462.11 W 892/49 Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Ambassador in Germany ( Houghton )

105. Your 153, August 2, 6 P.M.

In view of the last communication received by you from the German Government regarding the proposed claims agreement, it appears that the agreement, with slight modification, can be promptly signed. It is understood that the draft transmitted with Department’s instruction No. 3055 of June 23 is acceptable, except that the second sentence in Article II relating to the umpire will be changed to read “The two Governments shall by agreement select an umpire to decide upon any cases concerning which the Commissioners may disagree, or upon any points of difference that may arise in the course of their proceedings”. It is understood that this change does not imply any difference in the actual agreement for the selection by the President and it is further understood that simultaneously with the signing of the agreement the German Government will present a note requesting the President to designate an umpire.

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With reference to the German Government’s request with respect to a declaration on the part of the Government of the United States more particularly defining the claims to be presented to the Commission, it is believed that satisfactory explanation and assurances can be given to the German Government on that point. The President of the United States has not the authority to waive rights secured by the Treaty of August 25, 1921, nor is he in a position to make any declaration with respect to the power of Congress over sequestered property which is fixed by statute. However, you are authorized by the President to state that he has no intention of pressing against Germany or of presenting to the Commission established under the claims agreement any claims not covered by the Treaty of August 25, 1921, or any claims falling within paragraphs 5 to 7 inclusive of the Annex following Article 244 of the Treaty of Versailles.

This Government considers it inadvisable to incorporate into the agreement an article fixing a time limit for the presentation of claims. It is not altogether clear what the German Government has in mind with respect to such an article. If agents or counsel should be excluded from appearing before the Commission after the time limit fixed by such an article, it would seem probable that the work of the Commission might be greatly delayed instead of being expedited, since obviously the presentation of claims in the best possible form would facilitate the work of the Commission. This Government is as desirous, as is the German Government, of hastening the work. It would, therefore, be willing to have a separate understanding by an exchange of notes with the German Government regarding the filing of notices of all claims within a reasonable, specified period, as for example six months. Communicate with Foreign Office in sense of foregoing. Power to sign agreement is being telegraphed to you. Before signing please telegraph Department with respect to consummation of all preliminary arrangements,

[Paraphrase.] In view of situation here created by introduction of the Underwood Bill it is very important that this agreement should be concluded at the earliest possible moment. As an Executive agreement that is clearly within the precedents, it will take effect when signed. We desire it to be arranged that the President may at once announce Germany’s request that he should appoint the umpire and the appointment of Justice Day. The announcement should be made simultaneously with the publication of the agreement. Until this announcement nothing should be given to the press. You should cable arrangements so that publication may be made on same day here and in Berlin. [End paraphrase.]