700.0011 R 34/1
Memorandum by the Secretary of State of a Conversation with the German Ambassador (Wiedfeldt), December 15, 1922
The Ambassador said that some months ago he had spoken to the Secretary of the essential points in establishing sound conditions in Europe. The first was the assurance of peace. He had spoken at that time in a general way of the necessity of finding some basis by which peace could be guaranteed. The Ambassador again referred to the apprehensions of France and stated that there was no danger of Germany attempting to make war upon France but that it was desirable that the French fear should be removed if possible.
The Ambassador said that his Government was now prepared to make a more definite suggestion. That suggestion was to the effect that the Powers especially concerned with the Rhine, such as Great Britain, France, Germany and Italy, should enter into an agreement that neither one of them would engage in a war with any of the others for a generation without putting the matter to a popular vote. The Secretary asked if this was a definite proposal and not conditioned upon anything else. The Ambassador said that it was. The Secretary asked what was meant by a “generation”. The Ambassador said a period of, say, thirty years. The Secretary asked whether it referred to a war in which all the Powers mentioned were engaged or a war between any two or more of them. The Ambassador said that he referred to the latter. It would not, however, refer to a war with some other Power as for example between France and Turkey.[Page 204]
The Secretary asked whether it was the desire of the German Government that the Secretary should in his discretion ascertain informally or otherwise whether such a suggestion was acceptable. The Ambassador said that that was the desire; that they desired in some way to put the matter in the hands of the United States Government; that they would welcome any arrangement by which the Government of the United States would in a sense be a “trustee” to see that the arrangement was carried out or to take any action in the matter that the United States thought to be practicable.
The Secretary said he was glad to receive the suggestion and he would give it consideration. It was gratifying to note the desire of the German Government to remove the apprehension of war.
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