Memorandum by the Assistant Secretary of State ( Berle ) to President Roosevelt 3

There has been referred to us a letter from the Hellenic Youth Association to you4 asking that you appoint a representative to confer with the Greek Orthodox Church in the matter of peace. The letter is unimportant, as the Greek Orthodox groups here have little influence.

But the letter suggests a line which might be worth considering. The Greek Orthodox Church has a good deal of influence in the Near East, the Balkans and the Eastern Mediterranean; and some faint residue of influence in southern Russia. There is no recognized head, Patriarchs having separate jurisdiction in various regions [i. e. Istanbul, Alexandria, Antioch and Jerusalem];5 but the acknowledged senior is the Patriarch at Istanbul. He could probably convene or consult with the other Patriarchs.

This might be a line worth following. Certainly the contact with the Vatican, plus the contact with the King of Italy, has materially altered the whole diplomatic situation in Italy. Conceivably, the combination of contact with Turkey, with Ibn-Saud and the Mohammedans, and with the Greek Orthodox Church, might materially influence the Near East. As far as I can see, that situation rests now entirely on the attitude of Turkey; it is, in fact, the only solid obstacle which prevents the caving in of the eastern Mediterranean structure. Today’s despatches indicate that the Russians have not abandoned their desires to move southward toward the Dardanelles.

Like the move toward the Mohammedans, this ought to be prepared a little in advance by consultation with the Turkish Ambassador here.

A[dolf] A. B[erle]
  1. Photostatic copy obtained from the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library, Hyde Park, N. Y.
  2. Not printed.
  3. Portion enclosed by brackets was handwritten on margin of original document.