The Italian Ambassador ( Macchi di Cellere ) to the Secretary of State

My Dear Mr. Secretary: In a communication which I have just received from Baron Sonnino he states that numerous Italians, on account of commercial and family reasons, have important interests and property rights in the enemy countries. In the same position there are evidently many citizens of all the allied countries and of the United States. Granted that the enemy countries shall have to pay indemnities, these citizens, who have already suffered great damages during the state of war, would be subjected to the assessment of their properties towards the payment of such indemnities, obviously against all principles of right and equity.

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Baron Sonnino goes on to say that it would be necessary, consequently, to put in the peace treaty either a clause exempting all real and personal property belonging to citizens of the Entente in enemy countries from the imposition of any tax, direct or indirect, for the payment of war indemnities; or a clause providing for the establishment of a special indemnity to be used for the reimbursement of those citizens who in enemy countries would be obliged to pay special taxes for the war indemnity.

As Baron Sonnino expresses a desire to be informed as to the attitude of the United States on this subject, I should appreciate it very much if you will let me know.2

With assurances [etc.]

Macchi di Cellere
  1. On Dec. 24, 1918, the Italian Chargé was informed that “this question will receive the attentive consideration of this Government.”