463.11 W 891/12

The Secretary of State to the Minister in Austria ( Washburn )

No. 610

Sir: As you are aware, the treaty to establish friendly relations between the United States and Austria, signed at Vienna, August 24, 1921,15 and the treaty between the United States and Hungary, signed [Page 143] at Budapest on August 29, 1921,16 contemplate the concluding of agreements for the satisfaction of claims of the United States and its nationals against the Austro-Hungarian Government or its successors. You reported in your telegram, No. 45 of December 14, 1923, 6 P.M.,17 that the Austrian Minister for Foreign Affairs had no objection to the early conclusion of an agreement providing for the settlement of claims. The Hungarian Government has indicated its willingness to negotiate such an agreement.

There is enclosed herewith draft of a proposed tripartite agreement17 in which it is proposed to make what the Government of the United States regards as suitable provisions for the determination of the amounts to be paid by Austria and Hungary in satisfaction of their obligations under the treaties concluded by the United States with Austria on August 24, 1921, and with Hungary on August 29, 1921. The draft agreement, as you will observe, is similar in purport to the agreement concluded August 10, 1922, between the United States and Germany.18 It differs from the agreement with Germany mainly in that it is to be signed by representatives of three governments instead of two, and that it provides that the obligations of Austria and Hungary shall be determined by one commissioner instead of two commissioners and an umpire, as provided by the agreement between the United States and Germany.

It is deemed desirable to have any agreement which provides means for determining the obligations of Austria and Hungary under the treaties establishing friendly relations between the United States and those countries, signed by representatives of both Austria and Hungary as well as the United States, for the reason that many claims of American citizens which have been filed and which are in prospect arose out of acts of the former Austro-Hungarian Government for which, as successors to the Austro-Hungarian Government and by applicable treaty provisions, Austria and Hungary assumed responsibility. Both Austria and Hungary are, therefore, interested in any agreement which provides means of determining their respective obligations under the treaties to the United States and its nationals.

The Government of the United States considers that the purposes of the agreement could be accomplished with greater expedition and with less expense if provision were made for a single commissioner instead of two commissioners and an umpire for which provision was made in the agreement with Germany. Such a commissioner would perform the judicial functions of an arbitrator in behalf of the several litigants.

[Page 144]

At the time the agreement between the United States and Germany was signed, the German Chancellor addressed to the American Ambassador at Berlin, a note requesting that the President of the United States designate a suitable American to act as umpire.19 The two governments selected the Honorable William E. Day, formerly an Associate Justice of the United States, as umpire and upon his retirement, the Honorable Edwin B. Parker was selected in the same manner to serve as umpire. The Government of the United States understands that the manner in which Judge Parker has performed the duties of umpire is a source of satisfaction to the Government of Germany no less than to the Government of the United States. It has occurred to me, therefore, that possibly the Government of Austria and the Government of Hungary might agree to the selection of Judge Parker as sole commissioner or arbitrator to determine the obligations of Austria and of Hungary to the United States and its nationals under the treaties establishing friendly relations and under the proposed agreement.

You will please communicate with the Foreign Office in the sense of the foregoing, expressing the hope that the plan proposed by the Government of the United States for the determination of the obligations of the Governments of Austria and of Hungary under the treaties establishing friendly relations will commend itself to the Austrian Government. It is desired that you endeavor to obtain a reply from the Austrian Government as promptly as possible, and that you advise the Department by telegraph of developments. It is desired to have the agreement concluded at an early date in order that the appropriation to carry out the provisions of the agreement may be obtained before the adjournment of Congress. It is the view of the Department that the agreement should be signed in Washington where the representatives of the three Governments can be conveniently assembled.

Similar instructions have been sent to the Legation at Budapest.20

I am [etc.]

For the Secretary of State:
William Phillips
  1. Foreign Relations, 1921, vol. i, p. 274.
  2. Ibid., vol. ii, p. 255.
  3. Not printed.
  4. Not printed.
  5. Foreign Relations, 1922, vol. ii, p. 262.
  6. See telegram no. 159, Aug. 7, 1922, from the Ambassador in Germany, Foreign Relations, 1922, vol. ii, p. 259.
  7. Department’s no. 833, Feb. 1, 1924; not printed.