840.403/5a: Airgram

The Secretary of State to the Ambassador in the United Kingdom (Winant)3

A–612. The Chief Justice of the United States acting in his capacity as Chairman ex officio of the Board of Trustees of the National Gallery of Art has submitted to the President a plan for the creation of committees in the United States, Great Britain and Russia, to cooperate in effecting a program for the protection and conservation of works of art and of artistic or historic monuments and records in Europe. The plan anticipates the formulation of a program which would enable the three committees to assist 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 the latters’ authority or consent.

The President has indicated his approval of the proposal in principle, and has requested the Department to give it further study. It is considered that the adoption of the proposal might have a moral effect of positive advantage to the Allied cause, serving as it would to underscore the criminal acts of the Axis and the determination of the Allies to restore order and justice. You are accordingly requested to approach the government to which you are accredited, inquiring what studies have been made of this problem and what plans have been considered for dealing with it, as well as whether that government would be prepared, in case the project meets with general approval, to appoint a national committee to cooperate with corresponding committees appointed by the other two nations concerned. Please report to the Department by airgram.

  1. The same to the Ambassador in the Soviet Union as No. A–16, April 19, 5 p.m.