Memorandum by the Under Secretary of State (Stettinius) to President Roosevelt

On February 9, 19443 you transmitted to me and requested my recommendation on the attached memorandum dated January 22, 1944,4 addressed to you by the Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, the Archivist of the United States and the Librarian of Congress suggesting that this Government, in conjunction with the principal Allied governments, make provision for the establishment of an international commission to take constructive and effective measures for the intellectual rehabilitation of Europe.

This Department’s Division of Science, Education and Art (formerly the Division of Cultural Relations) has been and is giving this important subject active attention. As the memorandum in question recognizes, an adequate program in this field will require the active cooperative participation of various governmental and private agencies in this country and the establishment of effective international facilities for inter-governmental cooperation.

To these ends we propose to take the following steps in the immediate future:

Appoint an outstanding leader from the field of intellectual and educational organizations as Chief of the Department’s Division of Science, Education and Art. The plan is to appoint a man who ordinarily could not be attracted to this position, requesting him to undertake the job as a temporary public service for the purpose of reappraising our cultural relations program and realigning it for most effective operations in the light of future conditions and needs. This man would also be expected to select and groom a highly qualified successor to take over the permanent position in the Department. Dr. Waldo Leland, Director of the American Council of Learned Societies, appears to be the best qualified man who might be available for this assignment at this time.
Make a public statement of the Department’s and this Government’s general policies in respect to these matters in order that there may be a clear policy basis on which private and governmental agencies here may develop cooperative programs and the inter-governmental facilities may be created. Attached hereto is a proposed statement which, with any changes you may care to suggest, will be issued by the Department.5
Submit proposals to the British Government and the other governments having members or observers in the existing Conference of Allied Ministers of Education in London for the transformation of the present conference into an United Nations Advisory Commission [Page 967] for Educational and Cultural Reconstruction. To date we have not participated in the existing Conference, but have sent observers. We propose to suggest to these governments that the Commission be organized in London not later than this April as a temporary body with investigatory and advisory powers, each member having one vote, with a program to study and formulate recommendations for action on the following immediate and critical problems:
aiding in the material rebuilding of national educational systems.
aiding in the reestablishment of technical and university education, especially for the training of educational and other professional personnel by furnishing books, periodicals, scientific apparatus, etc.
aiding, within the scope of its functions, in recovering objects and materials looted by Axis countries from historic monuments, art galleries, archives, and libraries, and aid in restoring them to their rightful owners.

If these three proposed steps have your approval, we shall go forward on these lines immediately.

Edward R. Stettinius, Jr.
  1. Memorandum by President Roosevelt, not printed.
  2. Not printed.
  3. For text of statement issued by the Department on March 31, 1944, see Department of State Bulletin, April 1, 1944, p. 299.