551.5F1/149: Telegram

The Minister in Switzerland (Wilson) to the Acting Secretary of State

[Paraphrase]

103. Department’s 88, August 7, 5 p.m. Although he is ignorant of the attitude Germany may adopt toward the proposal, Dufour will suggest to his Government the idea of initiating in the next Assembly a resolution on a silver conference.

As matters stand now, there is nothing more that I can do in Geneva. Therefore, our Ambassador in Germany might profitably suggest that that Government issue a public statement after the arrival of Dufour on August 18. To negotiate further in Geneva, I would have to deal with nationals of the Governments in the Secretariat. I am ignorant of the prestige any of those individuals have at home. Dufour is an example. Consequently, I am of the opinion that the matter could be more expeditiously handled in Berlin. You could facilitate Sackett’s task with an explanation of the type of conference you preferred, namely, one of experts, financial leaders, or official representatives. My belief is that the greatest advantage can, be derived by acting immediately. Another gain would be scored if Sackett succeeded in having the resolution so read that the Secretariat called the conference as soon as convenient with its own work. A conference convened without the benefit of preliminary surveys cannot proceed directly to the core of its problem. It must take the time to study and then act. Consequently you may want it understood that experts and financiers be in attendance.

Owing to the assistance which we have recently sought to give Germany, one may reasonably assume that the Government would desire to reciprocate in this matter. There may be, however, some hesitancy. As a debtor state, the German authorities may fear that to offer this resolution, some one may bring against them the charge of conniving to pay off gold obligations in silver stabilized but reduced in value.

If the German Government should refuse to go along, the way is open in another direction. From the Legation’s 99 of July 28, 5 p.m., you know that only member states can begin an action in the League. Of course, the more powerful the member the greater respect its proposal will receive. The United States should, therefore, work through a government which is neutral toward the silver question and which [Page 624]would be inclined to lend assistance. Italy would be my choice in these circumstances. If the Germans should decline to act for us, you may want to approach the Permanent Italian Delegate to the Council (Grandi).

In view of the foregoing it is my opinion that future negotiations either with the German Government or any other should be conducted in the capital of the country. For the moment I can do nothing in Geneva. This situation will prevail until September 1 or later when I can again confer with the proper officials there. As to the position of Great Britain referred to in the Department’s 84, July 25, 2 p.m., I have learned, from an unvouched for source, that the British Government is prepared to attend a conference summoned either by the United States or the League of Nations but not one which the Chinese would call.

If you think it worthy of consideration, my suggestion is that I be kept informed of events in order that I may be of assistance after the 1st of September. If you should charge Sackett with the problem kindly advise me so that he may have my correspondence.

Wilson