462.00 R 296/16

The British Chargé ( Chilton ) to the Secretary of State

My Dear Mr. Secretary: I enclose herein an Aide-Mémoire recording the communication which I made to you this morning.

I am [etc.]

H. G. Chilton

The British Chargé ( Chilton ) to the Secretary of State


The extremely critical economic position that has arisen in Europe owing to the failure to discover any solution of the reparation problem which, as the political and financial condition of Germany grows worse, becomes daily more acute, is already known to the United States Government through information which reaches America. That unity of thought which either renders common action possible or will be successful in finding an early solution appears to be lacking among the European Powers. During the past nine months a series of proposals have been made by His Majesty’s Government to their Allies for meeting these difficulties. [Page 69] Unfortunately, none of them has met with a sufficient measure of acceptance to result in common action. And yet, failing such action, not only Germany but Europe seems to be drifting into economic disaster.

In the circumstances, His Majesty’s Government have for long entertained the belief that the cooperation of the United States Government is an essential condition of any real advance towards settlement. By her position and history America is more disinterested than any of the European Powers. Nevertheless, the solution of the European problem is of direct and vital concern to her if for no other reason than because the question of inter-allied debt is involved therein. In last December when Mr. Hughes made his declaration both Great Britain and Germany made it clear that the proffered assistance would be warmly welcomed by them, and His Majesty’s Government has always heartily approved the suggestion whenever it has been revived—a different view has hitherto been taken by the French Government. So far as His Majesty’s Government are aware, the sole reason why the proposal has not been proceeded with is this lack of unanimity.

The manner in which, in the opinion of the United States Government, united action which is desired by all, could best be attained, was actually occupying the attention of His Majesty’s Government when the morning press of October 11th published a declaration said to have been made by the President of the United States that the opinion of his Government rested on its proposal of last December. This declaration was warmly welcomed by His Majesty’s Government who hope that they are justified in inferring from it that America will render the promised cooperation if the European Powers will join in such an enquiry.

If the statement of the President has been rightly interpreted by His Majesty’s Government and if they may rely on an encouraging reception being given to such a proceeding, they will not hesitate to invite the immediate cooperation of their European Allies in addressing an invitation to the United States Government to take part in the proposed enquiry by deputing a delegation, either official or unofficial. On the other hand, if although complete unanimity had not been forthcoming in Europe it were nevertheless proposed to hold such an enquiry, could American cooperation still be hoped for by His Majesty’s Government and the majority of the Allies? Alternatively, would America still be willing to participate, were it proposed that this enquiry should be entrusted to the Separation Commission or to some other body appointed by it?

His Majesty’s Government, speaking in the name of the whole British Empire as represented at the Imperial Conference now assembled [Page 70] in London, firmly believe that the United States Government has it in its power to render a great service to the security and peace of the world, and it is in this belief that they desire to associate themselves with the renewal of the President’s proposal; and any suggestion which the United States Government may be disposed to offer in reply to the questions which Lord Curzon has ventured to put will be gladly received.