462.00R296/4740: Telegram

The Acting Secretary of State to the Chargé in Great Britain ( Atherton )

239. For Gibson:74 The discussion with the Belgian Government arising out of its efforts to surround its adherence to the Hoover proposal with special conditions and reservations is familiar to you. In the London discussions this subject will be brought up for settlement.

The attitude of the Department in this regard is outlined as follows for your information. That the acceptance by Belgium of the Hoover proposal will create a budget problem is evident; but we do not see any vital reason or conclusive special circumstances establishing a claim on the part of Belgium for a special consideration beyond this. The Department feels, therefore, that the spirit and meaning of the Hoover proposal should be maintained in arriving at a solution of the Belgian problem. On the other hand, the Department realizes that as a result of your early discussions on this subject with the authorities in Belgium and through our instructions to you there has been created a certain presumption that sympathetic consideration will be given the Belgian difficulties. Consequently the Department recognizes that you may have to show a certain flexibility of attitude.

With regard to the conditional payments, there is no justification for special treatment; Germany will have to retain the whole amount. In considering the mark claims settlement, our figures indicate that Belgium would receive 184,000,000 Belgian francs in 1931–32. Of this amount 26,000,000 francs would be paid into the Belgian National Bank; but the balance presumably would be retained by the Government. In addition, it may be necessary to take into account some small amount due from Belgium to Luxemburg. Possibly a solution of the problem could be found through having the Experts Committee decide that the mark payments should be suspended to accord with the Hoover proposal following which the German Government might offer to pay this in spite of the decision of the Committee, thus gaining a little prestige. Should it be possible through the discussions of the Committee to reach an arrangement whereby Germany, with the [Page 187] agreement of the other nations concerned, should pay part or all of the mark claim due Belgium, the Department would feel inclined to agree. Obviously the danger to be avoided in negotiating a settlement along these lines is that it should become the basis for similar claims for special consideration on the part of the other minor nations. Because such a danger exists the Department feels that the attitude to be taken must be left primarily to your judgment. Should it be possible to avoid this danger, the Department would see no objection to having the mark claim, which is not in the same category as reparations, put in a class of its own and treated as something outside the scope of the Hoover plan.

  1. Ambassador Gibson had gone to London as American observer at the Conference of Experts.