740.0011 European War 1939/19567

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

Participants: Mr. Berle
The Ambassador or Minister of: Australia; Belgium; Canada; Costa Rica; Cuba; Czechoslovakia; Dominican Republic; El Salvador; Greece; Guatemala; Haiti; Honduras; India; Luxembourg; Netherlands; New Zealand; Nicaragua; Norway; Panama; Poland; Union of South Africa; Yugoslavia.

The above named gentlemen called, at my request.

They thereupon signed the Declaration by United Nations,50 in my presence and in the presence of Mr. Carlton Savage.

The Polish Ambassador said he had instructions to call to the attention of this Government, at time of signing, the declaration made by his Government under date of September 24, 1941;51 he would embody this in a note. I said we were glad to take note of it.

The Norwegian Minister said that at the meeting held in the White House some days ago there had been some talk as to whether the Danish Minister52 should sign on behalf of the Danish Government. The Danish Government, had, however, declined to resist at the same time when the Norwegian Government had elected to fight it out, and accordingly Norway was suffering many griefs. With all of the kindliest feeling in the world for the Danish people, he did not think that the two governments could stand in the same category. I called to his attention that the document did not provide for signature by the Danish Government, and could not do so, since the Danish Government was not at war; and Mr. De Kauffmann would not, I thought, feel that he could have signed the document as it stood, in any event.

Sir Girja Shankar Bajpai signed the document “The Government of India, by” etc. He later telephoned to say that on re-reading his instructions he was directed to sign merely, “India”, and authorized me to erase the words “Government of”; Mr. Savage and I thereupon did, under that authority.

The American republics, other than Panama, came in a body and signed at 11:30. The Panamanian Ambassador, who was ill, arrived rather later.

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The Canadian Minister signed, asking if we were content to accept telephonic authority, to which I, of course, at once agreed.

The signatures were completed at 2:05.

Following instructions from Mr. Welles, I said to each one that I had understood that the principal signatory governments took the view that the last paragraph of the Declaration would make it possible to permit adherence by free representatives of subjugated peoples where there was no actual government; but in any such case adherence would presumably have to be to the “principles” of the Declaration, since such representatives of course were not at war and therefore could not enter into a covenant not to make a separate peace. It might be that we should wish to exchange notes on the subject later.

A. A. Berle, Jr.
  1. President Roosevelt, Prime Minister Churchill, Ambassador Litvinov, and Foreign Minister Soong, representing the United States, United Kingdom, Soviet Union, and China, respectively, had signed the Declaration by United Nations on January 1, 1942, in President Roosevelt’s study.
  2. British Cmd. 6315, Misc. No. 3 (1941): Inter-Allied Meeting Held in London at St. James’s Palace on September 24, 1941, Report of Proceedings, p. 14.
  3. Henrik de Kauffmann.