840.403/70

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

My Dear Mr. President: This is to supplement my letter of December 8th proposing, in behalf of my associates at the National Gallery, a program for the organization of a committee for the protection and salvage of historic monuments in Europe.

Those who were active in the preparation of this program have come to the conclusion that Russia should be asked to participate in the work of the committee. I approve of this suggested change and hand to you herewith a revised memorandum which may be substituted for the memorandum which I enclosed in my earlier letter.

Yours faithfully,

Harlan F. Stone
[Enclosure]

Memorandum by the Chief Justice of the United States (Stone)

The following recommendations are submitted for the consideration of the President:

1. That the President appoint a Committee to be known as the American Committee for the Protection and Salvage of Artistic and Historic Monuments in Europe. The purpose of such a Committee shall be to aid in the conservation of artistic and historic monuments in Europe, and in the establishment of machinery to return to the rightful owners works of art and historic documents appropriated by the Axis Powers.

The Committee to function with:

  • The appropriate branch of the Army.
  • Governor Lehman’s Rehabilitation Program.

The Committee to consist of:

  • A Chairman who shall be an officer of the United States Government with rank not lower than a member of the President’s Cabinet.
  • Governor Lehman.
  • The Librarian of Congress.
  • The Director of the National Gallery of Art.
  • The President of the Association of Art Museum Directors.
  • The President of the Archeological Institute of America.

2. That the United States Department of State be requested, through the appropriate officials in Washington, London and Moscow, to present a request to the British Government and the Government of the Soviet Republic for the formation of a British Committee and a Russian Committee to act with the American Committee in carrying out the work outlined above.

3. It is further recommended that the American, British and Russian Committees form a Subcommittee of Experts in the different fields of art such as:

  • The Chief Curator of the National Gallery of Art.
  • The Director of the Chicago Art Institute.
  • The Director of the Boston Museum of Fine Arts.
  • A representative of the Library of Congress.
  • A representative of the Archeological Institute of America.
  • Five representatives of equivalent institutions in England.
  • Five representatives of equivalent institutions in the Soviet Republic.

4. The function of the American, British and Russian Committees shall be:

A.
During the War:
i.
The American Committee to work with the appropriate branch of the United States Army, and the British and Russian Committees to work with the appropriate branches of the British and Russian Armies, for the purpose of furnishing to the General Staff of each Army, museum officials and art historians, so that, so far as is consistent with military necessity, works of cultural value may be protected in countries occupied by armies of the United Nations. There are, at present, serving in the armed forces of this country, (and also probably in the British and Russian Armies) qualified museum officials and art historians who could, if desired, be attached to general headquarters of armies on active combat in the European theatre of operation.
ii.
To compile, through the assistance of refugee historians of art and librarians, lists of property appropriated by the Axis invading forces, by representatives of Axis governments, and by private citizens of Axis countries. This work should be begun and supervised by the American, British and Russian Subcommittee of Experts under the general direction of the three National Committees.
B.
At the time of the Armistice:
i.
The American, British and Russian Committees for the Protection and Salvage of Artistic and Historic Monuments should urge that the Armistice terms include the restitution of public property appropriated by the Axis Powers. Where it is not possible to restore such property, either because it has been destroyed or cannot be found, [Page 472] restitution in kind should be made by the Axis Powers to the countries from which the property has been taken. In such cases, the Subcommittee of Experts should recommend to the American, British and Russian National Committees a list of equivalent works of art or historic documents which should be transferred to the invaded countries from Axis museums or from the private collections of Axis leaders.
ii.
The American, British and Russian National Committees should urge that restitution be made of private property appropriated by the Axis Nations. Claims for such property could be presented to and reviewed by the Subcommittee of Experts which would, in turn, report to the American, British and Russian National Committees and make recommendations for equitable settlements.