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sider reparations, as stated in my speech at New Haven and cabled you on December 29, would naturally be useless unless it was acceptable to France, and that it was for French Government, who were acquainted fully with my suggestion, to act or not to act, as they desired. This Government, while wishing to assist in every possible way, does not desire to become a dictator or arbitrator in reparations problem. In placing suggestion before French Government, the Government of the United States feels that it has done all that it now can do to contribute to solution of the situation, the real control of which rests with other nations.

Repeat to London, Rome, Berlin, Brussels, and to Berne for Lausanne.

HUGHES

GERMAN PROPOSAL FOR A PLEDGE OF PEACE AMONG THE POWERS

INTERESTED IN THE RHINE

700.0011 R 34/1

Memorandum by the Secretary of State of a Conversation with the

German Ambassador (Wiedfeldt), December 15, 1922

[Extract]

The Ambassador said that some months ago he had spoken to the Secretary of the essential points in establishing sound conditions in Europe. The first was the assurance of peace. He had spoken at that time in a general way of the necessity of finding some basis by which peace could be guaranteed. The Ambassador again referred to the apprehensions of France and stated that there was no danger of Germany attempting to make war upon France but that it was desirable that the French fear should be removed if possible.

The Ambassador said that his Government was now prepared to make a more definite suggestion. That suggestion was to the effect that the Powers especially concerned with the Rhine, such as Great Britain, France, Germany and Italy, should enter into an agreement that neither one of them would engage in a war with any of the others for a generation without putting the matter to a popular vote. The Secretary asked if this was a definite proposal and not conditioned upon anything else. The Ambassador said that it was. The Secretary asked what was meant by a “generation”. The Ambassador said a period of, say, thirty years. The Secretary asked whether it referred to a war in which all the Powers mentioned were engaged or a war between any two or more of them. The Ambassador said that he referred to the latter. It would not, however, refer to a war with some other Power as for example between France and Turkey.

The Secretary asked whether it was the desire of the German Government that the Secretary should in his discretion ascertain informally or otherwise whether such a suggestion was acceptable. The Ambassador said that that was the desire; that they desired in some way to put the matter in the hands of the United States Gov. ernment; that they would welcome any arrangement by which the Government of the United States would in a sense be a trustee” to see that the arrangement was carried out or to take any action in the matter that the United States thought to be practicable.

The Secretary said he was glad to receive the suggestion and he would give it consideration. It was gratifying to note the desire of the German Government to remove the apprehension of war.

462.00 R 29/22594

Memorandum by the Secretary of State of a Conversation with the

French Ambassador (Jusserand), December 18, 1922

(Extract]

The Secretary said that since the last interview with the French Ambassador he had had an interview with the German Ambassador. The latter had said that his Government was willing to enter into an agreement with Great Britain, France and Italy to the effect that none of these Powers should engage in war against any of the others for a generation unless the war was authorized by a popular vote. The Secretary had asked the German Ambassador whether this was a proposal of an independent unconditional agreement. The German Ambassador had said that it was. The Secretary had asked what was meant by a “ generation.” The German Ambassador had said “say about thirty years.” The German Ambassador had informed the Secretary that his Government would like to have the Secretary bring it to the attention of the other Powers mentioned. The Secretary said that he had not said anything to the representatives of the other Powers as he desired to find out in the first instance whether this would appeal to the French Government; it was a suggestion made by the German Government to relieve in some practicable way the apprehension of France.

The French Ambassador said it was very important. He made note of the suggestion and said he would convey the information to his Government. The Ambassador said that nothing permanent could be hoped for until a different sort of instruction was given in the German schools; that not [now?] this instruction inculcated the desire for revenge upon France. The Secretary said that such an agreement as that proposed would have a powerful influence on the sentiment of the people and would encourage the people in the maintenance of peace and the desire for peace. The Ambassador agreed that the suggestion should have serious consideration.

462.00 R 29/226146

Memorandum by the Secretary of State of a Conversation with the

German Ambassador (Wiedfeldt), December 19, 1922

(Extract]

The Secretary informed the German Ambassador that he had spoken informally to the French Ambassador with respect to the proposal of the German Government that Great Britain, France, Germany and Italy should enter into an agreement not to engage in war for thirty years without a popular vote. The Secretary said he did not think it wise to take the matter up formally with the other Governments unless it would be received and treated seriously by the French Government. The Ambassador acquiesced in this point of view.

The Secretary said that he would be glad to have the Ambassador put his proposal in a memorandum or note so that the Secretary would have a written text in order to avoid any possible misunderstanding. The Ambassador said he would do so.

700.0011 R 34/

The German Embassy to the Department of State 82

If the Government of the United States with the view of saving Europe propose that the powers interested in the Rhine, to wit: France, Great Britain, Italy and Germany solemnly agree among themselves and promise the Government of the United States, that they will not resort to war against each other for a period of one generation without being authorized to do so by a plebiscite of their own people, Germany would not hesitate to enter such an obligation.

"The file copy bears the following notation : “ Delivered by the German Ambassador, Dec. 21, 1922. C. E. H."

700.0011 R 34/2

Memorandum by the Secretary of State of a Conversation with the

French Ambassador (Jusserand), December 21, 1922

(Extract "]

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2. German proposal as to agreement not to make war without a plebiscite. The Ambassador said that he had communicated all the Secretary had said on this point to M. Poincaré, and that M. Poincaré had replied to the effect that France could not enter into such an agreement without a change in her Constitution; that under her Constitution Parliament had the determination of making war and it required an amendment to alter this. The Ambassador, with the telegram in his hand, apparently paraphrased its content in saying further that the Germans could not be relied upon, and that if they wanted to make war they could easily get a vote to that effect; that it would be necessary for them to change their entire attitude towards the French; that they were now resentful and hated the French and were looking for revenge.

The Secretary said that he had received from the German Ambassador the text of the German suggestion. The Secretary then read the following proposal:

That France, Great Britain, Italy and Germany solemnly agree among themselves and promise the Government of the United States, that they will not resort to war against each other for a period of one generation without being authorized to do so by a plebiscite of their own people, Germany would not hesitate to enter such an obligation.”

The Ambassador caught at the words " and promise the Government of the United States." He asked whether that meant that the Government of the United States would guarantee such an agreement. The Secretary said that it would not; that he did not think any such guarantee could be looked for. The Ambassador said that it would be very important if the United States were brought into the matter; that that might possibly affect the disposition of the French, even to amend their Constitution. The Secretary said that he did not understand that the proposal contemplated that the United States should bind itself in the matter; that apparently it was the intention of the German Government to give an added solemnity and weight to their promise by making it run to the United States; that while the United States in such case would not become bound on its part to any action, it would be entitled to complain if the promise were broken and that Germany knowing that the United States could complain of the breach of such a solemn agreement running to itself

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* The first part of this memorandum is printed on p. 195.

would be the more indisposed to break it. The Ambassador said he appreciated this and asked whether that would require the assent of the Senate. The Secretary said that that depended whether or not there was a treaty which bound the United States to obligations. The Secretary said that if there was merely a promise running to the United States without any treaty engagement it might be regarded as in the nature of a convention which would not require the assent of the Senate, as the United States would not be bound to any action under it. But the Executive would merely receive the promise of another Government which could take the form of a protocol.

The Ambassador said that M. Poincaré did not trust the Germans and did not think that such a promise could be relied upon.

The Secretary said that in such matters the resolve of the Gov. ernment was important; that with nations as well as with individuals, there was great power in autosuggestion; that if a nation determined to set itself towards peace and not war this could not but be regarded as helpful and if they made a solemn vow not to engage in war without their people endorsing such action, and other nations did the same thing, this would be an important step toward the maintenance of peace.

The Secretary pointed out that peoples were not as fond of war as they had been; that now that soldiers were not of a professional class but that a whole people might be drawn in and that every young man who could walk was apt to be called to arms, and with the improvements in bombing planes, long-range guns and poison gases, war was not an attractive thing to young men, and that there would be an increased disposition to oppose it. It seemed to the Secretary that such considerations were not light, and the Ambassador said he agreed and would say more to M. Poincaré upon that point.

700.0011 R 34/5

Memorandum by the Secretary of State of a Conversation with the German Ambassador (Wiedfeldt), December 22, 1922

[Extract] In response to the request made by the Secretary at his last interview, the German Ambassador delivered to the Secretary a written memorandum of the German proposal not to engage in war for a generation without a plebiscite. This memorandum was as follows:

[Here follows text of undated memorandum from the German Embassy printed on page 205.]

The Secretary called attention to the statement that the proposal in the memorandum that the Governments mentioned should “promise the Government of the United States." He asked why

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