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Exchange of Letters Between the President and Chancellor Adenauer Concerning Vested German Assets in the United States.

August 10, 1954

[Released August 10, 1954. Dated August 7, 1954]

Dear Mr. Chancellor:

I was very much interested in your views on the question of the disposition of vested German assets in the United States, contained in your letter of July 17, 1954; and I appreciate the spirit in which your comments were offered.

You refer particularly in your letter to the hardships imposed on a large number of persons, many now advanced in years and without other means of support, whose small holdings in this country., in the form of pensions, life insurance policies, interests in estates, and bank deposits, have been vested. You state that early action to provide relief in such cases would be a major contribution to the strengthening of the ties of friendship between our two countries.

Because of the great dislocation in the German economy which took place as a result of the war, the Allied Governments decided to look to German assets in their territories as a principal source for the payment of their claims against Germany. The recovery of the German economy, which has progressed so rapidly and so well under your administration, was thus not hampered by a large reparation burden. In considering the problem of the vested assets, it is necessary therefore to. take into account legitimate claims on the part of American citizens arising out of the war for which some provision should be made, if the original approach is reversed.

I am aware of the measures taken by the German Federal Government under your high-minded leadership to contribute to the relief of victims of Nazi persecution, and to re-establish normal economic and commercial relations with the countries of the free world. I also share your sympathy with individuals in straitened circumstances in Germany for whom the operation of the vesting program in this country created particular hardships. I am hopeful that it may be possible to take some remedial action in such cases, and at the same time provide some measure of compensation to those American nationals who incurred losses arising out of the war, with resultant hardship in many cases.

As you know, the solution of this complex of problems lies with the Congress. Several bills dealing with the subject are now pending there, and members of my Cabinet and other Government officials have appeared and expressed their views. None of the measures thus far proposed have the approval of my Administration, but you may be assured that this problem is receiving earnest consideration and it is my hope that a fair, equitable and satisfactory solution can be arrived at.



Note: The German Chancellor's letter of July 17, released with the President's reply, follows:

Mr. President:

The Federal Government follows with special interest efforts of the U.S. Congress to find a solution to the question of seized German assets in the United States. Despite the favorable development of relations between our two countries, this problem has remained unresolved. A solution to it is a special wish of my government. Thousands of Germans who through no fault of their own find themselves in an unfortunate economic situation, old people and pensioners, beneficiaries of insurance policies and inheritances, hope that now, nine years after the end of hostilities, their property will be released. Among them are numerous persons who have lost their means of livelihood and homes as a consequence of the war. For all of them an early release would alleviate their hardships. Many Germans would be able to build their lives anew with these means. Moreover, seizure of these assets has affected precisely those German firms and persons, who through personal and business connections with the United States, have for many years formed the traditional bridge of friendship between our two countries. For them as well, the unresolved problem is an element of uncertainty.

In the opinion of the Federal Government and of the entire German public, the Federal Republic has expressed its will to contribute to reconstruction on the basis of common principles of the Western world through recognition of German foreign obligations in the London debt agreement, through ratification of the Bonn and Paris agreements, and through conclusion of the Israeli agreement. An early solution to this problem lies specially close to the hearts of myself and my government. It would not only have a far-reaching favorable psychological effect in that it would give the German people a feeling of security and increase its moral strength, it would also make a considerable contribution to furthering the friendship between our two peoples, so promisingly begun.

As head of the government of the Federal Republic, may I voice a request to you, Mr. President, that a contribution will also be made from your side that the hopes, so recently given life, will not be disappointed. Accept, Mr. President, the expression of my highest consideration.


Dwight D. Eisenhower, Exchange of Letters Between the President and Chancellor Adenauer Concerning Vested German Assets in the United States. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/232453

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