The German Chargé (Leitner) to the Secretary of State

V 7820

Mr. Secretary of State: I have the honor to bring to Your Excellency’s attention the following matter with the request for friendly intervention:

[Page 375]

Section 7 of the “Workmen’s Compensation Act of the State of Illinois”, according to the amendments of July 3 of the current year, contains the following passage under letter j:

“Wherever the dependents of a deceased employee are aliens not residing in the United States or Canada, the amount of compensation payable shall be limited to the beneficiaries described in paragraphs (a), (b) and (c) of this Section and shall be fifty percentum of the compensation provided in paragraphs (a), (b) and (c) of this section”.

This regulation, is, in the opinion of the German Government, in contradiction with Article II of the Treaty of Amity, Commerce and Consular Eights between the United States and Germany of August 22 [20], 1925,96 which reads as follows:

“If a national of one of the contracting parties sustains bodily injury or is killed in the territory of the other party, and the law of the country, state or commune in such cases grants to the relatives or heirs of the injured person or his dependents, protection in the form of a right of action or compensation in cash, then such relatives, heirs or dependents shall enjoy, under the same conditions, the same rights and privileges granted now or in the future to nationals of the country without regard to their foreign nationality or to the fact that they reside outside of the territory where the injury occurred”.

The inconsistency of the above cited provision of the “Workmen’s Compensation Act of the State of Illinois” with the provisions of the treaty appears especially clear also because of the reasons leading to the incorporation of Article II into the German-American Treaty of Commerce, Amity and Consular Rights. According to the expressly declared intention of the representatives of both parties when the treaty was concluded, this regulation was to guarantee that heirs, relatives and dependents of a person who has suffered an accident in one of the contracting states should occupy the same legal position as the heirs, relatives or dependents of the nationals of the country in question, without discrimination as to the place wherein they reside. Respectful reference is made to a memorandum written under date of December 1, 1923, concerning a conference between Messrs. Castle, Hayde [Hyde], McClure, Metzger and Barnes as representatives of the United States and Messrs. Wiedfeldt and von Lewinski as representatives of the German Reich.97

By direction of my Government I must report to Your Excellency the facts of this case with the request that efforts be made to have [Page 376] the Government of the State of Illinois change the provisions of the “Workmen’s Compensation Act of the State of Illinois” so that they will not contradict the provisions of the German-American Treaty of Amity, Commerce and Consular Eights of August 22, 1925.

Accept [etc.]

  1. The treaty was signed at Washington, December 8, 1923, ratified by the United States, October 6, 1925, and by Germany, August 20, 1925; see Foreign Relations, 1923, vol. ii, p. 29.
  2. Ibid., p. 24.