411.60 d Finnish Vessels/107

Memorandum by the Assistant Secretary of State (Rogers) of a Conversation With the Finnish Minister (Aström), May 20, 1932

The Finnish Minister came in to plead for his request to refer the Finnish ship claims to the Court of Claims. I said that we had had it under consideration, that I had talked to Mr. Hackworth briefly about it but that there was no conclusion yet. I said nothing could be done at this term of Congress anyway as the session was not going to handle any minor legislation. I said that we had a feeling that the claims were stale and had only been vitalized by the activities of lawyers, and that we had no particular interest in supporting American lawyers by this process.

The Minister said the claims had been in his hands since 1922 under constant discussion and that since 1923 Poore’s firm had been gathering evidence; that the delay between 1922 and 1929 was not the claimants’ delay but the delay in gathering material; that while Donovan had been recently employed, Poore’s firm had been in the matter all along. He said there was great interest in Finland on the topic as the owners of the ships were scattered in various small communities and that pressure on him was very great. He said incidentally that they had been very unsuccessful in litigation in Great Britain over Finnish steamers requisitioned by the British during the war. The British had raised the question that the ships were Russian and that there was therefore an offset through the general repudiation of international obligations by the Russian Government. He took the position that Finland had always been autonomous with separate ship legislation and separate laws on all sort of topics. (I suggest the English cases might be worth following up).

I promised the Minister we would give the matter consideration at an early date but told him he was not losing time anyway.

J[ames] G[rafton] R[ogers]