Manuscripts/Mixed Material Interview with George L. West
He got off, but it took me a hell of a time to find the ideal conditions. In this flight, it was a larger transport, which went way north on dark nights.
I was told that after the San Francisco conference I would be assigned to our mission next to the Netherlands government in London.
Stanley Hornbeck was the so-called Ambassador at that time. When I'd first gone through London on my way to Sweden, Rudy Schoenfeld (the brother of the guy who was in Finland) was the number two to Biddle (our Ambassador to these other countries, to the exiled governments).
I was told I'd be going to the Hague, to that or to the Hague, depending on whether the war was over or not.
Well, I thought it only proper, going through London, to call on Mr. Hornbeck, who was the Ambassador accredited to the Netherlands government in exile.
Of course, the department in its usual inimitable way, had not notified Mr. Hornbeck that they were sending me. He resented that. “Well, what do you think you can do?” He was an old curmudgeon; he was notorious.
I did as well as I could. Went up to Prestwich. Oddly enough, there were a number of other diplomats from other countries that were heading for the U.N.
One of them was the Foreign Minister of Luxembourg, Joseph Besh, and his aide. There was one bedroom left. Bech, his aide, and I had to share it (which is sometimes cited as the reason I was subsequently assigned to Luxembourg — it wasn't true!).
I went out to San Francisco, which was my home anyway. There were lots of relatively junior officers who were assigned to the Secretariat, which was being run by the Americans, the guy named Hiss, if you remember.
Q: Alger Hiss.
WEST: Part of our duties were to act as liaison with the foreign delegations. I was assigned (quite logically considering my future) to the Netherlands delegation and to the Norwegians, having served in Danish and Swedish posts. Later on, the Danes came in. They were not in at the very beginning because they were not the belligerents. During the course of the conference, which was the best conference I've ever attended, I got word that Mr. Hornbeck really didn't want me, so I was assigned to Washington.