ILLINOIS STATE ARCHIVES
Hard Times in Illinois, 1930–1940
A Selection of Documents from the Illinois State Archives
LETTER FROM THE U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE REQUESTING INFORMATION FOR THE AUSTRIAN GOVERNMENT
October 13, 1931
The Austrian economy had been wrecked by that country's participation and defeat in the Great War. After that war Austria found itself deprived of the resources of its old empire. Workers in the cities and peasants on the farms faced inflation, scarce food, a breakdown of trade at home and abroad, and the burden of enormous war reparations. Although the League of Nations placed a twenty-year moratorium on reparations in 1922 recovery remained elusive. When Austria's major bank defaulted in May of 1931 the government attempted to prop it up by guaranteeing bank deposits with the state's assets. When insufficient loans of gold came from abroad the monetary system collapsed. Unemployment particularly was hard felt in the cities.
Governor Emmerson made his reply on October 19. He wrote, "…I have the honor to inform you that the State of Illinois has not enacted any laws dealing with unemployment."
Points to Consider
What was U.S Secretary of State Stimson asking Governor Emmerson to do?
Who was Dr. Karl Forchheimer?
What was a "franked address label"?
Why would unemployment have been a problem in Austria in October 1931?