Henriette Hansen Beenfeldt to Emily Greene Balch, April 2, 1922


Series 1922 A 9, B 8

P.S. I wish to commend to your attention, in drafting a memorial, the following letter from Mrs. Beenfeldt.

Vodroffsplade 6, Copenhagen V, Denmark.

April 2, 1922

Several Danish and Swedish writers on political economy and politics have pointed out that the Cannes conference [program] (as it is known to the public) submitted for adoption by the government of the countries that are to take part in the Genoa conference in April, involves danger to the economical independence of the small states.

In section I after an assurance of the free liberty of nations to legislate on property, economy and government matters, one reads:

"It is, however, impossible to place foreign capital at disposal for the help of the various countries (i.e. none excepted) unless the foreign capitalists are assured that their property and rights are respected and the profits of their transactions guaranteed to them."

As a link in these precautions the setting up of a lawful juridical system is insisted on to confirm and ensure the impartial fulfillment of all commercial and other contracts, which can only mean a guardianship over the borrowing country, in whose "juridical system" a high commissioner for the foreign private capitalist is supposed to sit, with power to control any legislative bills in the parliament of the country concerned, whilst attempts at evading the controls of such bills may be considered an unfriendly act towards the foreign powers. In other words the second half of the section cancels the first. It is a matter of course that foreign capitalists claim effective precautions for instance towards Russia, and we also hear in our country from other quarters that this control only aims at Russia. The Danish section of our league, whose attention I [page 3] have drawn to this fact think that they have not sufficient knowledge to bring the matter forward, but have asked me to make a separate statement to our Headquarters.

Accordingly I earnestly beg the delegates of our League to the Genoa Conference to try to use their influence in favor of an indisputable distinctness in the final wording of the sections so as to make it absolutely clear, when Russia is meant and when not, for in above named [program] no exception is made, so that the hard conditions apply to all borrowing countries and bring them into a state of economic dependance that will appear absolutely unbearable for every independent people.

It is apprehended that military means of coercion will be employed to enforce the fulfillment of the obligations of the debtor by the governments of the Great Powers, who at the Cannes Conference attended to the interests of the magnates of private capital.

Altogether the appearance of the great power as the guarantees of the economical interests of their subjects in foreign countries *) will most dangerously add to the possibilities of war in future.

It is said that special consideration will be given to statements from neutral countries, so I hope, that this appeal through our excellent delegation will be attended with success i.e. ensure full liberty to the individual state to arrange its economical matters according to own judgment.

(signed) Henriette Beenfeldt.

*) see our Hague resolution 13 b.