760D.61/951: Telegram

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

18. See telegram No. 327, December 28, from Legation at Stockholm.13 The Minister for Foreign Affairs14 confirmed to me this [Page 273] afternoon that according to his information there was divergence of opinion regarding Finnish question between partisans of Ribbentrop15 and those of Goering16 in Germany, the latter favoring continuing Swedish assistance to the Finns and other facilities for Finland. At present latter policy was in the ascendant and had been exemplified today by advice that German merchant ships had been authorized to resume traffic to Finnish ports from which they had been excluded presumably by order of German Government since announcement of Russian naval blockade last month. Tanner’s explanation of the improvement in the German attitude was the military success of the Finnish Army as it had apparently been thought in Germany that this country would be quickly overrun by the Russians.

Minister for Foreign Affairs said that without wishing to anticipate what the Prime Minister might have to say to me at our next meeting he hoped that as soon as time is deemed opportune effort would be made to work out a method of ending the war with Russia. Finnish Government he said was perhaps not the best judge of timeliness of possible mediation but from his personal knowledge of Stalin17 he believed that if German cooperation could also be enlisted by the United States with a view to bringing about a settlement present skepticism regarding success of such action might prove unjustified, Stalin’s “toughness” of character and recent loss of prestige by the Russian Army notwithstanding.

Tanner referred to the position of Finland placed between the cross-currents and mutual suspicions of the belligerent powers who were inclined to use that position for their own purposes. This caused confusion here and made it hard to see how to proceed in ending the war. However he also spoke of the possibility of the war going on for another year or even two and I gathered that the disconcerting effect of the complicated state of facts on the political side was not weakening the resolution of the Finnish Government in military resistance.

The Minister expressed great appreciation of your readiness to consider concrete proposals which might be made by the Finnish Government to expedite conclusion of peace. He seems to look to you to be alert for the propitious moment to this end.

Schoenfeld
  1. Not printed.
  2. Väinö A. Tanner.
  3. Joachim von Ribbentrop, Reich Foreign Minister
  4. Hermann Wilhelm Goring, Field Marshal, President of the Reichstag; Prime Minister of Prussia; Reich Minister for Air.
  5. Iosif Vissarionovich Stalin, Secretary General of the Central Committee of the All-Union Communist Party (Bolsheviks); member of the Politburo and Orgburo of the Party.