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

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

He had seen the President and expected to see Secretary Hull this morning; and his visit was merely to keep me up-to-date.

He said that in his conversation with the President he had indicated that he thought some gesture might be made which would encourage and hearten the Danish people in the hour of their trial. The President had been more than sympathetic to the idea—and inquired what he had in mind. The Minister thereupon had suggested a statement along the lines of the attached copy9—preferably to be made by the President and Mr. Churchill.10 The Minister hoped that before [Page 11]Churchill left town, the President and Churchill might arrange to receive him and perhaps thereafter put out some such statement. He wondered what I thought.

I said that since he was to see Secretary Hull in a few moments, it would be well for him to take this up with the Secretary. So far as I was concerned, it seemed to me like an idea well worth considering.

He said that the President had indicated a slight question in the next to the last paragraph. This paragraph speaks of the Danish official representatives in Washington and London as trustees for Danish interests outside Denmark, “working for the liberation of Denmark together with Free Danish organizations all over the world”. The Minister said that he put this in partly to remind the existence of the Danish Council in London and partly to indicate that the Danish Council was not the only such Council in existence. There were vastly larger American societies far more entitled to recognition than the handful of Danish business and shipping men who lived in London. He did not mention, but I think had in mind, the possibility of a similar group which existed in Sweden.

He said with entire frankness that the effect of such a statement would be in part to build up his own position a little, but under the circumstances he thought this was allowable. Again, though he did not say so, I think he had in mind the fact that the juniors in the British Foreign Office have indicated a slight tendency to try to take over control of the whole Danish matter by emphasizing the position of Christmas Moeller11 in London and by drawing out of obscurity the rather meek Danish Minister Reventlow in London.

I indicated that general sympathy was with the Danish people and with the Minister’s hope of being able to crystallize the situation.

A[dolf] A. B[erle], Jr.

Note: In the balance, the Danish Minister’s idea seems to be a good one. Our interests in the Danish situation are quite as large as the British—partly because of the great number of Danish ships, partly because of our vast interest in Greenland, partly because we presently have the responsibility of Iceland. There is, in my judgment, no possible doubt that the Danish Minister here is the strongest Danish figure outside of Denmark, as well as the one who took the most courageous stand and who also has the greatest political standing at home. Finally, he has a continuing mandate as plenipotentiary for the Danish Government when it was last free to act and has disposal of the Danish funds here under the Secretary’s supervision. He would probably be accepted in Denmark as the Dane outside the country best qualified to handle the Danish interests.

A. A. B., Jr.
  1. Not attached to file copy of memorandum, but see draft statement, p. 12.
  2. Winston S. Churchill, British Prime Minister.
  3. Head of the Free Danish Council in London.