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Paris Peace Conf. 185.001/6

Mr. Norman H. Davis to Colonel E. M. House

Memorandum for Colonel House:

I learn from the French Treasury that the next conference at Spa will be held on the 14th instant, when it is expected most important questions will come up in connection with the extension of the armistice which expires on the 17th instant, and also that Count Leystere, the French Financial Representative to Spa, went to London this morning for a conference with the British Government relative to questions which are to be submitted at the conference. I have not been able to ascertain just what these important questions are, but am told that Count Leystere will get in touch with me on his return Saturday night.

In addition to the Armistice Conference, I am informed that there is a conference now in session at Mayence, attended by a representative of the French, British, Italian, and Belgian Governments and of the German Treasury and Imperial Bank. It was especially for this conference that the French suggested that our Government appoint a representative. As nearly as I can gather, this conference is being held for the purpose of ascertaining the amount of German securities and credits outside of Germany, the internal financial conditions of Germany, and also to take up financial questions involved in the armistice in respect to the amount of marks in circulation, payment of the expenses of the armies of occupation, and the payment for food supplies which may be permitted to go to Germany. If this conference is attempting to pass upon the manner in which Germany may pay for: importations of food, I think it a mistake, because this is essentially a question which should be taken up and disposed of by the Council which is being created for undertaking European relief.

It will be impossible for me to attend the conference at Spa and to attend and remain at the conference at Mayence, and also attend the [Page 558]meetings of the Relief Council and be available here for assistance on financial questions in connection with the Peace Commission. I am, therefore, as was suggested by the Peace Commission, taking Mr. F. A. Goodhue with me, who is in the Treasury organization, for the purpose of leaving him at Mayence to sit in the conference there and incidentally to obtain such additional information as may be possible in respect to the liquid assets of Germany and her ability to make reparation for the destruction and damage done by the German military and naval forces. If you think it necessary or advisable to obtain the President’s approval for this procedure, I will appreciate it if you will kindly take the matter up with him.