The Chargé in Germany (Mayer) to the Secretary of State
[Received May 21—10:35 a.m.]
154. Department’s 54, May 16, 2 p.m.76 Hauptmann von Pfeffer called yesterday evening. Mr. Peaslee was present. Von Pfeffer showed me a letter signed by Goering as follows:
“Berlin, w 9 Leipziger Platz 11 a, May 20, 1936. The Prussian Minister President. I have commissioned Herr von Pfeffer to treat the questions which have originated in the course of discussions with Counselor of Embassy Mr. Mayer. Goering.”
Von Pfeffer was apparently fully informed of my two conversations with Goering and asked me concerning our Government’s attitude [Page 267]regarding the Claims Commission matter. I replied as per the Department’s 52, May 14, 7 p.m. Von Pfeffer then reiterated in some detail the statement made to me by Goering on May 6 reported to you in my 135, May 6, 9 p.m. Von Pfeffer then said that Goering wished to make clear to us his position and that of the German Government in regard to the Claims Commission matter. They wanted to deal with us in a very big fashion with regard to matters discussed on May 6 and would not let trifles stand in the way. As far as they were concerned it would be easier to let the hearing continue and to have the Claims Commission cases settled if and when representatives were appointed to discuss the entire ensemble of difficulties in conformity with Goering’s proposals of May 6 since there was no reason from the German point of view why the hearing should be adjourned. However, Goering and the German Government were anxious to have the consideration of the larger problems concerned and their satisfactory arrangements take place in the best atmosphere possible. Therefore, if the American Government felt that it would be “useful” to this end to have the Claims Commission questions adjourned the German Government would be quite willing to do so.
I told Von Pfeffer that I was not authorized in any way to link up the settlement of the Claims Commission cases with the general ideas conveyed to me by Goering on May 6; that I had telegraphed these to my Government and had been told that they were under consideration; that all I could say at the moment was that my Government was favorable to a settlement of the Claims Commission cases, et cetera, et cetera. I said I would report our conversation to the Government.
It appeared to Flack77 and me that the German authorities are not interested in taking any action with regard to postponing the hearing of Claims Commission cases for their own sake but are quite prepared to do so as a friendly gesture to the United States, having in mind the larger problems concerned, such as the Johnson Act,78 the Harrison Act,79 various loans, et cetera, if the American Government so desires.
We were rather favorably impressed by Von Pfeffer. We felt that he had the authority and that Goering and Hitler, whose name was frequently mentioned, are greatly interested in coming to better relations with the United States for commercial as well as for psychological reasons. My guess is that the Foreign Office has tied up Goering in such manner that he cannot or will not act in the Claims Commission case unless he can show some quid pro quo. At the beginning of our conversation Von Pfeffer spoke of “conditioning” his Government’s adjournment of the Claims Commission cases hearing and [Page 268]taking them up independently of the other matters to be settled upon our going forward with the larger matters. He finally dropped this attitude and based the question entirely on whether we would say that we considered an adjournment “useful”. While all this confirms paragraph 4 of my telegram 144, of May 13,81 the solitude [sic] between the Claims Commission cases and the larger questions was considerably attenuated at the end of our conversation.
Pfeffer requested that this matter be handled only with Goering’s office in order to avoid internal governmental difficulties.