871.001 Mihai/3–2348

Memorandum of Conversation, by Mr. Horace J. Nickels of the Division of Southern European Affairs

Participants: King Michael (of Rumania)
The Queen Mother
Mr. Nickels, SE

At the initiative and invitation of King Michael, I called upon him today in his suite at the Shoreham Hotel. The King received me at the outset privately for a conversation lasting approximately fifteen minutes after which the Queen Mother joined us for an additional period of about fifteen minutes.

The conversation began with customary amenities including reference to Messrs. Burton Berry and Roy Melbourne, our former Representatives in Rumania. Then the King remarked that there were several matters which he had wished to discuss with me as Geographic Desk Officer for Rumanian Affairs.

First, he said that since leaving Rumania the possibility of his obtaining information on developments there had ceased and he would like to know something about these. In response, I sketched in a very general way, the salient features of the accelerated communization of Rumania, touching chiefly on the economic measures that had been put into effect, the proposed new constitution, the forthcoming parliamentary elections and the rumored cabinet changes to follow the elections.

The King said that, because his lines of communication with Rumania had been broken, he would appreciate it greatly if he might from time to time obtain from us information concerning developments in his country. He said he supposed that much of our Bucharest Legation’s reporting was classified and that he did not wish to ask for any material of a secret character; what he was interested in was information of a general nature. He said that he would like to leave his personal secretary, Mr. Ioanitiu, in the United States on his return to Europe in April, if that could be arranged, and wondered in such event whether Ioanitiu might from time to time obtain such information from us on his behalf.

I mentioned the inquiry which Ioanitiu had just made to me as to what members of the National Peasant Party had been condemned in trials subsequent to that of Mr. Maniu.1 I said that I would give him [Page 409] that information and that if he had similar inquiries on occasion I would do what I could to inform him. The King said that he would not necessarily be in position to frame particular questions but wondered if it would be possible from time to time to obtain, without too much trouble to us, some kind of summary of general developments. I acknowledged his request for transmission to the Department.

As to the question of his secretary remaining in the United States upon the King’s return to Europe, I said I would be glad to look into the matter, indicating that I thought it might well be possible for a while at least, and suggested that Mr. Ioanitiu come in to the Department one day to clarify the period of validity of his visa and whatever statement he might have made to the Immigration authorities about his intended length of stay in this country. (Although the King did not mention it in this conversation, his secretary has indicated to Mr. Wisner2 and me that Michael himself would like to return to the United States after his marriage,3 which would call for a policy decision.

The King then said that the factional controversy of the Rumanian exiles and their various maneuvers to advance their personal interests by exploiting him was causing him great distress in various ways. He asked how the Department would regard an effort on his part to resolve their quarreling by bringing them together in some kind of committee in which their energies could be directed to a common cause of the welfare of Rumania. He indicated that he felt that General Radescu4 was the logical one to head such a committee. He said that he did not propose to tell the exiles how to do this or what persons should be selected for membership, but only that he would like to use his influence to put an end to a preposterous state of affairs and wished to know how the Department would regard the formation of such an organization.

I replied that the Department had taken an entirely neutral attitude on the formation of a Rumanian National Committee, not wishing to advise either for or against it. I added that I felt sure, however, that the Department would regard the formation at this time of anything resembling a Rumanian Government-in-exile as premature. The King brushed aside any thought of such an intention. I said that otherwise I believed that any efforts which he might be disposed to make to mitigate the strife among the émigreé would be welcomed by the Department.

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Michael went on to say, in comment on these conflicts, that he had been very much confused and disturbed by one or another person presuming to represent him or his interests in dealing with the Department and by this one or that claiming to represent the Department or its views in approaching him. He recalled that he had personally told Mr. Vincent5 in Bern that none of the Rumanians outside of his entourage were authorized to represent him or to discuss his affairs without specific commission to do so and that he wished to deal with the Department directly. He suggested that if he were in another country he would like to communicate with us through the American Chief of Mission there either in person or through his aide, Major Vergoti, and that if his secretary, Ioanitiu, could remain in this country he would like to designate him as the only authorized channel of communication here.

I told the King that I felt sure that his wish to deal with us directly was reciprocated by the Department. I said that I believed the Department would prefer that in the first instance he confer personally with our Chiefs of Mission abroad, but that I would be glad to receive Ioanitiu as his designated representative at any time. I explained that in advance of any indication from him we had dealt impartially with the Rumanian exiles who were favorably known to us—that if Messrs. Davila and Gafencu, for example, had called upon officers of the Department to present their views and inquiries on matters, including those relative to him, they had been cordially received, or if Messrs. Cretzianu, Buzesti and Visoianu6 had approached the Department with their views and inquiries they had been accorded a like reception. I said that the King’s request to Mr. Vincent about dealing with us directly on matters affecting his personal interests had been noted.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . .

I expressed regret to the King that his visit to this country had been marred by confusion over his plans and the accompanying intense aggravation of the conflict between the factions of Rumanian émigreé which might have been avoided by direct contact between us and his entourage. I explained to him that the reason he was not met in New York by a representative of the Division of Protocol was because of the unofficial character of his visit and the feeling that it would be given a disproportionate political interpretation.

I said that in line with his statement to Mr. Vincent and because of intimations from several sources in touch with his entourage, we had anticipated that his secretary would be getting in touch from [Page 411] New York with the Division of Southern European Affairs and might be coming on ahead to Washington to discuss the King’s plans and wishes with us. I mentioned that we had in fact sent a message through our security officer assigned to him indicating that we would be interested in communicating with his entourage about his plans. The King gave no indication that he had received such a message.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . .

The King asked me whether I thought it would be well for him to seek an opportunity to speak to Mr. Armour about the situation pertaining to the Rumanian émigrés. I told him that if he desired to express his views and wishes in this regard directly to Mr. Armour or to discuss other matters I was confident that Mr. Armour would be glad to see him. He said he understood that Mr. Armour was attending the luncheon to be given for him by Secretary Harriman7 and that he might find occasion to broach the matter at that time.

At this point the Queen Mother came in. After the King had introduced me to her and we had exchanged a few general remarks, he mentioned to her some of the things we had been discussing. She indicated her displeasure over the way in which, especially since their arrival in the United States, various persons were attempting to use Michael for their own advantage. She said “Poor Radescu certainly has had his trouble trying to get the Rumanians together.” She deplored the letter which Davila had written to her lady-in-waiting for the attention of the King (‘a copy of which she understood had been sent to me), remarking that Davila had never been a Minister to Michael and she felt he had no business to raise some of the questions which he did in his letter. I confined myself to indicating, without further discussion, an understanding of how the letter might have affected her.

I repeated to her the regret I had expressed to the King that these unpleasant developments had occurred during their visit here but remarked that fortunately so far as the American public was concerned it was not aware of all this. She agreed and said that she considered it a scandal which ought not be allowed to continue and become publicly known. Having been informed that one of the Americans who met the royal party in New York might have given the impression that the Department was not happy over their visit at this time, I thought it well not let the occasion pass without mentioning our welcome and stated that I had observed a generally warm response of the American public to their visit as reflected in the press. The Queen Mother said she was greatly touched by the cordiality which they had encountered in the United States on all &ides, official and private, even to the friendliness of clerks in the stores and people on the street.

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The Queen Mother inquired about Mr. Schoenfeld8 and his situation in Rumania. The King regretted that they had not had the opportunity to become really acquainted with him before their departure. I informed them of the difficult circumstances which Mr. Schoenfeld now faced and how the circle of his associations was being increasingly circumscribed. They expressed a sympathetic appreciation of his situation.

The King asked me if I thought that war was in the offing. I told him that developments in recent weeks and those immediately in prospect had caused an increased concern which he would have observed in statements of the President and Secretary. The Queen Mother indicated her serious doubt that a peaceful solution was possible. She inquired particularly about our views of the Italian situation to which I responded only in a most general way, making the excuse that I did not follow at first hand the concerns of the Italian desk.

The Queen Mother said that Premier Groza had advised her before their departure from Rumania to warn her brother to leave Greece promptly while he had the opportunity.

Michael spoke of great numbers of the Rumanian population who would join a resistance movement within the country at an appropriate time. Many of these, he said, have gone into hiding especially in the mountains, but they lack any effective organization or cohesion. He doubted that General Radescu had very substantial contact with them.

At the conclusion of the conversation, I told the King and Queen Mother that if they had any further wishes concerning their schedule of activities which we could assist in satisfying through official channels, I would be glad to facilitate the arrangements.

  1. Iuliu Maniu, leader of the Romanian National Peasant Party, who was tried and convicted in November 1947 of crimes against the Romanian state. For documentation regarding the arrest and trial of Maniu, see Foreign Relations, 1947, vol. iv, pp. 493510, passim.
  2. Presumably the reference here is to Frank G. Wisner, Special Assistant to the Assistant Secretary of State for Occupied Areas.
  3. King Michael married Princess Anne of Denmark in June 1948.
  4. General Nicholas Rádescu, Romanian Prime Minister, November 1945–February 1946.
  5. John Carter Vincent, Minister in Switzerland.
  6. Alexander Cretzianu, former Romanian Minister to Turkey; Grigore Niculescu-Buzesti, former Romanian Foreign Minister; Constantin Visoianu, former Romanian Foreign Minister.
  7. W. Averell Harriman, Secretary of Commerce.
  8. Rudolf E. Schoenfeld, Minister in Romania.