Memorandum by the Secretary of State

The German Ambassador7 brought me the annexed memorandum of what he wanted to say to me.8 He said it was not in any sense a note from his own Government, but was merely for the purpose of putting in clear and definite form the views he was trying to express verbally.

After I had read it I asked whether the final suggestion of the extension of the Pact of Paris9 was not rather in the nature of a departure from the rest of the argument. He said he realized that perhaps it was, but he put it in to make clear that in the situation which confronted Germany in regard to disarmament she was ready to take any step that would avoid war and promote international justice, and that he had heard reports that some such modification of the Pact of Paris was under contemplation. He wanted to make it clear that Germany was ready to join in such a movement.

I told him that no such movement was now under consideration, but that he was welcome to know everything that had been said in the past, and I reviewed to him the history of all suggestions which I have been concerned in in reference to the socalled implementation of the Pact of Paris.10 In doing that I made it clear that the only suggestion we had ever put forward (and that was only tentative for purpose of discussion) was the suggestion that inasmuch as the Pact of Paris depended for its sanction solely upon international public opinion there might well be added to it provisions for clarifying public opinion in an obscure case by an impartial investigation and report without any decision. I reminded him that I had made such a suggestion in the summer of 1929, during the first stages of the Manchurian trouble between Russia and China. I told him that that had been conveyed to the Five Powers with whom I was consulting at that time, including Germany, and he recollected it. I said it had also been conveyed at that time to M. Briand on account of his interest [Page 93] in the Pact. I told him that we had never pushed it, but had suggested it as something to incubate and possibly to be brought forward at some favorable time in the future.

I then reminded him of how later the suggestion of an implementation of the Kellogg Pact by means of a consultative provision had come up during the period of the London Naval Conference as a possible suggestion for solving the deadlock which was thought to exist in that Conference. I told him that this had never been put forward by any of the authorized representatives at the Conference, but so far as I knew solely in the press.

And I then reminded him of the action which we had taken in our press conferences to point out that under the peculiar circumstances existing in the naval situation at that time no consultative pact could be considered as a part of the naval treaty while there was any danger that it might be misconstrued by France as something more than a consultative pact and as really involving a promise of military assistance. I made it very clear that while consultation might be used as a means of clarifying public opinion behind the Pact of Paris, yet if this were done it must be in such form as to make it clear that the consultation did not involve by implication any promise of military assistance or even pressure of any other kind than public opinion. I said that I felt clear that no consultative clause involving such an implication could be supported by this country.

He told me he understood this perfectly and agreed with me.

He then reverted to the disarmament problem set out in his memorandum and said that I must appreciate the situation in which Germany would be placed if disarmament was delayed. I told him I did; I told him I hoped that Germany’s influence would be used and used successfully in persuading the other Powers to disarm; that it would be a world disaster if the results should be the other way and the attitude of the other countries lead to Germany’s arming. He said he agreed with me.

He said that was why he brought the note, because America had such influence on public opinion over there and he hoped we would not confine ourselves to the naval side of the question although he appreciated our attitude in regard to land disarmament. I said that our attitude as to land disarmament was that we were really not interested in that as a matter of security to ourselves though we were greatly interested in it for the broader reasons of world security. Therefore in such a situation where local conditions were so acute and where we were really disinterested, our attitude had been guided by a desire not to be thought to have any ulterior motive and by a desire to make our disinterestedness perfectly clear. He said he understood that but he hoped our people would realize how great our influence was over there and would use it on the side of disarmament.

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I told him I hoped that we could, but I had learned one thing in foreign relations and that was we had to take one step at a time and even that step was necessarily slow. He laughed and said he appreciated that perfectly.

H. L. S[timson]
  1. Friedrich W. von Prittwitz und Gaffron.
  2. Infra.
  3. Treaty for the renunciation of war as an instrument of national policy, signed at Paris, August 27, 1928, Foreign Relations, 1928, vol. i, p. 153.
  4. For previous correspondence regarding suggestions for further implementing the Pact of Paris, see ibid., 1929, vol. i, pp. 59 ff.