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Excerpts of the President's News Conference

February 13, 1925

I don't know of anything I can say more about the return of alien property than what I said the other day. I spoke then more about the practical difficulties. Of course, when it comes to a question as to what our rights are, I suppose they are absolutely in our own hands. We have a right to return it if we wish. But the effect it might have on other nations that are interested in securing money from Germany to meet their claims, I think would be what I have indicated. I think it is entirely a domestic subject, limited of course only by the treaty that we made with Germany. Insofar as that may limit it, it is a little outside of a domestic question, but no other nation other than Germany and the United States has any legal right about it, as I understand it. I think that is set out perhaps in the last paragraph of the Paris agreement, which specifically says that it doesn't change any rights of the different signatories.

PRESS: Mr. President, can I revert to the German property settlement? You told us Tuesday that you hadn't read the text of Senator Borah's bill. Have you read it since?

PRESIDENT: NO, I haven't read it. I have talked with Senator Borah and he and I seem to be in entire accord in relation to it. He would like to see the property returned, but he doesn't feel that it is a matter that can be taken up now, and I have the same view about it. We would like to keep intact that great principle of not having private property seized during a war. We undertook to assert that principle, of course, in the treaty that was made with Germany, by the provision that the German Government was to repay the German nationals for their property that we had seized. Now conditions change. There may be some way that can be figured out by which we can return the property. Perhaps Mr. Borah can figure out some method that will seem acceptable. Perhaps I can. We haven't been able to do so at the present time, and I don't think any suitable provisions (I notice suitable provisions here is in quotation marks, referring I suppose to language that is in the Knox-Porter resolution and which is incorporated in the German treaty), I don't think any suitable provisions have yet been arrived at under which we can return the German property.

Source: "The Talkative President: The Off-the-Record Press Conferences of Calvin Coolidge". eds. Howard H. Quint & Robert H. Ferrell. The University Massachusetts Press. 1964.

Calvin Coolidge, Excerpts of the President's News Conference Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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