Memorandum of Conversation, by the Assistant Secretary of State (Acheson)
Dr. Thomsen5 called on me this morning to hand me the attached Aide-Mémoire.6 I told him that I would turn it over to the Legal Adviser for his consideration. Dr. Thomsen read the document to me and stated that this was merely a legal opinion occasioned by the press reports of legal views expressed by the British Government and was not what he termed a “political opinion.” I asked him whether the memorandum should be construed to mean that in the opinion of his Government only a belligerent power had the Right of Angary. He stated that this was not the view intended to be expressed but that it was a prerequisite of the right that there be a condition of urgent national necessity. He agreed that the existence of such a condition was a conclusion of fact to be drawn from all circumstances, but pointed out that one of the circumstances would be the reported [Page 454] transfer of ships of American registry to the British flag. I did not discuss this matter at all.
Dr. Thomsen also handed me the attached yellow ticker sheet7 and asked me if I knew of the “official estimates of German dollar balances in the United States” referred to in the statement. I told him that I had no knowledge whatever of the matter.