The Chargé in Belgium (Mayer) to the Secretary of State
[Received 5 p.m.]
56. Department’s 38, June 25, 1 p.m. Instruction complied with. Minister of Foreign Affairs,60 accompanied by the Secretary General of the Foreign Office, took occasion to refer at some length to Belgium’s situation after expressing his country’s desire to contribute to the success of the President’s proposal.
Monsieur Hymans stated substantially that his Government could not agree to the proposal purely and simply without reservation in view of the following three factors:
- Belgium’s special position, dating from the war, and all its consequences. A moral reason.
- Public opinion as typified by Monsieur Vandervelde’s61 recent speech in the Chamber of Representatives (see my 54, June 26, 6 p.m. [June 25, 5 p.m.]),62 Public opinion was unanimous with respect to Belgium’s special position.
- The country’s difficult financial position.
The Minister for Foreign Affairs concluded by saying that he hoped to find a formula which, while approving the President’s proposal in principle, would be able to take those three special factors into consideration. In view of the great importance of the occasion and Belgium’s desire to contribute as much as possible to the success [Page 177] of the President’s proposal, he hoped that the American Government would realize the necessity for Belgium’s taking time to come to a decision.
Not believing that the Department would wish me to enter into any particular discussion or argument with the Minister for Foreign Affairs, I limited myself to some general observations with reference to our own problems with regard to public opinion, which Monsieur Hymans well knew and with respect to which President Hoover was taking such a courageous position. Secondly, the substantial financial loss that we ourselves were willing to incur in the midst of a great economic depression in the United States; and lastly, the promise of the future for Belgium as well as for the rest of the world of the wholehearted success of the President’s proposal and ensuing economic rehabilitation of Europe, which greatly outweighed in my opinion any temporary financial loss. I also referred to that important phase of the President’s proposal, namely, the supreme desirability of creating a new European atmosphere in which the residue of war psychology could be liquidated to permit a new era in world feeling and development.
[Paraphrase.] No formal meeting on the subject has yet been held by the Cabinet, and a Belgian reply is not likely for a day or two unless action is accelerated. The Belgians are in a difficult position and are undoubtedly delaying to discover the reaction to the French reply.63 [End paraphrase.]