124.62/62: Telegram

The Commission to Negotiate Peace to the Secretary of State

4472. For Phillips from Polk.

American Mission’s 4328, September 23.7 While sending of a military attaché or other military representatives to Berlin seems altogether inadvisable, I am of the opinion that the situation is such that the appointment of some American representatives at the [Page 242] present moment should be very seriously considered. As the appointment of a chargé or diplomatic agent appears to be impracticable a commissioner might be named who would have similar functions to those of Halstead8 at Vienna. Such a commissioner would at the same time be able to perform among others the following important duties:

He could gradually pave the way, in cooperation with the Spanish Embassy, for the resumption of regular diplomatic relations.
He could unofficially make representations and aid in supplying pressure in cases of urgent importance as, for instance, German activities in the Baltic provinces.
He could give the present German Government support and encouragement when advisable.
By informal intercourse with members of the Government and other persons of knowledge and standing he could secure a more intimate insight into the political situation than is now being obtained.
He could organize a bureau for investigation of economic and financial conditions and for forwarding reports on these subjects to Washington.
He could exercise a salutary control over the very numerous commercial and other travelers of American nationality who are now entering Germany in large numbers and he could report on their activities.

I am convinced that our policy of continued and complete aloofness from the present German Government is unjustified now that our citizens are allowed to enter Germany in large numbers and that our Allies are straining every nerve to reestablish commercial relations. Owing to the great dependence of Germany on the United States for its necessities, present and future, and to the fact that we are still more trusted in Germany than any other nation we are in a position readily to establish points of [contact] which will aid in the rehabilitation of Germany and indirectly in that of the whole of Europe.

The present Government, though acknowledged to be weak even, by its representatives here in France, has withstood many todays [storms] and the constant prophecies by superficial observers that it was tottering to its fall have not been fulfilled. The reactionaries on one side and the extreme radicals on the other are still threatening its existence but so far it has been able to maintain itself not by support from without but by help of a dormant public opinion which dreads the result of a swing of the pendulum in either direction and the almost inevitable chaos which would ensue. The test will undoubtedly come this winter when living conditions, principally from scarcity of coal, will be difficult and it may well be said that assistance, [Page 243] however indirect, which could be given by a competent American representative would have an exceedingly beneficial result in the direction of stabilization.

It is needless to add that the selection of such commissioner should be made with great care. He should be, so far as possible, unprejudiced in his sympathies, strict, of wide previous experience and generally familiar with political and economic problems. I shall be very glad to get your comments on these suggestions and if you approve of plan will, if you wish, endeavor to submit recommendations as to who is best qualified for the position. Polk.

American Mission
  1. Not printed.
  2. Albert Halstead, American Commissioner at Vienna; see vol. i, p. 188.