500.A15A4/1491: Telegram

The American Delegate (Wilson) to the Secretary of State

393. From Davis. Simon, who had to go to London because of governmental problems, returned last evening. He, Sackett and I, dined together with a view of a discussion preliminary to the first meeting this afternoon of the committee on arrangements for the Economic Conference.70 Before getting on to that subject he remarked that there never was a more critical world situation and that it had never been more important for the United States and Great Britain to work together. He then launched into a discussion of the Franco-German controversy which he said during the past week had reached a crisis and must be settled at once. It could not be settled except through the good offices of England and the United States. Otherwise all possibility of success for both the Disarmament and Economic Conferences would be destroyed. He explained that since it is vital to get Germany back into the Disarmament Conference and since this can be done only by arranging a meeting some place other than Geneva he had conceived the idea of calling a meeting in London by invoking the recently concluded Consultative Pact because neither Germany nor France could refuse to attend. He said, however, that he recognized that such a meeting without us would be useless and he wondered what would be the best procedure to facilitate our attending such a meeting.

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We told him that the calling of a meeting under the Consultative Pact as distinguished from the pending disarmament negotiations would most probably raise difficulties for us and that we would probably not wish to enter into the abstract questions of Germany’s juridical status as regards equality. On the other hand if the conversations were merely a logical continuation of those instituted by you last April and carried on in July and were definitely related to the general disarmament work you would most probably recognize the importance of our taking part in conversations which were for the purpose of ironing out differences which were blocking the success of the Disarmament Conference. Since the conversations which he proposed would presumably not be taken up for some days we thought this would give time to consult with you. I understand from Simon that you will be hearing about these consultations from the British Embassy in Washington and in connection with the decision which you may however consider, you should have the following considerations in mind.

Our best hope of getting results from the Disarmament Conference and of securing of Germany’s continued participation in the work is through informal conversations such as you instituted when you were here. Our participation in these conversations would undoubtedly be helpful and I realize that to permit such participation the conversations must be on a basis which avoids giving the impression that we are getting into Treaty of Versailles questions or juridical questions as to Germany’s right to equality. We have, however, a logical interest in these conversations from two points of view. First, Germany last July formally expressed satisfaction at the presentation of the Hoover plan and that is the only concrete measure of disarmament which might be adopted by France with any hope of furnishing a basis for Germany’s continued participation in the work. A solution of the present German armament demands is essential to eventual realization of the President’s plan. Second, if Germany carried out her threat to re-arm this would apply to the navy as well as to the army and might lead to a break down of the present system of naval limitation. Both of these points as well as the President’s statement of our interest in progressive reduction of armaments and Germany’s continued participation in the work of the Conference afford logical ground for our taking part in some form of discussion of the German demands.

In connection with the foregoing have considered Wilson’s 383, September 23, 11 p.m., and 389, September 26, 9 p.m., and have consulted Sackett and Wilson who concur in above views. [Davis.]

  1. Norman H. Davis and Frederic Mosley Sackett, American Ambassador in Germany, were in Geneva as American members of the organization committee for the Monetary and Economic Conference scheduled to meet in London during 1933; for correspondence, see pp. 808 ff. Mr. Davis also continued to act as a delegate to the General Disarmament Conference.