832.85/115: Telegram

The Acting Secretary of State to the Ambassador in France ( Wallace )

517. For Wallace and Rathbone.

Two notes recently received from Brazilian Embassy setting forth claims of Brazilian Government that it has definitely acquired title to 30 ex-German vessels. While various arguments and conclusions of law are presented, the main argument apparently is that under the Decree of June 2, 1917, (issued before her entrance into the war,) Brazil acquired title to vessels as reprisal for sinking by Germany of one or two Brazilian vessels.35

In reply, Brazilian Embassy informed that as question of title is one to be determined in accordance with applicable laws of Brazil, this Government is not in a position to express authoritative opinion on question, but that Brazil’s representation of the grounds of her title is not wholly convincing to the Department. Department also referred to its previous assurance that United States is willing to offer such support to Brazil as may be consistent with provisions of Wilson–Lloyd-George Agreement, and suggested that in view of the possibility of Allied and Associated Governments considering that title to vessels was not acquired by Brazil, the Brazilian Government might further desire to consider the advisability of adhering to that Agreement in order to participate in any advantages which may flow from it.

Should Reparations Commission contemplate giving consideration, at this time, to the question of ex-German vessels taken over by Brazil, endeavor to obtain a postponement of the matter until the arrival of the Brazilian Government’s delegation, which Department is informed will carry special instructions in the matter.

You may also, should opportunity arise, support in so far as proper and possible the request for the return of these vessels to Brazil upon expiration of Charter Agreement with France.