Page images

American and the other class that which is not American. It seems to me that a bill could be framed at the present time that could cover the interests of Americans. Representative Butler's bill and Mr. Winslow's bill cover just one section of the first class; that is, the married woman's status. Certainly there is every reason why these women whose interests are affected by those bills should be restored to American citizenship, but there are a great many other women who are still American, never were married to alien enemies, and who are not helped by the bill in its present form.

Let me give you just one typical case. We represent a family of four women.

One is an elderly woman, the widow of an American, another is her daughter, who married an Austrian just before the war, and which Austrian has deserted her, and she doesn't know where he is. The other two are her daughters and the granddaughters of the elder woman. One of them married a German who was killed, and she has been repatriated; but as a result of the war her nerves have been so shattered that she is now in a sanitarium. The other one, her sister, an unmarried woman, American pure and simple, is in a very serious physical condition.

These women are all at Wiesbaden. Their property is in the hands of the Alien Property Custodian and it has been almost impossible for us to make arrangements for them. I wish to say that the Alien Property Custodian officials in that matter, to whom the facts were presented, all certified, first by our friendly Spanish representatives and then by the American consuls, have treated us with the utmost consideration; but their hands are tied.

Now, this is all American property. These women are in distress. They can not be moved. The older woman must stay there and take care of the younger women; and yet we can not do anything for them.

I have another instance of a man who

Mr. Jones (interposing). Let me get those people. There is a grandmother?

Mr. BUTLER. There is a grandmother and a daughter and two granddaughters. The grandmother is 75 years old and is just staying there to take care of the others.

Mr. Jones. She was an American?

Mr. BUTLER. They are all American born, every one of them. I have known the younger ones from childhood. They are to a certain extent a business family connection. As I say, the Alien Property Custodian has treated us in that matter with the greatest courtesy; but his hands are tied.

Now, we have another instance of a man-I think his estate was somewhere between $75,000 and $100,000—he is 80 years old and is unable to travel under present conditions in Germany. His letter was most pitiful. He can not leave where he is. He is in Germany somewhere. His nephew, a New York lawyer, who is one of our correspondents, is sending him $100 a month in some way or other. Of course, the old man is still subject to the alien-enemy act; at least, he is located in enemy territory. This nephew has no security for what he sends him. He has just advanced it in the hope that it will eventually be repaid. We submitted that case to one of the officials of the custodian office, who said it was a case of real distress and ought to be covered by some legislation. The man's record is perfectly good; he has an American passport; he can leave whenever his health will permit; but, meanwhile his property is tied up.

We raise no complaint about any of these matters. As I have already said, we have been treated most courteously. In these matters that have been held up we have shown that everything was in good faith, but the custodian's hands are tied. I am in hopes that this committee will see a way by which American money can be separated from the other money, and it seems to me that à bill can be provided which will alleviate the situation as to the cases out of the 45,000 to 50,000 total cases, involving American money, which I understand—although it is guesswork—are about 10,000 in number.

Mr. Jones. What do you mean by “American money”?

Mr. BUTLER. I mean to say money which was taken from Americans by reason of their location in Germany, or other causes other than their own alien enemy nationality. I do not suppose that Congress ever intended that Americans, merely because they were unfortunately detained in Germany, were to be permanently deprived of their property. Of course, Congress could never have intended that, because millions of that class of property have been given back to the parties who have come to this country. Only day before yesterday our office sent to an American who had been detained in Germany about $270,000, a warrant of the United States Government. That money had been taken because, owing to circumstances, he was caught when the war broke out in Germany and could not get back here until after the armistice. He kept his passport good; he came over here and only a few weeks ago we filed with the Alien Property Custodian a proper claim and the warrant was forthwith handed to us.

There are others, however, who have not been able to get back here. The poor ladies to whom I have referred, for instance. They would be glad enough to get away from Wiesbaden where they are and where they have been kept at enormous expense during the war by the voluntary advances in some cases of their friends, and which they will, of course, eventually repay when they are in a position to get back the property or have it released from the custodian's demand. There would be an absolute inequality if some of the Americans in Germany lost their property and others did not. We presume, therefore, that eventually all of this which I describe as “American money will come back to the parties. I don't know how many million dollars—Mr. Stellwagon could tell us—has already been repaid. I know that property worth several millions has gone through my office. It is going back as fast as they can give it back, but we are hampered by this necessity of getting the parties out of Germany. In the cases I refer to there has been no bad faith in remaining in Germany. It is the misfortune and not the desire of the parties, and it is hoped that some relief will be given them in this bill.

Now, there is another matter that I want to call your attention to.

The CHAIRMAN. Are these bills sufficient to cover cases that you have in mind?

Mr. BUTLER. No; I do not think that these bills are sufficient. Therefore, I shall take the liberty, if the committee is willing, of suggesting one or two amendments.


I said pos

The CHAIRMAN. You can do that in your hearing when you get the manuscript for correction.

Mr. BUTLER. I will submit to the committee before its next hearing some suggestions as to amendments and ask for their consideration.

Mr. DEWALT. Let me interrupt you just a moment. You stated a few moments ago that there were about 10,000 of these cases which were applicable to what you termed "American money.” Now, granting that a good many of these cases are such as you have described, namely, that the parties unwillingly remain in Germany, or that they went there and could not get back, what assurance would there be if we passed general legislation, such as you suggest, that any or a great portion of these 10,000 people would not come here and get their money and then go back to Germany or go back to Austria and stay there?

Mr. BUTLER. In regard to that (speaking to Mr. Boggs) I think you stated that there were 6,000 or 8,000 American cases, Mr. Boggs. We, of course, only represent a few of them.

Mr. Boggs. I think possibly you misunderstood me. sibly there were as many as 6,000 or 8,000 cases which in one way or another had American affiliations. I did not mean that many American citizens.

Mr. BUTLER. I did not mean to say that there were 10,000 Americans in Germany. In speaking of "American money" 'I mean, of course, to include these American women who will be relieved by the Butler bill and the Winslow bill. How many of those there are, I don't know.

Mr. RAYBURN. How many years were your clients in Germany before the war was declared ?

Mr. BUTLER. They had been in Germany off and on for four or five years

before the war broke out. Mr. RAYBURN. Had they taken up a residence there?

Mr. BUTLER. They had not. They kept their passports regularly viséed. All to-day have passports granted within the last six months after investigation by the State Department and by consular agents who were sent there, as they have been sent in other cases, to investigate the why and 'the wherefore, of their remaining in Germany, and everything in that respect has been kept in accordance with State Department rules.

Mr. DEWALT. While your specific case which you have mentioned may be a very meritorious one, nevertheless the gentleman who just interrupted you said there were 6,000 or 8,000 of these cases which had American affiliations in Germany. Now the thought in my mind which I tried to convey is this: If there be that number of cases, some of which may be meritorious, on a par with the case that you have mentioned specifically, and others not meritorious, if you pass general legislation in regard to this matter, what assurance is there that a large proportion of these 6,000 or 8,000 cases will not get their money and then go back to Germany and stay there, and then Germany, if we are at war with it for an indefinite time, gets the benefit of that money? That is the thought in my mind.

Mr. BUTLER. In reply to that thought I would state that I believe in the last month or so very large amounts of money have been paid to people who were in Germany who have.come back, and there is absolutely no guarantee that they can not take the next steamer, if they can get a passport, and go to Europe and go into Germany. Í don't see how you could possibly stop that.

Mr. DEWALT. That doesn't remedy the evil.

Mr. BUTLER. But at the same time I do not think there should be a classification in favor of those who by physical ability, as in the case that I referred to, as of the gentleman who came and got the money, as against those who can not get here. He received his money day before yesterday, and if he wants to, he can go to Germany if he can get there. I do not see that the United States has any more possibility of controlling the eventual return to Germany of any person who gets back this money than it has of keeping anyone else from going to Germany. I can not see that you can put an embargo on that class of people who have had money in the hands of the Alien Property Custodian from getting their money and then going to Germany. Because, as I have said in regard to the party who received his money, I have no idea that he is going to Germany, but at the same time if he does want to go to Germany, and can get there, he can do so, regardless of whether he has just recovered his property or not.

Congress can not, in my opinion, create the classification, which now exists under the statute, by which some people can obtain their money and return to Germany and other people are not to be allowed to have their money for fear they might either go back to Germany or stay in Germany. I should not think that would be equal legislation. But the question that comes up and that I would like to ask the committee to consiler is the equal treatment of Americans—a bill by which there will be accorded to those Americans whose property has been taken and is now he iu by the custodian—unquestionably properly; unquestionably as a proper war measure; unquestionably as a measure which was absolutely necessary for the winning of the war, but certainly not with the intention that any American, who, by reason of the misfortune of being detained in Germany, should pay to the expense of his or her fortune 100 per cent thereof for the purpose of helping win

Mr. Jones. Let me see if I am too narrow in my definition of your idea of American money. American money is money in America belonging to American citizens in Germany or in Austria ?

Mr. BUTLER. Yes, sir.
Mr. JONES. Belonging to American citizens there?
Mr. BUTLER. Yes, sir.
Mr. Jones. At the time of the war and now?

Mr. BUTLER. Yes, sir. Or who may, by reason of the Butler and Winslow bills, be reinstated in their American rights. Of course, I understand the bill under consideration covers that.

Mr. JONES (interposing). That refers to married women.

Mr. BUTLER. Yes. So, in talking of American money I am simply asking that the suggestions very properly covered by the Butler and Winslow bills be so broadened that those particular married women would not be the only ones who benefited by it. That is to say, the distinction should not be made between the two sisters whom I refer to, one of whom would be—in that case it would be mother and

the war.

daughter-one of whom would be repatriated by the Winslow bill and get back her property, and the other, not having been married, would not get it back. What I am asking is that the bill should not be so narrow that in the same family a married sister would get back her property and an unmarried sister would not, when both have been kept in Germany for the same length of time and period, and both being half owners in the same fund, and both being American born.

Mr. Jones. Why should there be any distinction in the Winslow bill or the Butler bill in regard to the case that you cite if both sisters were American citizens?

Mr. BUTLER. If both sisters were American citizens and both were unmarried neither of them would get any relief.

Mr. JONES. And both women are American citizens?

Mr. BUTLER. In our case the two women happen to be mother and daughter, one of them, the mother, is married to a German; the other two, her daughters, are unmarried, one being now a widow.

Mr. Jones. Then, the one that is married to a German is not an American citizen!

Mr. BUTLER. Under the Winslow bill she would be repatriated and would get her money.

Mr. Jones. Suppose she is not made a citizen under the Winslow bill?

Mr. BUTLER. Even if not actually made an American citizen, the disability would be removed in her case, while, under that bill, the disability would not be removed in the case of her daughters, who are unmarried American women.

Mr. JONES. She would not be an American woman. She American citizen, is she?

Mr. BUTLER. She was. They were all Ani 1 born. The daughters were children of her former marriage to an American, now deceased.

Mr. Jones. But she married a German and she is not an American citizen.

Mr. BUTLER. No; she is no longer an American citizen, but her daughters are both American citizens and have their passports.

Mr. Jones. The Winslow bill does not attempt to make an American citizen or to naturalize.

Mr. BUTLER. Instead of saying “restored to citizenship” I should have said " disability removed and ability given to get the money." The Winslow bill would remove from the mother the disability to recover their property and would not remove it from the daughters. In all other respects they would be identical, but one, by reason of having married the German would get back her money, and the others by not having married Germans would not be able to get it back, which I hardly think would be exactly a fair deal.

Now, there is one other question which I want to bring up, and whether it could be included in this bill or not, I do not know but it is: Where an American had property-was in Germany-and had property which was invested and the Alien Property Custodian took it over in kind, that property has been producing an income, and on its being surrendered to the party from which it was taken, it carries with it all of the income which it has earned. We have


ot an

« PreviousContinue »