4a. Informal reservation by the unofficial representative of the United States on the Reparation Commission, presented August 27, 19201

In connection with the inter-Allied agreement signed at Spa (annex 345) which has been presented to the Reparation Commission, the United States Unofficial Delegate desires to place on record a formal reserve with respect to the rights of the United States, id est, which, either in case of ratification or non-ratification of the treaties or any portion of them, may be affected thereby. Subject to the foregoing reserve he states further that certain indications of the agreement constrain him to decline to assent thereto and even to protest against its acceptance by the Commission.

In explanation of the foregoing and without attempting to make a complete statement of objections he expresses opinion that:

The agreement is in direct conflict with the provisions of the treaty with Germany. In view of the emphasis, which both at the beginning and since the end of the war, has been placed on Germany’s failure to respect her treaty obligations, any tendency in this same direction shown by Germany’s critics needs no comment.
The influence which such an agreement inevitably exercises upon the personal opinion of the members of the Commission is in itself objectionable. If to that influence is added the pressure of direct instructions to the delegates, the status of the Commission under the treaty is threatened. It is no longer a judicial body, it has become a mere registering machine controlled by governments in their own interests.
Specifically, the provisions with respect to ex-enemy ships prescribe an arbitrary method of valuation which has no relation to [Page 861] established principles, either of law or equity, which conflicts with the treaty provisions and which is unfair to the ex-enemy powers.
The provisions of articles 6, 7 and 8 denying to Germany credit for certain property and for the use of certain ships are attempts to deprive the Commission of jurisdiction in matters of which the treaty makes the Commission the sole judge. The provisions of articles 7 and 8 are in direct conflict with opinions rendered by our legal service.

The specific objections to which I have called attention would no longer exist if the assent of ex-enemy countries interested were obtained or if arrangements were made with ex-enemy countries interested such that future indemnity payments would have no relation to the deliveries in question or if the provisions of the inter-allied agreement were treated as arrangements for inter-allied accounting and not as changes in the treaty provisions. I express the hope that some one of these solutions may be adopted.

To avoid misunderstanding the undersigned will add that there can be no objection in principle to treaty changes which in the light of experience commend themselves to all parties concerned. He is strongly of opinion that experience has shown that important changes are desirable particularly from the point of view of those powers most interested in realizing substantial indemnity from Germany.

  1. File 462.00 R 29/334. Cf. Foreign Relations, 1920, ii, 421, 424.