462.00 R 296/39
The French Chargé (Laboulaye) to the Secretary of State
In the answer returned by the French Government to the British Government as to the appointment of committees of experts, reference is made to paragraph 7 of annex II to part VIII of the Treaty of Versailles, which makes it possible to appoint such committees.
Paragraph 9 of that Annex also enables the Commission to hear any evidence and arguments offered by Germany on any question connected with her capacity to pay. That paragraph is an interpretation of that part of Article 234 which says that the Reparations Commission shall from time to time consider the resources and capacity of Germany, and after giving her representatives a just opportunity to be heard, shall have etc. …
It appears from the foregoing that Germany is not to be represented on the committees of experts but that she may be heard by them and offer every argument in writing which need not be of German origin as it may be neutral or even allied. The experts or groups of experts cannot in any case encroach upon the powers of the Reparation Commission, which are determined by Article 234: it alone may: “extend the date and modify the form of payments such as are to be provided for in accordance with Article 233”.
Article 233 provides that in case Germany should fail to discharge her obligations in accordance with the schedule of payments drawn up by the Commission, any balance remaining unpaid may, within the discretion of the Commission, be postponed for settlement in subsequent years.
But the powers of the Commission go no further. It may not cancel any part (Article 234) except with the specific authority of the several governments represented upon the Commission; in addition, as provided by the last part of Article 233 the settlement of any unpaid balance may form the subject of different treatment under such conditions as may be fixed by the Allied Governments; that is to say again that although the Reparations Commission has the right to carry those balances over, it may not cancel any part thereof, as that action is determined by the Allied and Associated Governments.
It appears from those texts that while the Reparations Commission may decide as to the form of payments of the German debt, extend the date of such payments, or modify the form thereof, it cannot cancel any part whatsoever as remissions can only be granted by the unanimous action of the creditor powers.[Page 87]
France will not agree to a reconsideration of the amount of the debt as fixed on May 1, 1921, and will not acquiesce in any remission in the amount of Germany’s obligations as fixed by the Reparations Commission on May 1, 1921.