The Secretary of State to President Harding

My Dear Mr. President: The identic note to the Allied Powers with respect to our right to be paid the cost of our Army of Occupation [Page 212] in Germany was delivered yesterday37 and was published in this morning’s newspapers.

The Secretary of War informed me yesterday that he had sent a cable message to the Commanding General of the American Forces at Coblenz, stating that the President had decided to return to the United States all troops of his command with the exception of the Graves Registration Service, and that it was desired that all the troops should leave Europe before June 30, 1922, if practicable.

I had an interview with the Secretary of War yesterday afternoon, and, in the light of my recent interview with you upon this subject, I took the liberty of suggesting that the Secretary of War might notify General Allen38 not to communicate this order officially to the Inter-Allied Rhineland Commission or otherwise to the Allied Powers, so that it would still remain a matter of our domestic arrangements which we could deal with as events would seem to make it advisable.

I have no objection to the policy of withdrawing the American troops from, Germany as soon as it may be found consistent with our interests to do so, but I should regret a formal communication to the Allied Powers at this time that all our troops are to be withdrawn before the end of June. In view of the unsettled question as to the payment of our Army costs, it seems to me prudent that we should do nothing which might have the effect of postponing an early and satisfactory adjustment. If we were to take a final position that the troops were to be wholly withdrawn very shortly, it might possibly have the effect of prolonging and making more difficult the negotiations, whereas a little temporizing in this matter might give us an opportunity which we could turn to our advantage. I do not think that either the Allies or Germany desire us to withdraw our troops altogether. Such have been the indications in recent despatches. I note that the New York Herald correspondent recently reported that some French high officials were known to be personally in favor of the immediate payment of some fraction of the indebtedness to us, and in view of the difficulty of collection, I should like to take such a course as would intensify this desire to make some immediate payment.

The leaving of a small detachment of American troops, under provision for the payment of their current cost, would be a small matter compared with the advantage we might have in an adjustment for our large bill for accumulated costs.

I have no desire to press this matter against any clear conviction you may have reached, but I trust that there will be no irrevocable [Page 213] decision until all these circumstances have been carefully considered.

I am [etc.]

Charles E. Hughes
  1. See telegram no. 90, Mar. 20, to the Ambassador in France, p. 220.
  2. Commander of the American Army of Occupation and unofficial observer on the Rhineland High Commission.