Arthur Nelson Field

The Bretton Woods Plot (1957)

The Bretton Woods Plot (1957) by Arthur Nelson Field

From Chapter One

On May 17, 1944, the Allied Supreme Command in the second world war tentatively fixed June 5 as D-Day for the invasion of Normandy. This was the most important decision of the war and a jealously guarded top secret. Nine days after the decision was taken, and eleven days before the invasion actually began on June 6, New Zealand, in common with many other countries, on May 26 received an invitation from Washington to an international monetary conference to open in the United States on July 1. The conference met at Bretton Woods, New Hampshire, and lasted until July 22. It adopted an agreement constituting an International Monetary Fund and an International Bank. This project had previously been known as the White Plan, after its author, the late Harry Dexter White, then Assistant Secretary of the United States Treasury, and in contradistinction to the Keynes Plan for an International Clearing Union, framed by the late Lord Keynes on behalf of the British Treasury.

When the Bretton Woods Conference met on July 1, 1944, the whole issue of the war was swaying in the balance. When it dispersed on July 22 the Allied armies were still fighting with their backs to the sea, penned in within a few miles of their initial landing points, and the German front was holding solidly. The overwhelming interest of the whole world, including the delegations at Bretton Woods, centred on the titanic struggle going on in Normandy. The one and only thing that mattered was the maximum flow of munitions in to Normandy. A huge part of that flow consisted of American Lend-Lease aid. The nations were comrades in arms fighting side by side. The United States had been most generous. If it wanted a money agreement signed, it was no time for higgling and haggling. Anything dubious or obscure must be left over for revision and clarification when victory was assured.

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