763.72113 Au 7/4
Informal Memorandum Left by the Hungarian Minister (Pelényi) With the Chief of the Division of Western European Affairs (Castle)
It has come to my knowledge that the Austrians are planning to ask for the release of the seized Austrian property, and are willing to place at the disposal of the American Government bonds in an amount corresponding to the approximate amount of American claims against Austria.
I have heard further that the Austrian Minister has made protest, in some form or other, against the fact that the bill H. R. 15009, arranging for release of German property, has not included the question of the release of Austrian property.
The question of the return of Austrian and of Hungarian property has so far been considered by the American Government separately from the question of the return of German property, for the reason that while the claims against Germany have practically all been established and the work of the Mixed Claims Commission almost terminated, not even the one year term—within which all claims shall be presented to the Tripartite Claims Commission—has come to a close in the case of Austria and Hungary, and therefore not even the approximate amount of said claims can be estimated.
This distinction made by the American Government appeared perfectly natural and obvious to the Hungarian Government, which as a consequence has never pressed the American Government to release prematurely the seized alien property of Hungarian ownership.
Should the American Government see fit to change its attitude and accept an Austrian proposal for the return of Austrian property before the Tripartite Claims Commission brings its task to a close, it is my personal conviction that the Hungarian Government would still maintain the original attitude of the American Government, which is also its own, to wit: that the question of the return of Hungarian property would have to remain in abeyance till such time as the American claims against Hungary would be definitely established. Only then, and not before, can the two interested Governments deal with the second question as to the form in which claims of American nationals found to be valid could be satisfied and in which Hungarian property held as a pledge for the satisfaction of such American claims could be released.
The Hungarian Government would have to continue in this attitude even in case the American Government should offer to release Hungarian property at an earlier date, under the same conditions under which it might prove willing to release Austrian property. The agreement [Page 144] between the United States and Austria and Hungary, ratified by Hungary on November 5, 1925,32e and establishing what is known as the Tripartite Claims Commission, provides only for the “determining of the amounts to be paid” to American nationals, and obviously leaves for a future date the question as to how claims passed upon by the Commissioner should be satisfied.
This agreement was ratified by the Hungarian Legislative Assembly, by a special act, and was embodied in the laws of Hungary. In connection therewith, the above mentioned viewpoint of the Hungarian Government went on record, to wit: that the question of the satisfaction of American claims could be dealt with only after they will have been found valid and their respective amounts known definitely.
As I have no official information regarding the Austrian proposals, nor do I know the American Government’s attitude in regard to same, I can naturally not speak by authority of my Government. However, I believe it is my duty to inform you at this moment, in the course of our conversation, that I do not see how my Government could change its attitude as set forth before.
It certainly does not intend to follow the Austrian lead to press for an early return of seized alien property, and sees no reason to protest in any form whatever against the non-inclusion of Hungarian property in connection with the release of German property.
Hungary has not asked and is not asking for any preferential treatment by the United States.—Thus Hungary did not ask for a moratorium but was among the three first countries to fund its indebtedness to the United States.—Similarly, Hungary is not asking for and does not believe in an earlier release of the seized property of its nationals, but expects to deal with this question when it will logically arise at the termination of the work of the Tripartite Claims Commission.
- Signed Nov. 26, 1924; Foreign Relations, 1924, vol. i, p. 152.↩