President Roosevelt to the Chief Justice of the United States (Stone)
My Dear Mr. Chief Justice: In my letter of December 28, 19424 I informed you that the proposal for the creation of an organization for the protection and salvage of artistic and historic monuments in Europe, as set forth in your letter of December 8 written as Chairman ex officio of the Board of Trustees of the National Gallery of Art, had been referred to the appropriate agencies of the Government for study.
Since the proposed American committee would necessarily have to work in close touch with the appropriate branches of the United States armed forces during the war, it was considered appropriate at the very outset to have the views of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The matter was accordingly taken up with Admiral Leahy,5 who replied that, while this undertaking does not appear to promise any military advantage, the Joint Chiefs of Staff are in agreement as to its eventual desirability and will, when and if the committee is appointed, direct the American commanders concerned to give the committee every practicable assistance that does not interfere with their military operations.
Since your original memorandum suggested that Governor Lehman be a member of the American committee, a suggestion with which I am in hearty agreement, the proposal was next discussed with him. He replied that it is quite possible that if a United Nations relief and rehabilitation agency is created, it may be willing to interest itself in the plan, but that he cannot, of course, speak for the proposed agency. He added that if the suggested committee is formed, he will be glad indeed to serve as a member.
The next logical step, prior to the formal constitution of an American committee, would appear to be an approach to the British and Soviet Governments, inquiring whether each would be prepared, in case the proposal meets with general approval, to appoint a national committee to cooperate with corresponding committees appointed by the other two nations concerned. This step is now being taken by the American Embassies in London and Moscow. I shall keep you informed of any further developments.