Memorandum of Conversation, by Mr. Joseph Flack of the Division of European Affairs

Dr. Resenberg66 came in by appointment this morning to continue discussion of the difficulties being encountered in the transfer of inheritance credits. This discussion had been inaugurated on August 12, 1939 with Herr Thomsen, the German Chargé d’Affaires, at which time Dr. Resenberg had already left for New York to take home leave in Germany. Dr. Resenberg explained again that as he had been largely instrumental in inaugurating the procedure of the aide-mémoire66a he was most anxious that it should function smoothly.

Dr. Resenberg stated categorically that the German Government is continuing to transfer inheritance credits within the purview of the aide-mémoire as heretofore, and that the European situation had not altered this practice. He added that the Reichsbank continues to make transfers through its correspondents in the United States, and as far as the German Government has been informed there have been no difficulties in this connection up to the present time.

Dr. Resenberg went on to detail the developments in the situation from January to August 1939 stating that during this period the equivalent of 3¼ million Reichsmarks had been transferred in dollars [Page 596] within the purview of the German aide-mémoire. He added that during the same period certain cases had been rejected, as follows:

42 cases involving 133,000 Reichsmarks had been rejected because the American citizenship of the applicant had been acquired subsequent to the inheritance.

72 cases involving 1 million Reichsmarks where the inheritance was received prior to August 4, 1931 when German foreign exchange control was introduced.

18 cases involving 31,000 Reichsmarks where the transfer application had been denied for the transfer of rent and interest involving indirect heirs.

In this connection Dr. Resenberg stated that rents and interest were being transferred and would be transferred when such transfer concerned the original heir. In summarizing this situation he said that three quarters of the value of transfer applications had been approved and that the doubtful cases comprised only one quarter of the value involved. He explained that the value setup of these transfers appears as follows:

January-August 1939
Transfers 3,250,000 Reichsmarks
Rejections 1,164,000 Reichsmarks
Total 4,414,000 Reichsmarks

In discussing the question of transfer in favor of an American citizen who has been a resident of Germany and subsequently returns to the United States for permanent residence, Dr. Resenberg stated that if residence in Germany had brought about the status of a “Devisen Inlander” then transfer can only be made in the event that the beneficiary is able to establish by affidavit the hardship of his case. He said that it was his understanding that if the beneficiary were living in Germany at the time of the inheritance this placed him in the category of a “Devisen Inlander”. Dr. Resenberg stated that during his leave he had discussed the transfer question with Dr. Albrecht of the German Foreign Office who has charge of such matters there, and that furthermore since his return the German Embassy in Washington had been informed by the Foreign Office that our Embassy at Berlin had not taken up the transfer question for discussion with the Foreign Office. He went on to say that Dr. Albrecht was very much interested in the transfer matter, and that he would not only be glad to discuss any questions which might arise with a member of the Embassy and to examine any complaints which might be presented, but also to be as helpful as possible. Dr. Resenberg suggested that the Embassy submit periodically to Dr. Albrecht a list of the cases which it felt should properly have been transferred within the purview of the aide-mémoire. He suggested that in the [Page 597] first instance complaints with regard to cases be taken up with the Devisenstelle at Berlin by a consular officer, and that if these were not dealt with satisfactorily they be taken up later in the Foreign Office with Dr. Albrecht. Dr. Resenberg again stressed the fact that both he and the Foreign Office were anxious to have the transfer procedure work as smoothly as possible.

I mentioned to Dr. Resenberg that I had seen in two instances in correspondence which had passed through the State Department references to the racial origin of beneficiaries in communications emanating from the Devisenstelle. I told Dr. Resenberg that I understood that when the aide-mémoire of December 16, 1938 was presented by Herr Thomsen to Mr. Welles, Herr Thomsen informed Mr. Welles that questions of race were not to be raised in connection with such transfers. Dr. Resenberg said that he was glad that I had mentioned this point and that he had also noted a similar instance in correspondence which had passed through the German Embassy in Washington, and that he had immediately written to the Foreign Office about this aspect, and that he would again bring it to the attention of the German Foreign Office. He agreed with my interpretation that the question of racial origin was not to be raised in connection with transfers.

  1. First Secretary of the German Embassy.
  2. Dated December 16, 1938; see memorandum by the Acting Secretary of State, December 20, 1938, Foreign Relations, 1938, vol. ii, p. 479.