Memorandum of Conversation, by the Assistant Chief of the Division of North and West Coast Affairs (Wells)

Participants: Señor Adhemar Montagne, First Secretary of Peruvian Embassy
Señor Fernando Schwalb, Second Secretary of Peruvian Embassy
Mr. Milton K. Well—NWC

Messrs. Montagne and Schwalb called to follow up the visit made yesterday by the Peruvian Minister-Counselor48 for information concerning the reparations meeting now being held at Paris. The Peruvian Foreign Office had requested the Embassy to ascertain the Department’s attitude in respect to the participation (or nonparticipation) in this meeting of the other American republics.

I explained the situation to them essentially as set forth in the Department’s circular telegrams of August 28, 9AM and October 29, 9AM.49 With reference to the reparations meeting, the other American republics were not invited because it was felt that the disposition of German assets in this hemisphere should be considered as an inter-American problem under the terms of Resolutions XVIII and XIX of the Mexico City Conference;50 and that one reason for suggesting this procedure was the fact that the German assets in the Western Hemisphere would in all probability be in excess of the claims, the contrary of which would be true in Europe.

It was further explained that this Government proposed to bring up the matter at the meeting of the Inter-American Economic and Social Council51 which was inaugurated today. I outlined in some detail the five points covered in the Department’s circular of October 29 as forming the basis of our line of thought: (1) each American republic should satisfy its legitimate war claims against Germany out of German assets within its jurisdiction; (2) German assets in excess of these claims should be distributed among the war devastated United Nations; (3) this policy should operate to defend the other American republics from claims of German and of German nationals arising out of action taken in this hemisphere against Axis interests, and that former German owners must look to the German Government for damages arising out of such actions; (4) that the terms “German assets” and “legitimate war claims” would have to be defined clearly; (5) and that looted properties should be restored to former owners.

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Attention was called to the recent Allied Control Council order vesting German external assets abroad.52 It was pointed out that while this order has a definite bearing on the situation, it did not change the basic ideas outlined in the five points, and that the Department is presently consulting with the Allied Control Council regarding a solution of the question of the disposition of Axis assets in the Western Hemisphere.

  1. Guillermo Fernandez Davila.
  2. Neither printed.
  3. Pan American Union, Final Act of the Inter-American Conference on Problems of War and Peace, pp. 55–59.
  4. For documentation on this Council, see pp. 1 ff.
  5. For documentation on United States participation in the Allied Control Council, see index entries in vol. iii.