760d.61/278: Telegram

The Minister in Finland ( Schoenfeld ) to the Secretary of State

252. My telegram No. 244, October 13. It was announced last night that special representative Paasikivi and other members of Finnish delegation are returning to Helsinki and arriving tomorrow. Minister for Foreign Affairs informed me today that while the Russians at yesterday’s meeting had introduced certain new “ideas” they involved no change of substance and Finnish delegation are ready to return here to discuss them in view of difficulty of dealing with such matters by telegraph. He also thought it likely that Minister Paasikivi desired to be at his post in Stockholm during forthcoming meeting of northern chiefs of state.46a

Minister of Foreign Affairs said he had no doubt that your prompt intervention at Moscow prior to the beginning of conversations between Finnish delegation and Soviet authorities had important bearing on apparent moderation of Soviet attitude. He added that he considered the assurance given by Molotov to Ambassador Steinhardt that the Soviet Union had no designs on Finnish independence or integrity a significant commitment inasmuch as it had been given not to Finland but to the United States.

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Erkko told me that local military authorities today reported presence in the Baltic sailing westerly direction of Soviet battleship Marat and substantial escort. Despatch of this squadron might be designed to offer naval demonstration though there had as yet been no mention at Moscow of the Aland Islands. He said that Swedish Government’s attitude which had not been formulated in any communication here would presumably hinge entirely on the course of the Moscow negotiations and I infer he meant by this on the matter of the Aland Islands.

He mentioned with more than a hint of irony that constant expressions from the Germans to the effect that if Finland had accepted non-aggression pact proposed last May47 position of this country would now be better, seemed to overlook the fact that non-aggression pacts of Latvia and Estonia with Germany had not served those countries very well. He felt this the more strongly since he had asked for nothing from the Germans.

The Minister intimated complete awareness of possible application by the Russians to present [conversations?] of the policy of inflating objectives but said smilingly that for the present he was having more difficulty in keeping his own military men who are uninformed under restraint than he expected to have in dealing with the Russians. His general attitude reflected continued quiet resolution, patience and cautious forbearance.

  1. At Stockholm, October 18–19, 1939.
  2. Declined by Finland prior to May 19, 1939.