859.85/1–1046: Telegram

The Acting Secretary of State to the Minister in Denmark ( Davis )

20. Approximately 85% of the Danish shipowners interest in just compensation negotiations for settlement of owners claims has today been settled on the basis of US valuation as if the requisitioned properties were American vessels.97 The remaining interests are offered a similar basis of settlement on a take it or leave it basis provided decision is made within a reasonable time. It is understood that the latter interest is not fully represented here and final settlement must await decision at least partially by principals in Denmark. Urtel 22, January 10, 1946.98 The settlement involves both compensation for title and compensation for use with return of existing vessels to owners who desire them. Financial and contractual conditions will be made available to you for your information as soon as contracts of settlement are signed.

During negotiations concerning Danish vessels now carried on since April 1940, the Dept has at all times taken the position that the Dept and the Danish Minister should cooperate in offering their good offices towards a just settlement of these claims. The Danish Minister at times has pressed for a diplomatic settlement. The Dept has taken a position based upon the Ship Requisition Act of 1941 that a diplomatic settlement would not be undertaken until local remedies had been exhausted as provided by law. The Danish shipowners of the properties and the legally constituted authority, the WSA,99 now appear to have reached settlement satisfactory to both parties.

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The Dept has been fully aware of the confusion and delay encountered in the settlement of this case. It has been and has at all times fully protected the rights of Danish citizens. The Dept has from time to time expressed sympathy for the Danish owners and appreciation of the splendid cooperation and services given to these and other ships by Danish officers and crews who took an active part in sea services during the war period. Appropriate statements of Danish cooperation both on the part of the Danish Government and Danish nationals will be made to the Danish Minister here and relayed to the Legation as the case is finally closed.


[The Danish shipowners, through negotiated settlement contracts made in 1946 and 1947, received $28,018,294 and by two series of suits before the Court of Claims, ending in 1952 and 1956, received $4, 112,395 and $3,301,661 respectively. The remaining claims for compensation were settled by payment of $5,296,302 under an agreement between the United States and Denmark effected by an exchange of notes on August 28, 1958, making total payments of $40,728,652. See Department of State Bulletin, June 24, 1957, page 1020, and ibid., September 22, 1958, page 474.]

  1. On December 17, 1945, the War Shipping Administrator (Land) made a determination as to the valuation of the requisitioned Danish vessels, but largely as a result of a letter from Acting Secretary of State Clayton to Admiral Land dated January 9, 1946, urging that a higher valuation be made, Admiral Land made a new determination on January 14, 1946 (859.85/2–2746).
  2. Not printed; it reported that the Counselor of the Danish Legation in the United States, Bang-Jensen, had arrived in Copenhagen and “seems disturbed by turn negotiations have taken in Washington and feels that question might more easily be settled if taken up on a high policy level by our govt.” (859.85/1–1046)
  3. War Shipping Administration.