800.8810/1142: Telegram

The Consul General at Berlin (Messersmith) to the Secretary of State

Decree Ministry Commerce effective August 7 makes necessary that any person buying steamship passage from foreign steamship line in Germany cost of which exceeds 200 marks must first secure from exchange control authorities special permit. This does not affect German steamship lines which can continue sell passage freely costing any amount. No matter how liberally decree enforced and necessary permit on individual applications granted travelling public inevitably diverted to German lines which can freely sell passage costing any amount avoiding delays and annoying formalities. Am not able to state whether treaty violation specifically exists but effect decree directly discriminatory in practice and undoubtedly not in accord spirit articles 1, 8 and 9 our treaty. United States Lines and Baltimore Mail operating nine vessels [Page 475] passenger traffic to German ports have protested on the ground their interests seriously affected and existence passenger offices Berlin, Hamburg and Munich threatened.

While right to maintain passenger offices not prohibited by decree effect is to make them merely information offices and for booking accommodations on return passages bought in the United States. I am of the opinion our Government should protest vigorously and immediately through the Embassy for if treaty violation not involved discriminatory action resulting from decree contrary fundamental international practice respecting equal treatment vessels. Our trade interests suffering so much from various discriminatory action from unofficial and party sources in Germany that I believe this very favorably [favorable?] instance our Government to make strong representations. Such discriminatory treatment American Lines would eventually result retaliatory measures our part affecting German Lines and German steamship offices in the United States. Believe such representations on our part with full publicity at home will have very useful effect in Germany not only in accomplishing rescinding this decree but also with respect to discrimination generally. Have conferred with Ambassador who is in accord.13

  1. In a letter of August 21, 1933, the Chief of the Division of Western European Affairs wrote to the Consul General at Berlin: “As …reports reached us indicating that the shipping lines were having an opportunity to present their case with every prospect of success the decision was reached that a protest, not having been made, should be reserved for the event that direct negotiations failed to produce a satisfactory solution.”