740.0011 European War 1939/3286: Telegram

The Chargé in the Soviet Union (Thurston) to the Secretary of State

580. Referring to the Embassy’s telegrams 468, April 27 and 491, May 63 American journalists passing through Moscow en route from Stockholm to Bucharest report that the belief is general in Stockholm that Germany is bringing strong pressure to bear on the Swedish Government to permit the passage of German troops wishing to reach Kiruna and Narvik, and that the reluctance of the Soviet Government to countenance any violation of neutrality of Sweden is the principal deterrent to an immediate German invasion of that country.

In connection with the statements contained in the Embassy’s telegrams under reference concerning a conversation between Molotov and the German Ambassador with respect to Soviet interest in the maintenance of Swedish neutrality, a member of the staff of the German Embassy whose information has hitherto proved to be reliable recently confirmed that in the course of a conversation on other subjects presented by the German Ambassador, Molotov had voiced the hope of his Government that Germany would respect the neutrality of Sweden if possible.4 This informant stressed the phrase “if possible as indicating that the Soviets had made no categorical request that Sweden’s neutrality be observed by Germany.

While there is believed to be no doubt that the Soviets would view with disfavor the expansion of the war zone into Sweden it is by no [Page 554] means certain that a German move in this direction would constitute an immediate threat to Soviet-German relations. On the other hand continued large scale unexplained troop movements reported in telegram No. 564, May 205 and recent extensive curtailment of both interurban and local rail passenger service in European Russia are arousing considerable speculation among foreign observers in Moscow as to the intentions of the Soviet Government. Opinions vary as to whether these activities indicate precautionary measures of a purely defensive character or point to an eventual invasion of Bessarabia or envisage the occupation by the Soviets of the Baltic States6 in the event that hostilities break out in Sweden.

  1. Neither printed.
  2. The Chargé in the Soviet Union informed the Department in his telegram No. 588, May 27, 1 p.m., that the Swedish Minister had told him that Molotov had categorically declared to the German Ambassador that the Soviet Union was “vitally interested in the maintenance of Sweden’s neutrality and would view an invasion of that country as an unfriendly act.” (740.0011 European War 1939/3345)
  3. Ante, p. 465.
  4. For correspondence concerning the occupation of the Baltic States, see pp. 357 ff; concerning the seizure of Bessarabia, pp. 444 ff.