859 B.01/170

Memorandum of Conversation, by the Assistant Secretary of State (Berle)

The Canadian Minister4 came in this morning, at my request.

I said that in accordance with the understanding reached between him and Mr. Dunn,5 I wished to inform him of the steps we were considering with respect to Greenland. We had asked the Danish Minister whether it would be satisfactory to send a consul to Greenland. We understood that he was communicating with the Greenland councils in respect to this request. Such information as we had indicated that the advice would probably be favorable and in that case we would send the consul.

I stated, further, that yesterday the Danish Minister had come to the Department and had shown us a copy of the press release announcing the formation of a Greenland Committee. He had asked whether we had any objections or observations, and I had replied that we had no advice to offer. We saw no reason to object; on the other hand, we did not see that it was any affair of ours.

The Minister thanked me for the information. He said he was particularly interested in the announcement of the Greenland Committee. The Danish Minister had spoken to him, indicating that the formation of the Committee had the “approval” of the United States Government, [Page 347]but had so put the matter that he, Mr. Christie, was not clear whether that meant affirmative approval or merely the fact that we saw no reason why we should interfere in the matter. The statement made had cleared that question up. He said he would promptly report this to Ottawa, lest any nervousness appear there.

He asked whether we understood that the Committee could have any political functions. I said that I did not see how it possibly could have any such functions; that as I understood it this was a committee of Danes or their friends, who merely wished to act in an advisory capacity in connection with any special needs of Greenland which might arise. However, I said, this was entirely a matter for the Danish Minister.

So far as political authority was concerned, I said, we were proceeding on the theory that such political functions as there were resided in the Greenland councils and their governors, who were now cut off from the Copenhagen government by reason of the occupation.

Mr. Christie observed that this was his view, also. He saw no reason, for instance, why the Danish consul in Canada, if he took the same line as de Kauffmann, might not constitute a similar committee, or why a trade commissioner might not be sent to represent the Canadian interests. To this I made no comment, except to observe that I presumed the Danish authorities of Greenland were free to make their own arrangements in Canada.

In leaving, the Canadian Minister asked whether we had been consulted as to the personnel of the Greenland Committee. I said we had not; that I had known of its membership for the first time when the Danish Minister had presented his proposed press release. We had not been consulted nor had we taken any part in the formation of the Committee.

The Canadian Minister said that this was his understanding, also, and he was very glad to have it confirmed.

A. A. Berle, Jr.
  1. Loring C. Christie.
  2. James C. Dunn, Advisor on Political Relations.