Memorandum by the Special Assistant to the Secretary of State and Chief of the Division of Western European Affairs (Dunn)

Conversation between the Acting Secretary90 and Dr. Markau; also present at the conversation were Mr. Hackworth91 and Mr. Dunn.

After greeting Dr. Markau the Acting Secretary stated that he had read a translation of the letter from Herr von Pfeffer to the Secretary92 which Dr. Markau had left at the Department on Saturday, November 7. Judge Moore stated that Herr von Pfeffer’s letter apparently brought up a number of points in the field of relations between the United States and Germany and apparently indicated that the German Government was desirous of discussing some of these points along lines of a certain plan and suggestions with a view to a solution of some of the matters now pending between the two countries. Judge Moore then asked Dr. Markau for information as to Pfeffer’s position in the German Government. Dr. Markau stated that Pfeffer was the assistant to Hess who is Deputy Leader of the National Socialist Party in Germany. He stated that there was a [Page 279] feeling on the part of the leaders of the Party in Germany, that is Hitler, General Goering and others high up in the Party, including Hess, that the new spirit of Germany to be successfully expressed must find means to clear away many of the obstacles in their relationships with other countries which were heritages from before the war or the war itself; that it had not been possible to change in such a short time the entire personnel of the Government in Germany and for that reason the Party leaders were attempting by direct and informal conversations with certain foreign countries to clear away some of the obstacles in German foreign relations in a manner that would probably take much more time if pursued through the regular channels. He said that this group of German Party leaders were particularly anxious to smooth away some of the existing difficulties in German-American relations and to establish the relations between the two countries on the basis of the new spirit of Germany which was quite different from what he called the old spirit of Germany.

The Acting Secretary said that this Government was willing and ready at all times to discuss any matters pending between the two Governments and suggested that if it were so desired by the German Government that notification be made to us through the German Embassy and that when so received we would be disposed to give careful and considerate attention to any matters the German Government might care to lay before us. He said that he hoped the German Government would realize that even with the best disposition in the world this Government was through its constitutional procedure subject to certain limitations in matters which came under the jurisdiction of Congress or were regulated by our existing laws, that in any event we would be very willing to go carefully into any matters or suggestions the German Government might wish to bring up. The Acting Secretary further suggested that it would be well, in the event of the German Government initiating a discussion of this kind, for them to forward a communication in writing through the established channels setting forth the points which they desired to discuss and any plan or suggestions they might have to make regarding them.

Dr. Markau said that he would be very happy to convey to the German Government this expression of the Acting Secretary and asked whether he might propose that the channel of communication to be selected be left to the judgment of the Reich’s Chancellor as it was just conceivable that he might have some particular form of negotiation which he would like to have adopted. He said he might wish to appoint someone especially empowered to discuss matters with our Embassy in Berlin, or that he might even want to appoint a delegation to come here to Washington for that purpose. The Acting Secretary stated that the form in which the discussions were carried [Page 280] on was immaterial but that we would, of course, expect to be notified as to the subjects to be included in the discussions and the channels through which they would be carried on, such notification either to be made to our Embassy in Berlin by the Foreign Office or through the German Embassy here to the Department.

Dr. Markau said that he understood thoroughly the Acting Secretary’s wishes in this regard and would so convey them to his Government.

The Acting Secretary then took up the matter of the Munich Agreement with regard to the sabotage claims and asked Dr. Markau whether he had anything to say with regard to that agreement particularly as to whether it had been accepted by the German Government as the Department had never had any official notification to that effect. Dr. Markau said that the Munich Agreement had been accepted by the German authorities on the condition that certain verbal changes be made in the form of the agreement. He said that there had been some internal difficulties with regard to the acceptance of this agreement but that these had been entirely smoothed out now provided the suggested changes in the document would be acceptable. The Acting Secretary thereupon informed Dr. Markau that if the agreement were acceptable to the German Government it would be then a matter to be laid before the Mixed Claims Commission which was a quasi-judicial body and had jurisdiction in the premises. Mr. Hackworth then suggested that if the agreement were acceptable to the German Government all they had to do was to notify their agent on the Claims Commission and give him instructions on the subject and have the matter thus brought before the Claims Commission for consideration and decision. Dr. Markau stated that his reason for being here at the moment was to work out the changes in the form of the document of agreement with Mr. Paulig, the German Agent on the Claims Commission, and Mr. Bonynge, the American Agent, which had to be done before the German Government could give its official approval to the arrangement. He said that his talks appeared to be progressing favorably and he had no doubt that within a short time he would be able to telegraph a formal form of the document which would be acceptable to the German Government and that Mr. Paulig would thereupon receive explicit instructions on the subject.

The Acting Secretary stated that he supposed that Dr. Markau realized that there were other interests concerned in the matters before the Claims Commission than the interests involved in this settlement and that the final consideration of all of these matters was, of course, within the province and responsibility of the Claims Commission.

The Acting Secretary in his separation of the discussion of the Pfeffer letter, which suggests consideration of the larger phases of relations [Page 281] between the United States and Germany, and his specific statement that the Munich settlement was a matter within the province and responsibility of the Claims Commission clearly indicated that the two matters were not in any way connected nor could they be interdependent. Dr. Markau appeared to understand that the two matters stood on entirely different grounds and expressed himself as entirely understanding and appreciating this Government’s position with regard to both of them.

J[ames] C. D[unn]
  1. R. Walton Moore, designated to act as Secretary of State during the absence of Mr. Hull.
  2. Green H. Hackworth, Legal Adviser.
  3. Not printed.