330.11/6–2050: Telegram

The Ambassador in Denmark ( Anderson ) to the Secretary of State


440. In several conversations over weekend Professor Niels Bohr1 stated that he had sent his open letter to UN 2 in hope of making a [Page 76] contribution to world peace. He stressed, however, that his underlying purpose was to strengthen West’s position vis-à-vis East by offering a more positive constructive moral theme. He considered concentration on theme of struggle against Communism was too negative and that world must have some higher aspiration. He believed that his idea, if appropriately developed could furnish a powerful stimulus to peace loving peoples of west and might even produce favorable effects on peoples behind the Curtain. He emphasized that if USSR also accepted, his plan would give greater advantage to West than to USSR since latter presumably is fully informed on atomic and other developments in West while we know very little what is taking place behind the Curtain. He was concerned lest Embassy and Department might not understand spirit in which he had offered suggestion and he was most apprehensive as to possible adverse repercussions on peoples of West should US dismiss or reject his proposal. He believed US had opportunity to make dramatic gesture which could electrify world.

Mrs. Roosevelt had long discussion Sunday with Bohr. She considered his proposals have some merit and plans to discuss same with President and Secretary after her arrival in US.

Embassy is of opinion that Bohr is intensely desirous of making some contribution to relieving tension between East and West; that this desire stems, not only from his own humanitarian instincts and devotion to Western democracies, but also as most Danes believe, from a keen sense of his own responsibility for present impasse as result of his contributions to development of atomic bomb.

  1. Danish theoretical physicist and pioneer in the development of nuclear physics; adviser, Manhattan Engineer District (United States atomic bomb development program), 1943–1945.
  2. For text of the open letter addressed by Professor Bohr to the United Nations, June 9, 1950, see Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, July 1950, pp. 213–217, 219. The communication advocated a system of free exchange of ideas and information among nations. For documentation on Bohr’s proposal for “openness” presented to United States officials in 1948, see Foreign Relations, 1948, vol. i, Part 1, pp. 311 ff.