Memorandum by the Assistant Secretary of State (Berle)

A meeting was held in my office yesterday, consisting of Dr. Feis, Mr. Livesey,23 Mr. Collado,24 Mr. Cumming25 (Eu), and Mr. Roosevelt (A–A). This was called in response to a suggestion from Dr. Feis, to discuss the Netherlands loan.

After a short discussion, it developed:

All parties were agreed that there was no particular reason for making a loan or commitment to a loan of three hundred million dollars to the Netherlands Government. The Netherlands Government stated that it had a budget deficit; but so do all other governments. The Netherlands Government is not in need of funds, having more than a billion dollars of available assets now. The probable motivation was to induce us to recognize the decree of 1940, which gives to the Netherlands Government the power of disposal of private assets in the United States of persons presently resident in the Netherlands. We are not clear that this is a desirable thing to do. Dr. Feis, modifying an earlier expressed view, stated that in his view also it was undesirable to make such a loan.
It was agreed that if the Netherlands Government really felt that it needed money we would endeavor to take steps tending to facilitate the transfer of gold here by their Central Bank to the Netherlands Government, so that it could be sold to the United States Treasury for dollars. Note was taken of the fact that the Netherlands Government proably does not wish to do this.
It is understood that the Secretary feels that the Reconstruction Finance Corporation should take the primary position in this matter.

There was agreement that it would be well if the Secretary could telephone Mr. Jesse Jones, saying, in substance, that the matter was being left with him for decision but that the Department had difficulty in seeing any pressing need for the loan. It was suggested also that the Secretary call to the attention of Mr. Jones the fact that, should this loan go through, we should of once be besieged with applications for other loans from all of the governments-in-exile. [Page 466]Certainly a condition of any loan if granted would have to be heavy restriction on its use for purchasing, else we should have competitive buying in our markets for all sorts of postwar stock piles.

A[dolf] A. B[erle], Jr.
  1. Frederick Livesey, Chief of the Financial Division.
  2. Emilio G. Collado, Associate Adviser on International Economic Affairs.
  3. Hugh S. Cumming, Jr., Assistant Chief of the Division of European Affairs.