The Secretary of State to the Minister in Poland ( Gibson )
34. Your 75, April 13, 10 p.m.
You are instructed to address a formal note to the Minister of Foreign Affairs embodying the following.
“The Government of the United States is informed that the Polish authorities have definitely declined to entertain an application which has been made by the United States Lines for a license to engage in the transportation of third class passengers from Poland. It is understood that this decision is based upon objection on the part of the Polish authorities to the desire of the United States Lines to transport third class passengers by rail to Bremen for embarkation at the terminals maintained by the United States Lines at that port.
It does not appear necessary to enter into a discussion of the detailed reasons which are understood to have been advanced by the Polish authorities in support of their objection. The point which presents itself to the Government of the United States as of essential importance, necessitating official intervention, is the discrimination against the United States Lines which is considered to have arisen.
It is the understanding of the Government of the United States that various foreign competitors of the United States Lines are permitted, under existing licenses, to ship third class passengers across Germany by rail to the respective terminal ports of these lines. It is understood that the French Line is permitted to transfer third class passengers in this way to Cherbourg and the Red Star Line to Antwerp. A denial of like facilities to the United States Lines, which maintain terminals at Bremen, presents itself to this Government as manifestly discriminatory.
The fact that the terminals of the foreign lines in question are maintained at what may be described as their home ports is not, in the opinion of the United States, important. It is evident that American shipping lines cannot have home ports in Europe. They must, as a practical matter, establish their European terminals where they may conduct their business in the most satisfactory and economical manner. It is understood that the United States Lines are prepared to give the same guarantees with respect to the welfare and health of third class passengers in transit as may be required from competing lines.[Page 747]
The Government of the United States makes no objection to any desire which may exist on the part of the Polish authorities to build up the port of Danzig in connection with the Polish emigration business, but cannot consent that this should be done by any arrangement which does not assure to American shipping companies, and to American interests in general, equality of treatment with respect to their foreign competitors.
The Government of the United States is confident that the Government of Poland, upon a consideration of the matter as now presented, will acquiesce in the opinion of the Government of the United States that the reported refusal of the Polish authorities to entertain the application of the United States Lines for a license enabling them to forward third class passengers by rail to their Bremen terminal constitutes discrimination against the United States Lines in favor of foreign competitors and is a denial of that fair and equivalent treatment upon which the Government of the United States must insist.”
The same has this afternoon been handed to the Polish Minister here and he has been apprised of the importance which this Government attaches to the matter.