740.0011 European War 1939/5751: Telegram

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

416. My telegram No. 411, September 24.64 Minister of Foreign Affairs informed me this morning that first official proposal to the Finnish Foreign Office on behalf of the German Government regarding desire of the latter to transport troops and material to northern Norway through Finnish territory was received on September 21. It was couched in friendly but definite terms and the Minister said it it had since transpired that German transports had already then left German ports for Finnish ports in the Gulf of Bothnia. Exchange of notes was effected on the evening of September 22 and though lacking in precision the arrangement contemplates transport of only limited numbers of men and quantities of material. Finnish railway equipment would be used between Finnish ports and Ro-vaniemi, whence the Germans would employ their own motor transport and fuel.

The Minister for Foreign Affairs was fully cognizant of the difference between the arrangements made for Russian transport to their leased area at Hango and the facilities granted Germany as a belligerent. He said he expected today to receive a protest from the British Government through its Minister here.65 However unpalatable this state of affairs necessarily was, the Finnish Government was not in a position to oppose the German demand especially in view of [Page 348] the precedent represented by the Swedish-German agreement regarding transit and on manner in which northern Finland is embraced by Soviet territory and German-controlled territory as a glance at the map reveals.

The Minister asked me to make the situation clear to you and to express the hope that the friendly interest of the United States in Finland would not be unfavorably affected by the latest developments. Witting intimated that there were signs of irritation in the Soviet Union over the German-Finnish transit arrangement and he attributed to this irritation the recently renewed publication in the Soviet press of articles critical of alleged conditions in Finland.

  1. Not printed.
  2. Gordon Vereker.