760D.61/1241: Telegram

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

133. I spoke to the Minister for Foreign Affairs this afternoon in the sense of your telegram No. 81, March 7.85 He expressed deep appreciation of your action especially when I pointed out that your démarche at Moscow had doubtless been decided upon before you could have received my telegram No. 132 of yesterday and had therefore not been motivated by his requests of yesterday but was spontaneous.

Tanner told me that the military position was unchanged and that Finnish Government had requested additional British bombing planes which had been promised and which if now available would have made defense of Viborg much easier.

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I mentioned the rumor that Soviet Government had served an ultimatum requiring answer to its demands before tonight and he explained that probable foundation for this story was the fact that the Russians had threatened on February 28 to increase their demands if those then made were not accepted by March 1. At the request of the Finnish Government for more time the Russians had, however, desisted from this requirement.

The negotiations had been conducted throughout with the aid of the Swedish Government and had taken place both through Swedish Legation at Moscow and Soviet Legation at Stockholm. I inquired whether the report was true that former President Svinhufvud86 and Minister Paasikivi were in Stockholm at the present time. Tanner said the former had probably gone to Germany where he is highly regarded, but if so, he had done so without any mission on behalf of the Finnish Government. As for Paasikivi, the Minister for Foreign Affairs told me under the promise of absolute secrecy that he was now in Moscow and in negotiation with Molotov. When I asked his opinion as to the prospect of successful outcome of the negotiations Tanner merely referred to this fact.

I inquired whether the Russians had made any allusion during the current negotiations to the continuance of Tanner himself and of Field Marshal Mannerheim in the Finnish political world and he said they had made no reference to domestic political matters in Finland. Answering my query as to the Soviet view of the relation of the Teri-joki régime to the present situation Tanner said with a smile that much more important personalities than Kuusinen had been liquidated in Russia when deemed expedient.

I also asked Tanner whether the Germans had brought active pressure to bear on Finland recently, and he answered in the negative saying that report just received from Finnish Legation at Berlin regarding Sven Hedin’s latest conversation with Hitler87 had been marked chiefly by the latter’s ranting about Finland’s alleged unfriendliness to Germany which could therefore take no interest in this country. Tanner said that nevertheless Germany had throughout taken a sufficient guarantee. Regarding the Swedes he said their great fear was of an Allied passage through their country and this accounted for their intensive activity to bring about present negotiations.

  1. See footnote 78, p. 300.
  2. Pehr Evind Svinhufvud had been President of Finland between February 16, 1931, and February 15, 1937.
  3. Sven Hedin, Swedish explorer, acquaintance of Hitler. For memorandum of this conversation, March 4, regarding the possibility of German mediation in the Finnish-Soviet war, see Documents on German Foreign Policy, 1918–1945, series D, vol. viii, p. 862.