462.00 R 29/735: Telegram

The Commissioner at Berlin (Dresel) to the Secretary of State

484. Following is translation of a memorandum dated May 4th and handed me today by the Foreign Office which will be published tomorrow:

“The German Government received the memorandum of the Government of the United States on May 3rd from Mr. Dresel and Germany appreciates greatly the serious efforts of the United States Government to find an amicable solution of the reparations question, this great and vital question of Germany and the whole world. She regrets that the American Government has not been able to perceive in the German proposals which have been transmitted a basis for negotiations acceptable to the Allied Governments. The German Government in agreement with the German people is firmly decided now as before to satisfy up to the limits of the capacity of Germany the obligations to reparations defined by the Versailles Treaty. Influenced by this point of view, the German Government had already at the conference of experts in Brussels, which had the purpose of creating objective bases for the capacity of Germany, given the most complete insight into the economic and financial situation of Germany. Germany would also at the present moment gladly have been prepared to follow the advice of the American Government and make immediate and direct proposals regarding the reparation question [Page 56] to the Allied Governments as recommended in the American memorandum. Unfortunately however following most careful consideration of the advice given the conclusion had to be reached that the present situation made it impossible to work out new proposals which could have satisfied the memorandum according to the views of the Allies. The difficulty of an agreement is still to be found in the divergent estimation of German industry of which the capacity according to article 232 of the peace of Versailles forms the limit of Germany’s obligations. The German Government is not in a position from its own knowledge to determine the capacity of Germany as such capacity is dependent on the development of the basis of German economic life and on the cooperation of Germany with the community of nations. The German Government believes that it would be added dishonor if it made engagements which would soon show themselves unfulfillable. By such offers the general feeling would take over the responsibility for all evil which might result later from the impossibility of performance. The elaboration of new proposals was again made difficult to the German Government by the fact that in the meantime the Reparation Commission in accordance with its powers resulting from the Treaty of Versailles had determined the amount of the German reparation debt and that we had to expect immediate communications on the subject.

The German Government will further do all that is possible in order to come to an agreement on the reparation question. It must however emphasize that one nation alone has not the power to make amends for the damage caused by the war and that such reparation is only possible by means of free and unrestrained cooperation of all civilized nations. Germany is willing in this to assume the greatest burden. It relies however on assistance of other countries and not in the least degree on that of the United States of America.”