462.11 W 892/31a: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Chargé in Germany (Dresel)

51. Your 30, February 22, 3 p.m., regarding claims and commercial treaty. Please address a note to the Foreign Office in the sense of the following:

“My Government does not object to action looking to the negotiation of a commercial treaty; it will consider suggestions in relation to the subject which the German Government may desire to make; and it is prepared itself to submit in a short time a draft of a comprehensive commercial treaty for the German Government’s consideration.

“However, the negotiation of such a treaty should not stand in the way of nor delay action respecting determination of claims. In connection with the preliminary steps proposed by my Government, it is believed that it would facilitate prompt disposition of the matter if financial questions concerning particular methods of payment are not raised. But with a view to the ultimate appropriate disposition of such questions it is desirable that amounts of claims should be determined as soon as possible. It is not the intention of my Government that the mixed Commission to pass on claims which have [Page 242] been proposed should not consider questions of liability where the facts are in dispute. Rules of liability, however, are prescribed by the Treaty of Versailles and by the Treaty concluded between the United States and Germany at Berlin, August 25, 1921,85 which contemplates the making of suitable arrangements for the satisfaction of American claims arising out of acts committed by the German Government or its agents since July 31, 1914, and secures to the United States and its nationals rights and advantages stipulated for their benefit in the Treaty of Versailles.

The obligations of Germany which a mixed arbitral tribunal would pass upon can be briefly indicated as follows: (1) claims of American citizens in respect of damage to, or seizure of, their property, rights and interests within German territory; (2) other claims growing out of loss, damage or injury resulting from acts of the German Government or its agents; (3) debts owing to American citizens by the German Government or by German nationals.

In the opinion of my Government the amounts of all classes of claims could in the most practical manner be determined by a Mixed Commission of adequate membership organized under the general plan which has been suggested. The Government of the United States would be glad to be informed at an early date of the German Government’s views concerning these proposals.”

Following the presentation of a note in the sense of the foregoing, you will please supplement it in an interview with the German Foreign Minister and urge on him the desirability of prompt steps being taken with a view to having the amounts of debts and claims assessed.