Memorandum by the Under Secretary of State (Phillips)

Mr. F. D. G. Osborne, British Chargé d’Affaires, read to me the substance of a telegraphic instruction which he had just received from his Government, in which it was stated that the German Air Minister had requested the British Air Attaché in Berlin to arrange for the purchase in England of 25 airplanes “for police purposes.” The British Government has telegraphed to its representatives in Paris, Rome, Brussels and Prague to ascertain whether the four governments concerned will agree with the British Government to request their respective manufacturers of airplanes and airplane engines not to fulfill any orders emanating from the German Government.

Mr. Osborne referred to the treaty or agreement of 192626 which denied Germany the right to use planes for police purposes. The United States was not a party to this agreement. However, Mr. Osborne pointed out that the German intention, if carried out, would have a very unfortunate effect on the Disarmament Conference; his Government was well aware that, if the British manufacturers refused to sell to Germany that the German Government would place its orders elsewhere and that it was for this purpose that the British Government was endeavoring to solicit favorable action on the part of the four European countries—France, Italy, Belgium and Czechoslovakia.

The Chargé d’Affaires then asked me whether the United States Government would be able to respond favorably if such a request from London was received by us; he wished that it should be clearly understood that his call this afternoon was entirely informal and did not carry with it any official request on the part of his Government; he realized the possible difficulties and did not know whether the Department of State had any authority in the matter; he ventured the opinion, however, that possibly a request of American airplane manufacturers to abstain from delivery to Germany would be all that was needed.

I said that the subject which he had presented was a highly interesting one and that I would give it immediate and careful consideration.

William Phillips
  1. Agreement on Aerial Navigation between Germany, Belgium, British Empire, France, Italy, and Japan, dated Paris, May 22, 1926, League of Nations Treaty Series, vol. lviii, p. 331.