Memorandum by the Director of the Office of European Affairs (Hickerson) to the Under Secretary of State (Lovett)

Subject: Possible Appointment of New Latvian Minister


The Latvian Minister, Dr. Alfred Bilmanis, who had represented the independent Latvian Government in Washington for approximately 13 years, died on July 28, 1948.

Just prior to the invasion of Latvia by the Soviet Union in 1940, the Latvian Government issued extraordinary powers to its minister in London, Mr. Charles Zarine, by which he was delegated to carry out certain political and administrative functions normally executed by the Chief of State and Cabinet of Ministers. It is understood that Mr. Zarine is now considering the appointment of a successor to Dr. Bilmanis who will be selected from among former Latvian diplomats now residing in unofficial or semi-official capacity in Europe. Meanwhile, Mr. Anatol Dinbergs, Attaché of the Latvian Legation, is acting as Chargé d’Affaires. Mr. Zarine has informally asked the American Embassy in London for our views on the problem of Latvian representation in the United States.

The extraordinary powers given to Minister Zarine, issued at Riga on May 18, 1940, give him the right inter alia: [Page 431]

to defend to his best ability Latvia’s interest in all countries,
for this purpose to give binding orders to all Latvian missions,
to control all funds and moveable and immoveable property at the disposal of certain missions,
temporarily (presumably until the re-establishment of an independent Latvian Government) to recall envoys from their posts and to discharge and transfer all other employees of the said missions,
to liquidate missions with the exception of the Legation in the United States of America.

Although the above powers may be interpreted as giving to Mr. Zarine the authority to appoint a successor to Dr. Bilmanis, the powers do not appear to be broad enough to warrant the appointment of an envoy extraordinary and minister plenipotentiary. In any event such an appointment would not be in accordance with Latvian law which provides that a minister be appointed by the head of the state with the advice and consent of the Latvian Senate. The lack of a Latvian government-in-exile would preclude issuance of the necessary letters of credence to a minister-appointee.

This Government has refused to recognize the incorporation of the Baltic States into the Soviet Union, and its policy is to continue to accord recognition to the duly accredited representatives of the former independent Baltic Governments. For the purpose of assisting the Baltic missions to maintain their establishments in this hemisphere, the Department for some years has arranged with the Treasury to unblock Baltic Government funds on an annual basis for this purpose.


It is our policy to continue to accord recognition to representatives of the independent Baltic States in this country. It is recommended, therefore, that the Department raise no objections in principle to the appointment by Minister Zarine of a successor to Dr. Bilmanis but that our Embassy in London be instructed to suggest to Minister Zarine that the official rank of the appointee be limited to that of a Chargé d’Affaires.1

  1. The recommendation was approved by Under Secretary Lovett. Instructions along the lines recommended here were sent to the Embassy in London in instruction 412, October 5, 1948, not printed (701.60P11/10–548).