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

Mr. Law came down to see me at my request.

I brought up the matter of the Danish situation, and handed him the memorandum25 of even date herewith prepared in answer to the British memorandum26 making suggestions as to a joint statement by our two Governments regarding the recent Danish rising against the Germans. Our memorandum suggests in essence that we drop the matter in view of the fact that the British wish to push the Danish Council in London as part of the statement.

I added a few observations. It seems to me that there was the beginning of a possible rivalry between the Danish Council, Christmas Moeller and Reventlow in London on the one hand and de Kauffmann and the Danish groups here. The fact was that Christmas Moeller had broadcast to Denmark followed by an uncoordinated effort of the British political warfare people to stimulate a rising in Denmark; this had occurred; the Danish Council in London, apparently without guidance from the British Foreign Office had then telegraphed all Danish societies in America asking their support over de Kauffmann’s head. This had not been understood here. The British suggestion that the Danish Council might be recognized as primus inter pares, of course, made no sense here.

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I thereupon suggested:

That we continue to regard the King of Denmark as the symbol of Danish nationality—which seems to accord with the usual feeling in Denmark;
That we continue to regard the Danish Ministers outside Denmark, who have declared independence since the King had become a prisoner, as the King’s representatives—especially since they continued to be accorded recognition as such by the countries to which they were accredited;
That the Danish Council in London be used by the British for British purposes just as we use the groups of Danish businessmen and the Danish-American societies here as bodies with which de Kauffmann might consult;
That in the event that political differences should arise requiring bringing these various interests together, we might consult together.

Meanwhile, we might consider what kind of a step might be taken to encourage the Danes in Denmark. Decisions on that could await further reflection since the logical occasion for such a gesture had now passed.

I commented on the British suggestion that we consult the Russians in this regard and observed that the principal Danish interests were inside the Western Hemisphere. I did not think that our people were prepared to accept consultation with the Russians in matters affecting this Hemisphere; for example, we would not wish to consult them particularly regarding Martinique, and could not, I thought, be in the position of suggesting Greenland to tri-partite consultation.

Mr. Law seemed to accept this; and said that he thought the four-point disposition of affairs was acceptable. He said that the matter should not have been allowed to reach this point; and ought not to have got to this level.

A. A. B[erle], Jr.
  1. Infra.
  2. Ante, p. 17.