File No. 300.115/3051a
The Foreign Trade Adviser of the Department of State (Rose) to the Commercial Adviser of the British Embassy (Crawford)
My Dear Sir Richard : Relative to our conversation on the subject of submitting evidence to you as to “American ownership” of goods in Germany, and of facilitating the transportation of such goods [Page 210] to this country, I shall be pleased to cooperate with you in the matter of securing and classifying the evidence. As I understand the matter, the proof to be submitted to you is to be:
- Where possible, bank drafts, or other bank evidence showing that actual payment for the goods has been made.
- Proof that payment for the goods has been made through standing open bank accounts in Germany.
- The identification of the goods which have been paid for and evidence as to the fact that they are the actual goods for which payment has been made.
In order to intelligently place before you evidence in this matter, I should like to be informed as to other points relative to the meaning of “American ownership,” which information you no doubt can get from your Government.
(1) In the case of specific definite orders given German houses by American firms prior to March 2, and which are now either at a port for delivery, in the factory or in warehouses, but for which the actual money has not been paid, but for the payment of which the American buyers are legally and morally liable, would such property be considered “American-owned”?
To illustrate this point: Mr. Wolf, who called with me yesterday, is an importer of Christmas goods. These goods are made, we will say, by the process of lithography. He must place his order for these goods long before they are actually finished. He placed his order last fall for delivery this spring. The lithographers immediately went to work on this special order and the goods are now finished and ready for delivery. Mr.Wolf has a financial standing in Germany and was not required to make payment in advance for the goods. He feels that he is bound under his contract to pay for these goods, and while the actual money has not been paid (because of Mr.Wolf’s financial standing in Germany), he is morally and legally obligated, regardless of shipment. He feels that he has an equitable ownership of the goods, and inasmuch as he is liable for the payment therefor, he would be the injured party, and not the German manufacturer.
(2) Information is also desired as to the attitude of your Government in its treatment of bona fide contracts made prior to March 2 for specific shipment of goods to be delivered at a later date, and for which the actual money has not been paid. Mr. Wolf, in his position as president of the American Chamber of Commerce of Berlin, represents the leading American importers, and a great many of them have contracts for specific orders. They desire the goods covered by those specific orders. These orders do not extend away into the future, but are for specific goods which are now ready for shipment.
If you will be good enough to ascertain the position of your Government in these matters, and to obtain an expression from your Government as to their attitude in regard to the term “American-owned” in the above instances, I am certain it will greatly simplify matters here.
With renewed expressions of my great appreciation of your many kindnesses, I am [etc.]