500.A15A4/1209: Telegram

The Acting Chairman of the American Delegation (Gibson) to the Secretary of State

285. My 274, June 24, 6 p.m. The French have given to the British and ourselves the proposed text of an amendment to article 52 of the draft convention foreseeing investigation on the spot in the case of certain complaints.

Our translation follows:

“Insert between the second and third paragraphs a new paragraph conceived as follows: ‘For the purpose of drawing up its report, the Commission shall decide by a two-thirds majority, excluding the parties to the difference, whether the inquiry into the complaint shall be carried on solely through the examination of official documents communicated to it or whether the nature of the alleged facts necessitates local investigation.

In the latter case the high contracting parties agree to furnish the investigators designated to act within their territory all facilities for the accomplishment of their mission.’”

[Page 248]

In handing this memorandum to Wilson, Massigli explained that the insertion of some such clause was to them of capital importance inasmuch as in private conversations with the Germans, the Germans had insisted on the elimination from the Treaty of Versailles clauses of the right of inspection in Germany under the terms of those clauses. In order to maintain this right in regard to Germany, which the French consider essential, they must insist on the insertion of some such clause in the treaty. Massigli added that would certainly seem as if any honest state would welcome such investigation in case of complaint.

I learn that the Italian delegation has instructions in this connection to the effect that they may admit such a right of inspection in the event that they get a treaty of real reduction. They are unwilling to admit such a right for any treaty of mediocre achievement. Their former thesis had been that they could not admit right of local inspection under any conditions.

You may feel that the Italian position is logical and that to facilitate real achievement we might be able to admit the possibility on which the French are insistent. We realize that our past attitude like the Italian has been to oppose any such provision and that it could only be justified if necessary to final agreement upon substantial reductions. We are studying possible modification to make this provision more acceptable to us and would appreciate your views.