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Mr. VALE. Yes, sir.
Mr. Dewalt. Then, these ladies have only a life estate, with the remainder to the children?
Mr. VALE. In two instances that is the case, with the remainder to the children, and in default of children, to the brothers and sisters.
Mr. DEWALT. How then would the provision of this act affect these trust estates; that is, this remainder over?
Mr. Vale. The Attorney General suggested it was a ruling, as I understand it, by the Alien Property Custodian's office, namely, that they felt they were entitled only to the income and in no instance to the principal or corpus of the estate. So that, never at any time could come into the hands of the Alien Property Custodian the principal or corpus of the trust estate.
Mr. DEWALT. Nothing could come into the hands
Mr. VALE (interposing). Of the Alien Property Custodian other than the principal or the corpus of the trust estate. He has in each instance been making a demand for the income alone. that has been the fact in these particular estates, that at no time has the corpus ever been demanded. So no complication can arise from the general provisions of the bill in regard to that point.
Mr. DEWALT. Then would the children and the grandchildren have the same protection in regard to the estate you represent, Mr. Attorney General ?
Mr. SCHAFFER. Yes, sir.
Mr. SCHAFFER. Here in the United States. With the exception of the son they have never been over. The grandchildren have never been over at all.
STATEMENT OF MR. ROBERT CRAIN, ATTORNEY AT LAW, MUNSEY
BUILDING, WASHINGTON, D. C.
Mr. Crain. Mr. Chairman, I happen to represent a very simple case in connection with this matter. My client is a woman born in America of American parents. Fifteen years prior to the war she married a German subject. During those 15 years their time has been divided between America and Germany until the outbreak of the war, since which time she has been abroad.
In reading over the bills it seems to me that her case would be covered by the Winslow bill.
This woman owned personal property which was invested in American corporations, and the property was sold under the Alien Property Custodian act. Of course, it all narrows itself down to the simple proposition as to the attitude of the American Congress toward American citizens who were married to German subjects at the time of the war and who own property in this country.
Mr. MONTAGUE. Were they American citizens at the time of the war?
Mr. Crain. This woman, I suppose, would have her status fixed by the status of her husband, naturally. Mr. MONTAGUE. If he was an alien, she was an alien?
Mr. Crain. They divided their time, staying months and years in America and then sometimes going back to Germany. I am not sufficiently advised to answer the question directly. But regardless of that fact, and without attempting to suggest to the committee the legislation it may adopt on this important question, speaking for myself as an American citizen, I would feel that it was in the way of punishment to an American woman who married a German subject 15 years prior to the war to have her property taken away from her when she has been perfectly loyal to America and has been guilty of no crime or no disloyal act.
I take it for granted that when this Congress comes to frame an act it will not do so for any special case. It will not frame an act for to-day or for to-morrow, but with a broad vision, looking with the
eye of justice on all these cases and looking to the future both of America and other countries, will deal with it in a broad and patriotic way. This war soon will be at an end, technically, and then friendships will be restored between the nations of the world. When that friendship has been restored, technically, I hope that an American girl who 15 years before the war married a citizen of a foreign country will not be made to feel that she has been done an injustice by the country of her birth and of the birth of her parents and grandparents by the taking away of her property because of conditions over which she had no control.
STATEMENT OF MR. EDWARD A. THURSTON, FALL RIVER, MASS.
Mr. THURSTON. Mr. Chairman and gentlemen of the committee, I represent Margaret de Stuers Oberndorff, who was the daughter of the Dutch ambassador to Paris. She is a married woman, 42 years of age, and with her three children is now living with her father's people in Holland. Her history is as follows:
Her father, Alphonse Lambert de Stuers, was a citizen of Holland. In 1870, when a young man, he was a member of the Dutch legation in Washington, U. S. A. While there he met Margaret Laura Carey, of New Mork City. They became engaged and were married at her father's house in New York City in 1875.
Shortly after the marriage he was transferred to London, where he held the position of first secretary of the Dutch legation. From there they went to Paris. They had three children, and Margaret de Stuers was born at Versailles, France, in 1878. (The other two children were boys; one died several years ago, and the other is now living in Holland.)
De Stuers was then made Dutch minister to Spain, and he lived in Madrid until 1886. In 1886 he was made Dutch minister to Paris, and he held that position uninterrupedly until his death in 1919, less than a year ago. Occasionally he used to revisit America, as he had many friends here with whom he kept in constant communication. At the outbreak of the war, in 1914, he was at his post in Paris and remained there, with German airplanes dropping bombs around him, during the entire war. At the time of his death he left practically no property except his house in Holland.
His daughter, Margaret de Stuers, on January 2, 1904, when the relations between foreign countries were friendly and amicable,
was married in Paris to a citizen of Germany, Alfred von Oberndorff. At the time of her marriage she was a subject of Holland, although with strong American affiliations, as she herself by birth was half Dutch and half American, and she had been brought here by her mother and knew and liked her American relatives. They had three children, Marie Theresa, now aged 15 years; Carl Alfons, now aged 13 years; Elizabeth, now aged 2 years.
At the outbreak of the war she was unable to leave Germany. As soon as possible after the armistice she got out with her three children to Switzerland, thence to Paris, and thence to Holland, where she resides with her father's people. Her two girls are with her and her boy is in Holland at a Dutch school.
From her mother's side of the family she and her brother inherited some real estate on the corner of Sixth Avenue and Seventeenth Street in New York City, of which she owns eight-fifteenths and her brother seven-fifteenths. It is business property, consisting of stores and lofts, and is leased to different tenants. The value of her eightfifteenths is about $250,000. This property of hers and the rentals have been taken by the Alien Property Custodian. In 1867 her grandmother's brother, a resident of New York, put some property in trust, the trustee to pay the income to himself and wife, and upon
his death to distribute the property among his heirs. He and his wife died in 1917. Margaret de Stuers is one of his heirs, and her share is worth about $240,000. This also has been taken by the Alien Property Custodian. In addition there was a trust fund of $60,000 held here for her benefit by a relative; this also has been turned over to the Alien Property Custodian.
This lady was the daughter of the ambassador, marrying Alfred Oberndorff in 1904. They were married in Paris, and they were married when relations between the various countries were peaceful. In this whole transaction there was no thought or idea that anything might happen such as happened when the war broke out. Her marriage with Mr. Oberndorff was purely a love match.
Mr. Sims. Mr. Oberndorff was a citizen of Germany and has so remained ?
Mr. THURSTON. Yes, sir; he is now a German citizen.
Mr. THURSTON. No, sir; she is living in Holland. She left him and went to Holland after the armistice was signed.
Mr. BARKLEY. He is still in Germany?
Mr. Sims. In the case which the attorney general of Pennsylvania just presented to the committee the lady involved never was a citizen of Germany, but only had that status by reason of being the wife of a German citizen. The same thing is true in this case?
Mr. THURSTON. Yes, sir. I merely wish to say
Mr. JONES (interposing). In your case the husband was a resident
Mr. THURSTON (interposing). Of Germany.
Mr. Jones. In the case presented by the attorney general of Pennsylvania, the husband, while a German citizen, was living in America and employed in America.
Mr. THURSTON. So I understand.
Mr. THURSTON. Yes, sir. This bill provides for neutrals. This bill is also broad enough to cover the American girls who have married Germans. It is a very broad bill in its provisions.
Mr. BARKLEY. How do you construe your client to be a neutral?
Mr. THURSTON. I do not. The property which she inherited was originally American property. She came of neutral parents.
Mr. BARKLEY. I thought you made the statement a while ago
Mr. THURSTON (interposing). Pardon me. She came of neutral parents. Her father was a neutral and her mother was an American before she was married. They were married in the United States.
Mr. BARKLEY. Your client, as a matter of fact, was never an American citizen?
Mr. THURSTON. No; she was not. She was the daughter of a neutral and an American citizen.
Mr. BARKLEY. Her father happened to be a neutral, and that placed her citizenship in that country?
Mr. THURSTON. Her citizenship followed that of her husband, in Germany, according to the Dutch law.
This bill takes in the cases of a great many of the American girls who have married foreigners; and I want to say, Mr. Chairman and gentlemen of the committee, at the very outset, that this is not a special bill, this bill would take in, so far as the neutral aspect of it is concerned, as I understand it, the neutral cases. I understand there are not very many of those cases.
I do not know whether it will be the disposition of the committee to consider individual cases or the general principle, but I wish to call your attention to the fact that this was not a war of individuals. This was a war between countries. The property was seized by the Alien Property Custodian under the act at once. There was not time to consider or differentiate. The purpose of the act was to prevent the use of this money against us. It was to be kept out of the fight, and was to be held during the war.
Mr. COOPER. I am not just quite clear in regard to this case. Your client married a subject of Holland?
Mr. THURSTON. No; she married a subject of Germany. My client, a resident of Holland, married a German and became thereby an alien enemy, following her husband's citizenship. She came of parents, one of whom was an American, and the other a neutral.
The principle involved in this whole matter is whether or not this country intends to take the property of private persons to pay the debts which really are debts of the German Government.
If the committee will permit me, I have prepared a very brief statement which it seems to me might well go into the record in connection with this matter.
The CHAIRMAN. We will be very glad to have it inserted into the record. Can you tell us the substance of it?
Mr. THURSTON. The substance of the argument which I should like to present to the committee is based on the theory that private
property, and particularly fixed property, like real estate which has been taken by the Alien Property Custodian should not be held to pay the debts which Germany is responsible for during the war.
I wish to go one step further and say that the Alien Property Custodian himself, in his report, has differentiated between the two classes of property, friendly property and unfriendly property, and by unfriendly property he means those great aggregations of capital financed by the German Government, which he claimed to be nests of spies, and the steamship companies, and enterprises of that sort, which have been liquidated. The friendly property was that property consisting of real estate and individual personal property which was not in any way used for the purposes of the war. before the war the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad, the Pennsylvania Railroad, and, I think, other roads had fiscal agents in London and Berlin selling their securities, and the people in those countries bought those securities and invested their money in this country in those securities because we wanted them to.
They were seized and held by the Alien Property Custodian so that the income could not be used for war purposes during the war. It was not property in the sense that munition factories or concerns making materials to be used in the war were property; factories and concerns which had been established here with hostile design.
It seems to me, in looking at the whole proposition as to the kind of bill the committee will desire to report, at the very outset it might be well to consider these two classes of property, the friendly and the unfriendly, and in the friendly property, I assume, comes the property represented by the gentlemen who have preceded me here this morning. It consists of the property of women who lived in this country largely and who married these people abroad at a time when we were encouraging those marriages, and in many cases-in fact in all cases represented here—was left in this country, and probably most of it will remain in this country. It seems to me that it was not in the contemplation of the act that property of this kind should be taken to pay these claims.
I understand the Alien Property Custodian has something like $600,000,000 or $700,000,000 worth of property in his possession.
I may say, speaking in behalf of my own client, that I assume the property which the Alien Property Custodian is keeping, the property of women such as my client, persons who were neutrals before they married Germans, would be a very small amount, and to restore it would make no difference whatever, and I assume that repaying the property of these women would not in any way leave the department in such shape that claims could not be taken care of. He has a lot of property which came from sources which I assume this Government will eventually use for the payment of debts.
The CHAIRMAN. You notice the two bills differ in the point of time as to marriage.
Mr. THURSTON. Yes.
Mr. THURSTON. The time mentioned in the Winslow bill, July 28, 1914, marked the outbreak of the World War. I think that a woman who married a resident of Germany before this date and at a time when all countries were on friendly terms with Germany could not be fairly held to have anticipated what came afterwards.