The Chief Justice of the United States ( Stone ) to President Roosevelt

My Dear Mr. President: I write as Chairman Ex-officio of the Board of Trustees of the National Gallery of Art, to ask your support of a plan for the creation of an organization functioning under the auspices of the Government, for the protection and conservation of works of art and of artistic or historic monuments and records in Europe, and to aid in salvaging and returning to, or compensating in kind, the lawful owners of such objects which have been appropriated by the Axis powers or by individuals acting with their authority or consent. Beside the accomplishment of these worthy objects an incidental, but not unimportant advantage to be immediately gained is the proclamation to the world, friends and enemies, of our practical concern in protecting these symbols of civilization from injury and spoliation.

The Board of Trustees of the National Gallery considered the matter at a recent meeting and asked that I bring it to your attention. I have been in consultation also with Mr. Francis Henry Taylor, Director of the Metropolitan Museum of New York and Chairman of the Association of Art Museum Directors, and with Dr. William Bell Dinsmoor, President of the Archaeological Institute of America, who are equally concerned that steps should be taken to meet the present situation.

With the assistance of Mr. Taylor and Mr. Dinsmoor, and also Mr. Finley and Mr. Walker of the National Gallery, I have prepared the enclosed memorandum1 which I submit for your consideration and earnestly hope that some measures may be taken for the formation of a Joint British and American Committee for putting into effect the suggestions made in the enclosed memorandum.

It is our thought that a committee such as is suggested will function best in connection with the organization headed by Governor [Page 470] man,2 and in association with military officers attached to the command of our Armies of Occupation and specially charged with the protection of such artistic and historic objects.

Faithfully yours,

Harlan F. Stone
  1. Not printed; it was the same as the substitute memorandum enclosed with Chief Justice Stone’s letter of December 23, 1942, infra, except that in this earlier memorandum no provision was made for the participation of the Soviet Union.
  2. Herbert H. Lehman, Director, Office of Foreign Relief and Rehabilitation Operations, Department of State.