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Circular letter to Executive Committee & Consultative Members (A)
Series of 1922
Ms. Yella Hertzka, member of the Executive Committee to the members of the Board and the Consultative Members,
Proposal concerning the transfer of the Geneva office to Vienna.
Due to the ongoing record increase of the Swiss franc, all those institutions which have established their headquarters in Switzerland are now financially extremely unfavorable, and most of these institutions are also considering moving their offices for this reason; the relocation of the headquarters of the League of Nations is being talked about more and more seriously, the International Red Cross has moved its headquarters to Paris* and many individuals who had retired to Switzerland have had to leave it temporarily because of inflation.
For the Women’s International League, which already found it relatively difficult to raise the funds to run the office for the next two years at the last congress, the question to be considered is how it can make the most of these resources for itself.
Approx. 72,000— frs. have been raised, while the preliminarily cost for the two-year management will amount to approx. 100,000— frs. This does not include the possibility – which is always decided by the Executive Committee – that propaganda in those countries that occupy hardly any or only small departments in the League should be paid by the International Bureau.
In recent months, the exchange rates have been such that on average one could obtain 1,000— Austrian Kr. for 1 Sw. frs. With an annual budget of 50,000— frs., that makes 50,000,000— Kr. Of these 50,000,000— Kr. a year, one could save at least 2/3 or 2/3 could be used for such purposes of the League for which one currently does not have any money for.
The International Office in Vienna would have the following budget if the salaries and office expenses were properly calculated:
Monthly salary of the general secretary . . . . . Kr. 150,000—
Monthly salary of 2 secretariat members ([Kr.?] 80,000—) Kr. 160,000—
Office rooms including lighting monthly . . . . . Kr. 50,000—
Monthly salary of a attendant . . . . . Kr. 40,000—
Monthly heating (spread over the whole year) Kr. 10,000—
Monthly expenses for mail, paper, writing materials, etc. Kr. 50,000—
Miscellaneous . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Kr. 40,000—
Monthly amount Kr. 500,000—
That is per year Kr. 6,000,000— [page 2]
JA sent Feby 14, 1922 [negative] [page 3]
In Swiss frs. this would currently be 6,000— frs. At today’s exchange rate 44,000 frs. could be saved, resp. could be used for other purposes – publications, propaganda trips, establishment of intern. homes etc.
Assuming that the price of the Krone would increase by 100% – which according to the opinion of the Austrian financial experts is unlikely to happen soon – expenditure would increase from 6,000— frs. to 12,000— frs., and yet still result in significant savings.
The Geneva House could quietly continue to exist as the Maison International, housing the reading room and welcoming members of the League who have to stay in Geneva on the occasion of the meetings of the League of Nations or other international associations. It could be run by the Geneva Group of the League, in such a way that by renting the rooms, the expenses are covered.
The relocation of the International Office should not be a permanent one, but should comply with world relations.
The League, to whose maintenance expenses the countries with low currency cannot make a significant contribution – because their money in Sw. frs. has almost no value – has no reason to have its office in what is now the most expensive country in the world. It also makes it impossible for all members, executive and consultative members, to work in the Swiss office because they cannot cover the costs of their stay there. This will be demonstrated at the next meeting of the Executive Committee if it takes place in Geneva. It is also not possible for the citizens of Southern Europe, the Poles, Russians etc., to travel to Switzerland. Also, the French already feel the inflation and so actually it is only the Nordic countries, England, and America whose citizens do not feel the inflation in Switzerland. At all of the conferences the need to spread peace among the people of Central and Southern Europe is now emphasized; on the other hand, there are insufficient resources in the League to promote propaganda in these countries, particularly by publishing writings in the respective languages.
Surely no one can think of blaming the League for saving money for the noble purposes it pursues by relocating its headquarters to a country with lower currency. This is of no consequences in relation to the many foreigners who now choose Austria as a place of residence in order to be able to live better here.
My proposal now is that, as long as the financial situation is such, part of the headquarters should be relocated to Vienna, mainly because we can immediately provide you with office space in Vienna and because Austria today is such a small country, forced to be neutral, which also has Vienna, a fully international city.
Apart from Vienna, Prague or Budapest could possibly be considered, although it must be assumed that the currencies of these two countries in any case will recover more quickly than that of Austria.
I therefore invite the Executive Committee and the consultative members to comment as soon as possible on the following questions:
* As far as I know there has never been any talk of relocating the International Red Cross to Paris and its headquarters are still in Geneva. M.G.