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the United States was introduced in this way. The Ambassador said that they desired us to have some relation to it to give the proposal an added sanction. The Secretary suggested that it would not be probable that the United States would assume any responsibility in the matter. The Ambassador said that he understood that. The Ambassador said that he had given to the Secretary the proposal in the exact terms in which he had received it from his Government; that he had not cabled his Government for any further instructions since his interview with the Secretary.
Memorandum by the Secretary of State of a Conversation with
the French Ambassador (Jusserand), December 26, 1922
The Ambassador then referred to the proposal of the German Ambassador as to a convention of the four Powers, Great Britain, France, Germany and Italy,—not to engage in war for thirty years. The Ambassador said he had placed it again before M. Poincaré, but the latter did not favor it. He did not trust the Germans. With the hatred which they were instilling in the youth by the instruction in their schools, they could easily provide for a plebiscite whenever they wanted it.
The Secretary then called attention to an apparent leak in the French Foreign Office. The Secretary said that he had been approached by a newspaperman this morning who told him of a report just received from Paris that M. Poincaré had turned down a proposal of the American Government for a four-power treaty abroad between Great Britain, France, Germany and Italy to guaranty the boundaries of Germany for thirty years. The Secretary said that there was enough in this inaccurate statement to show that there had been a leak. The reference to the American proposal, to M. Poincaré's action in regard to it, and to the term of thirty years indicated this. The Secretary said that he had told the newspaperman that the report was wholly inaccurate, and that there had been no suggestion of an agreement to guaranty the boundaries of Germany. The correspondent had then asked whether any suggestion had been made and the Secretary had merely said that, of course, this Government was always desirous that the Powers
* The first part of this memorandum is printed on p. 197.
concerned should do anything they could to maintain peace. He had said nothing further. The Secretary pointed out that it might shortly be necessary to state exactly what had occurred. The Secretary said that if so much as this was known in Paris it would not be long before a statement would come from Berlin. The Ambassador asked the Secretary not to make a statement at present with respect to what had occurred as to this proposal of Germany, and said he would immediately communicate with M. Poincaré.
The Ambassador asked with regard to Senator Borah's proposal for an economic conference and said he hardly saw what the American Government could do at this time; that it was no light matter to call a conference and it might be well to wait until the treaties of the former Conference had been ratified before a new Conference was started. The Secretary said that the proposal did not have the support of the Administration.
700.0011 R 34/3
Memorandum by the Secretary of State of a Conversation with the
German Ambassador (Wiedfeldt), December 28, 1922
The Ambassador called to inquire with respect to the published reports that Germany had made a proposal to guarantee her boundaries or to enter into a peace agreement for thirty years. The Secretary asked where the reports were published. The Ambassador said they apparently came from London; that he was quite sure nothing had been said on the subject in Berlin. The Secretary said that nothing had been said here; that no one knew of the matter except the President, the French Ambassador, Mr. Phillips 35 and Mr. Castle, 38 and that no reports had emanated from Washington that had come to the Secretary's attention.
The Secretary said that he had thought it unwise to submit to Great Britain, France and Italy the proposal of Germany for some engagement not to go to war for a generation without a plebiscite unless there was reason to believe that it would be considered sympathetically by France. The Secretary said that he thought it best to approach France in the first instance in an informal manner. The Ambassador expressed approval of this course.
The Secretary said that he had brought the matter before the French Ambassador and that he had suggested in presenting it that it was a very important proposal. The Secretary had said that if the nations resolved upon peace for a generation it could not but affect their disposition toward each other and that the psychology of peoples was an important matter to be considered in dealing with such a proposal. The Secretary had added that war was not popular; that it was no longer conducted by a professional class of soldiers whose interests only remotely affected the people at large; that every boy now knew that if he were able to walk he would be likely to be called to the front if there were a war; and that whatever Governments might be planning or think possible the Secretary was quite sure that the boys who were growing up would not desire in the light of what they had observed with respect to war to be called upon to engage in one.
* William Phillips, Under Secretary of State.
William R. Castle, Jr., Chief of the Division of Western European Affairs, Department of State.
The Secretary said that he had in his first interview with the French Ambassador referred to what the German Ambassador had presented and in another interview had read the text of the memorandum which the German Ambassador had left with the Secretary.
The Secretary said that the French Ambassador after communicating with his Government had informed the Secretary that they could not entertain the proposal; that under their constitutional system Parliament had the power to engage in war without a plebiscite, and that to enter into such an agreement would require a change in their constitution which they could not contemplate.
The Ambassador said there were reports that the French had also said they could not trust the Germans. The Secretary said that he did not care to go into any comment of that sort, but it was true that in addition to the constitutional question it had been suggested that the German system of instruction was such that their youth were brought up to hate the French and to consider revenge, and that the French felt that until this was changed there would be no hope in an agreement which involved a plebiscite as that would readily be obtained if Germany desired to make war. The Secretary said he did not care to refer to or emphasize comments of that sort, in view of the constitutional difficulty which the French presented.
The Secretary added that he did not feel at liberty without the consent of both Governments to make public the conversations which had been had or the nature of the proposed agreement. He felt, however, that he was bound to state to the German Ambassador the response which had been made to the German proposal. The Secretary said that it was, of course, for the German Government to decide what it would say, if anything, with respect to their proposal and the result. The Secretary felt, however, that at this time it was important that nothing should be done to create further difficulties.
700.0011 R 34/-: Circular telegram The Secretary of State to the Ambassador in France (Herrick)
WASHINGTON, January 2, 1923–1 p.m. The Department of State today made the following announcement to the Press:
The German Ambassador, on behalf of his Government, recently submitted to the Secretary of State a proposal to the effect that the Powers interested in the Rhine, to wit, France, Great Britain, Italy and Germany, should“ 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.”
It was deemed inadvisable to transmit the proposal to the Governments named unless it appeared that it would be favorably considered by the French Government. On making informal inquiry of the French Government, the Secretary of State was informed that that Government could not view the proposal with favor as such an arrangement could not be made under the provisions of the French Constitution. Repeat to London, Berlin, Rome, Lausanne, Brussels.
700.0011 R 34/4
Memorandum by the Secretary of State of a Conversation with the
German Ambassador (Wiedfeldt), January 6, 1923 The German Ambassador called to say that he had noticed in the newspapers that the French Ambassador had been instructed to present certain statements of M. Poincaré with regard to the proposed German agreement not to engage in war without a plebiscite; that the Ambassador stated that he had nothing to add but of course the Secretary knew that they had presented the matter in entire good faith and with the simple desire to meet France by an agreement which would allay French apprehensions.
The Secretary said he did not care to comment on the suggestions which had been made on either side; so far as he was concerned, the incident was closed.
DECISION BY THE UNITED STATES TO REDUCE ITS ARMY OF OCCU
PATION IN GERMANY TO A FORCE OF ONE THOUSAND MEN
WASHINGTON, March 23, 1922. MY DEAR MR. PRESIDENT: The identic note to the Allied Powers with respect to our right to be paid the cost of our Army of Occupa
tion in Germany was delivered yesterday 37 and was published in this morning's newspapers.
The Secretary of War informed me yesterday that he had sent a cable message to the Commanding General of the American Forces at Coblenz, stating that the President had decided to return to the United States all troops of his command with the exception of the Graves Registration Service, and that it was desired that all the troops should leave Europe before June 30, 1922, if practicable.
I had an interview with the Secretary of War yesterday afternoon, and, in the light of my recent interview with you upon this subject, I took the liberty of suggesting that the Secretary of War might notify General Allen 38 not to communicate this order officially to the Inter-Allied Rhineland Commission or otherwise to the Allied Powers, so that it would still remain a matter of our domestic arrangements which we could deal with as events would seem to make it advisable.
I have no objection to the policy of withdrawing the American troops from Germany as soon as it may be found consistent with our interests to do so, but I should regret a formal communication to the Allied Powers at this time that all our troops are to be withdrawn before the end of June. In view of the unsettled question as to the payment of our Army costs, it seems to me prudent that we should do nothing which might have the effect of postponing an early and satisfactory adjustment. If we were to take a final position that the troops were to be wholly withdrawn very shortly, it might possibly have the effect of prolonging and making more difficult the negotiations, whereas a little temporizing in this matter might give us an opportunity which we could turn to our advantage. I do not think that either the Allies or Germany desire us to withdraw our troops altogether. Such have been the indications in recent despatches. I note that the New York Herald correspondent recently reported that some French high officials were known to be personally in favor of the immediate payment of some fraction of the indebtedness to us, and in view of the difficulty of collection, I should like to take such a course as would intensify this desire to make some immediate payment.
The leaving of a small detachment of American troops, under provision for the payment of their current cost, would be a small matter compared with the advantage we might have in an adjustment for our large bill for accumulated costs.
I have no desire to press this matter against any clear conviction you may have reached, but I trust that there will be no irrevocable
See telegram no. 90, Mar. 20, to the Ambassador in France, p. 220. * Commander of the American Army of Occupation and unofficial observer on the Rhineland High Commission.