The German Ambassador (Maltzan) to the Secretary of State


Mr. Secretary of State: I have the honor to request Your Excellency to be so kind as to give me information in the following matter:

[Page 772]

According to article 244 of the Treaty of Versailles and to annex VII thereto, Germany renounced her rights, in favor of the Allied and Associated Powers, to the cables Yap–Shanghai, Yap–Guam and Yap–Menado which formerly belonged to the German-Dutch Telegraph Company.

By this transfer Dutch interests were affected, since Germany, according to the Treaty concluded between the German and Dutch Governments at the time of the founding of the German-Dutch Telegraph Company 1901,20 was not justified in disposing of property of the Telegraph Company without the consent of the Dutch Government. The Dutch Government objected to this violation of its interests with the result that the Allied and Associated Powers at the time of the negotiations, which took place in Washington in 1921, concerning the distribution of the former German cables, agreed that the cable Yap–Menado should be allotted to the Dutch Government as final and complete compensation for all claims of the Dutch Government and of Dutch subjects as regards their interests in the German Dutch Telegraph Company.

The Washington Agreement has not yet been ratified by the powers concerned. Consequently the transfer of the cable Yap–Menado to the Dutch Government has hitherto not been effected. The German Government, however, is very much interested in having the cable transferred as soon as possible for the following reasons:

For some time efforts have been made to arrange a compromise between the German Dutch Telegraph Company and its Dutch creditors who have formed a corporation for the protection of their rights. Such a compromise was already accomplished on December 12/23, 1924 and was confirmed by the German and the Dutch Governments. However, since the transfer of the cable did not take place during the time provided for by the agreement,—to wit, up to March 31, 1925,—the agreement according to its provisions relative thereto, became null and void.

Negotiations are going on at present with a view of renewing the agreement. The economic situation of the German-Dutch Telegraph Company makes it necessary to reach a final settlement as soon as possible and thus to avoid a liquidation of the company. A consolidation of the company can, however, only be attained if the transfer of the cable Yap–Menado takes place in the near future. (The fact, that the cable has not been transferred yet, is the only reason that makes it doubtful whether the agreement, which had been the result of negotiations covering a number of years, can now be renewed.)

[Page 773]

The desire of the German Government to have the cable Yap-Mena-do transferred to the Dutch Government as soon as possible has already been made evident on another occasion.

After it had become known through a statement of an American and an English member of the Restitution Division of the Reparations Commission that the question whether the value of the cable Yap–Menado could be credited to Germany’s Reparation account might prevent a prompt execution of the Washington Agreement concerning this cable, the German “Kriegslasten-Kommission” in Paris sent a note to the Reparation Commission on December 18, 1924 in which the German Government renounced its claim of credit of the value of the cable concerned.

By this renunciation the German Government on its part did all it could to make an immediate transfer of the cable to the Dutch Government possible, and therefore considers itself justified in requesting the expeditious transfer of the cable to the Dutch Government.

I have the honor to ask Your Excellency to be kind enough to provide me with a communication as to the present status of this matter. I should be particularly obliged for information as to which impediments prevent the ratification of the Washington Treaty and the execution of the agreement regarding the cable Yap–Menado at the present time, and when the removal of these impediments may be expected.

Accept [etc.]

  1. Translation furnished by the German Embassy.
  2. British and Foreign State Papers, vol. xciv, p. 595.