The French Chargé (Laboulaye) to the Secretary of State


Mr. Secretary of State: As Your Excellency knows, an international committee was appointed in Paris in 1920 to settle the question of the credits needed by certain countries such as Austria, Hungary, Poland, Rumania, Czechoslovakia, the Baltic and the Caucasian states, to insure their economic recuperation. The United States of America, England, Denmark, Norway, the Netherlands, Sweden, and Switzerland gave their assistance to this undertaking in various forms.97

In October 1921, on the eve of adjourning, the International Commission on “Relief Credits” had offered the advice that a coordinating agency should be maintained between the lending and borrowing countries. The French Government, for its part, thought that in accordance with the suggestions of several members of the Commission, Mr. de Haller, former president of the Swiss National Bank and a delegate to the conference, was particularly well qualified to take that part of intermediary or “trustee”, but it does not seem that any action was ever taken on the suggestion. The fact that there is no special appropriation to compensate even in a meager way the person who would take charge of those duties, obviously adds to the difficulties that the question carries.

However, considering the propositions that have been received separately by a number of the lending states from certain borrowing states in the last few months, with a view either to determining how the payment of their debts should be made or to obtaining postponements, and owing, on the other hand, to the difficulties and delays which unavoidably spring from the exchange of correspondence between the several governments concerned, the Government of the Republic deems it more and more indispensable, if a practical solution is to be reached, to create a centralizing organ which would [Page 128] coordinate the steps taken toward the settlement of the claims flowing from the relief credits.

Among these several institutions now in existence capable of performing the task above referred to, the financial committee of the League of Nations would appear, in my Government’s opinion, to be particularly well fitted for its successful accomplishment. It would, however, have no objection to offer to having such an organization as the Control Committee of the Austrian Loan, for instance, charged with the same duties, but it may be remarked in this connection that in order to perform its duties with greater judgment it would be advisable for such a committee to have among its members the largest possible number of representatives of the borrowing as well as the lending states.

The question as to who will assume the comparatively simple part of the contemplated intermediary is besides of minor importance. So the French Government is ready to concur in any other suggestion which would make it possible to apply the principle laid down in 1921 by the International Conference on Relief Credits.

In making the foregoing suggestions known to Your Excellency I should be much obliged to you if you would kindly let me know as soon as you can the views of the Government of the United States on this question.

Be pleased to accept [etc.]

André de Labouiaye
  1. File translation revised.
  2. See “Relief in Central Europe,” Foreign Relations, 1920, vol. i, pp. 235 ff.