763.72113 Mills Bill/4
The Under Secretary of the Treasury (Winston) to the Assistant Secretary of State (Olds)
Dear Mr. Olds: I have your letter of March 16th21 with reference to the conversation of Mr. Prochnik, the Austrian Minister, with your Department. In preparing comprehensive legislation for settling the questions existing between Germany, its nationals, the United States and the American mixed claimants, I found it impracticable to cover in the same bill the return of the Austrian and Hungarian property. [Page 128] It is the desire of the Treasury that one bill settle all war questions between the two countries and their nationals. We could do this in the case of Germany because the Mixed Claims Commission for the determination of American claims has been set up, the claims have been filed, the limitation for filing of claims has passed, most of the claims have been adjudicated, and it is possible to obtain an accurate estimate of the total amount of awards and thus fix the probable immediate liabilities of the Treasury with respect to advancing the cash to pay the awards. In the Austrian and Hungarian cases a Commission, I understand, has been set up quite recently and claims are being filed, but the period of limitation for the filing of claims has not run, and it is impossible to estimate, therefore, the total amount of claims which will be presented. It follows necessarily that no satisfactory estimate can be made of the probable amount of awards. Germany has made an arrangement for providing cash to be applied towards the payment of awards. No such arrangement has been set up by, the Austrian or Hungarian Governments. The Treasury felt that it could not very well ask Congress to commit the Treasury to liabilities the amount of which could not now be estimated and the means of meeting which were not provided.
It seems to me that the considerations I have mentioned above clearly differentiate the German from the Austrian and Hungarian situations. If Congress, however, should adopt the policy along the lines indicated by our proposed bill in the case of Germany, it seems to me that this same policy logically ought to be extended to the Austrian and Hungarian situations when at some later period their liabilities for mixed claims and the means of payment therefor have been definitely established. I feel sure that the Treasury would be glad to make a statement along this line when the bill affecting the German questions is presented.
Very truly yours,
- Not printed.↩