763.72119 Military Clauses/96: Telegram

The Ambassador in Germany (Sackett) to the Secretary of State

191. Supplementing my 190, September 21, 8 p.m., reporting that von Bülow interpreted the President’s alleged statement in line with the comments ascribed to American papers as an appeal to Germany to rejoin the Conference and that he characterized it as an approval of the German equality thesis, I think his remarks in connection therewith may be of such interest to the Department to warrant telegraphic repetition.

He said that Germany would be deeply impressed with such a call from the President but in spite of her appreciation Germany would not be able to respond favorably to his appeal. He stated that the French and English now take the position that Germany, whatever results the Conference achieves in securing limitations on the armaments of other nations, must remain bound by the military limitations put upon her by the Treaty of Versailles.

In Conference discussions of reductions in any categories prohibited to her by the treaty such as tanks Germany’s position would have to be that they must be eliminated from the armaments of all nations. Germany could have no place in discussions of reductions for other nations in categories which she herself was denied.

Unless therefore the Conference now meeting would agree first to discuss and settle Germany’s rights to equality—not as to quantity but as to principle—which would mean that Germany would be permitted to have at least limited amounts in all categories allowed other nations by the final results of the Conference Germany would be forced to maintain her refusal to attend, even in view of her desire to generously answer the President’s call. Bülow reiterated for the second time that Germany had no desire to destroy or in any way [Page 442]injure the Conference and stressed that the German thesis warrants the conclusion of most military experts, that no such rearmament was contemplated by or financially possible for Germany as would strengthen her war potentiality in any material degree. The principle of being permitted limited amounts of the various types of arms to be allowed as a result of the Conference to other nations in reduced quantities was a sine qua non to the self-respect of any country and one which no Cabinet could fail to maintain. He added that Germany disappointed at its tenor would not reply to the British note in order to avoid the chance of giving offense by the tone of the answer.

The Department will please bear in mind that I am transmitting Bülow’s own exposition of his case. I offered no interruption or discussion nor (for the reasons set forth in my 190, September 21, 8 p.m.) even intimated the unfavorable reaction we would have to Germany’s persistence in her present attitude (as set forth in the Department’s 311, September 22 [2], noon; and 325, September 16, 1 p.m. to the Paris Embassy repeated here).