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

The Danish Minister came in to see me, at his request.

He referred to the recent reports emanating from Denmark and tending to show that the King was now guarded in one of his country palaces and that the Government had resigned. He said that at the moment he had no information other than that which came through the press, and that he had already been told by Mr. Beams, of the European Division, that we had no reports, either. I said that this was true.

He said that as it seemed to him, before he could take account of stock, two situations had to be clarified:

Was it true that the King was now captive and that the Danish Government had been dispersed; and
Was it true, as stated, that a number of Danish political personages had escaped to Sweden, where they might undertake to carry on political activity?

Until these questions were answered, he said, he could not see that there was much to be done at this time. He had felt right along that the Danish people would make some move, partly because of their settled hostility to the Germans, but partly because most Danes felt that they could not save their souls unless in some outstanding fashion they aligned themselves definitely against the Nazis. He knew they had been increasingly restive under the rather passive regime.

Agreeing that it was premature, he then asked what our view as to his status was, in the light of developments, and in the light of the possibility that some of the Danes might have escaped to Sweden. I said that obviously we could not say anything without knowing the facts. We had long ago continued to recognize him as Minister of Denmark, though representing a government which was in effect captive. On the basis of the press reports, nothing had happened so far except that the captivity was now obvious, whereas heretofore there had been an attempt to deny the fact.

As to the possibility of escaped Danish personages in Sweden, of course I could say nothing. The Minister was well acquainted with our policy towards so-called free movements and with the fact that we were cautious about assuming the representative quality of such free movements in the absence of access to the peoples they claimed to represent. This did not, of course, prevent us from dealing with a situation in which such a group were representative, as in the case of President Beneš.8

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I said that I had discussed the matter with Secretary Hull this morning and that I hoped the Minister would keep in close touch with us, since he might have information we did not have. He agreed to do this.

A[dolf] A. B[erle], Jr.
  1. Of Czechoslovakia.