Mission, Berlin, by the Soviet authorities after these officers had crossed into the Soviet-administered part of former East Prussia on their return journey from Warsaw to Berlin
2. In a note to the Canadian Embassy in Moscow, dated November 23rd, † the Soviet Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated that the investigation made by the Soviet authorities into this incident showed that Mr. Weld and Captain Clabon had entered the territory of the Soviet Union illegally. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs protested this illegal crossing of the border by the members of the Canadian Military Mission and expressed its conviction that measures would be taken by the Canadian authorities to prevent a recurrence of such actions in the future. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs also informed the Embassy that, taking into consideration the Embassy's request, the Soviet authorities had given permission for Mr. Weld and Captain Clabon to leave for Poland.
3. After the release of these officers on November 23rd† and their return to Berlin, a committee of senior officers of the Department was formed to investigate the circumstances surrounding this episode. On February 4th†, on instructions from the Department, the Chargé d'Affaires of the Canadian Embassy in Moscow delivered a note to the Soviet Foreign Ministry in reply to the Ministry's note of November 23rd†. The text of this note is attached. In presenting the note to the Soviet Foreign Ministry, the Chargé d'Affaires added orally that it was the intention of the Canadian Government to arrange for the transfer of Mr. Weld and Captain Clabon from the Canadian Military Mission in Berlin as soon as suitable replacements were available. He also stated that, although the Canadian Government appreciated that it had been informed without delay of the detention, and that the two telegrams from the detained officers had been delivered to the Embassy, the Canadian Government would have wished that the Soviet Government could have responded to the Embassy's requests for telephone communication and visiting facilities. It was stated in reply that the absence of telephone communication and the wilderness of the country made it difficult to meet the Embassy's requests.
4. It is a matter of good fortune that the episode was not developed by the Soviet Government as an attempt at espionage. The Soviet Government has always treated foreigners with suspicion, but lately even the most minor incident has been magnified and distorted into a pretext to accuse foreigners of unauthorized activities and to discredit them in the eyes of the Soviet people. It is hardly necessary, therefore, to impress upon the members of Canadian Missions the necessity of exercising extreme care and circumspection if they are travelling in Eastern Europe. While officers are usually aware of the special conditions which exist in Eastern Europe, it may not at times be realized that the smallest incident may have very wide repercussions and cause considerable embarrassment to the Canadian Government.
5. A member of a Canadian Mission should therefore not travel to any country of Eastern Europe in which there is a Canadian Mission without first, through his own Head of Mission, informing that Mission and securing its approval of his itinerary and other arrangements, and he should adhere strictly to his itinerary. These rules apply to the Soviet Zone of Germany, to Poland, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, and the U.S.S.R. He should not travel in the Soviet Zone of Austria, to Bulgaria, Roumania or Hungary without first securing the permission of his Head of Mission and of this Department.
I have etc.
TEXT OF NOTE DELIVERED TO THE SOVIET MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS
The Canadian Embassy presents its compliments to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the U.S.S.R. and in reply to Note No. 40/2E-Ka of November 23 from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs concerning Mr. J.M. Weld and Captain A.W. Clabon has the honour to inform the Soviet Government of the results of the investigation which the Canadian Government has made of the circumstances attending the detention by the Soviet authorities of Mr. Weld and Captain Clabon, members of the staff of the Canadian Military Mission in Berlin.
2. The investigation reveals that Lt.-Gen. Maurice Pope, the Chief of the Canadian Military Mission in Berlin, gave permission to Mr. Weld and Captain Clabon to be absent from Berlin for the week-end of November 8 to 11 in order that they might pay a personal and unofficial visit to Warsaw where they wished to call on their friends at the Canadian Legation. It was General Pope's understanding that they would go to Warsaw via Wroclaw (formerly Breslau) and return to Berlin by a route no less direct. Before leaving Berlin they secured visas from the Soviet and Polish authorities.
3. While ill Warsaw, without advising General Pope, Mr. Weld and Captain Clabon decided to return to Berlin by a northern route via Allenstein. Danzig, and Stettin. On aniving in Allenstein they were informed that they could not proceed to Danzig by highway 133 (the direct route) as the bridges were out. They therefore decided to proceed north on main highway 128, in order to connect with the autobahn to Danzig, which, they thought, would enable them to reach Berlin in the shortest time.
4. Their decision to take this route resulted in their crossing into that part of East Prussia which is now administered as part of the Soviet Union.
5. The evidence does not establish that either Mr. Weld or Captain Clabon knowingly or wilfully violated the regulations of the U.S.S.R. or that either of them was aware that he was entering territory not covered by his visas. Nevertheless, it is established that these officers did in fact cross into territory administered as part of the Soviet Union. This crossing would have been avoided if Mr. Weld and Captain Clabon had exercised better judgment.
6. Mr. Weld and Captain Clabon have been suitably admonished and counselled for the future. Measures have also been taken to prevent the recurrence of such happenings.
7. The Canadian Government regrets greatly the inconvenience to the Soviet Govemment which was occasioned by Mr. Weld and Captain Clabon and desires to take advantage of this opportunity to express to the Soviet Government its appreciation of the despatch with which the Soviet Government completed its investigation and facilitated the return of these persons to Berlin.