758.62/199: Telegram

The Ambassador in the Soviet Union ( Steinhardt ) to the Secretary of State

758. The Swedish Minister told me this morning that the Soviet Government has now refused his request for a Consulate at Leningrad, having previously refused requests for Consulates at Riga and Vladivostok. He also said that the Soviet Government has refused a German request for a Consulate at Riga and that in consequence the German Government had requested the Soviet Government to close its Consulate General in Oslo.

The Minister also said that the German Ambassador had recently complained to him that his direct contact with Hitler had been abruptly cut off by “a small clique” which has taken “almost physical possession of Hitler” and will allow no one near him. He said the clique consists of Von Ribbentrop,54 Goering,55 Himmler,56 Hess,57 and “several generals”. The Ambassador also said that he was “disturbed” by the rumors of a German attack on the Soviet Union as he is opposed to such a course which he believes would not be in the interest of Germany especially in view of the “disturbance to Germany’s agricultural assets in the Balkans”. Von Schulenburg said that as soon as Matsuoka58 leaves Moscow he will go to Berlin and insist on seeing Hitler personally, although he is doubtful that he will succeed in doing so.

Assarsson also told me that the German Minister in Stockholm59 had in a recent conversation with the Swedish Minister for Foreign Affairs60 made what he described as “an attack” on Swedish policy, claiming that Sweden is completely under American and British influence and that the Swedish press is “too hostile” to Germany and insisting that steps be taken by the Swedish Government “to correct the situation”.

Assarsson added that since the Swedish rejection of the German demand to transit troops across Sweden there has been a relaxation of German pressure but his Government has little doubt that it will be resumed. In this connection he said this Government is seriously [Page 139] disturbed by the extent to which Finland is falling under German influence61 and that it had recently requested assurances from the Finnish Government that in the event Sweden becomes involved in war with Germany it need not fear that Finland would become a German base.

Inasmuch as it has been understood that the German Ambassador is not in favor of a German attack on the Soviet Union, the statement that he has been recently denied communication with Hitler may lend weight to the persistent rumors that an attack on the Soviet Union is contemplated by certain elements in Germany.

Steinhardt
  1. Joachim von Ribbentrop, Reich Foreign Minister.
  2. Field Marshal Hermann Wilhelm Göring, Reich Minister for Air, Commander in Chief of the Luftwaffe, Chairman of the War Cabinet, and nominated successor-designate to Adolf Hitler, September 1, 1939.
  3. Heinrich Himmler, Commander in Chief of the Schutzstaffel (Nazi Black Guards, or Body Guards); Chief of the German Police with the rank of State Secretary in the Ministry of the Interior.
  4. Rudolph Hess, Chairman of the Central Committee of the National Socialist Party; Deputy of Adolf Hitler.
  5. Yosuke Matsuoka, Japanese Minister for Foreign Affairs. Concerning his visit to Moscow and Berlin during March and April, see vol. iv , index.
  6. Viktor, Prince of Wied.
  7. Christian Günther.
  8. For correspondence on the relations of Finland with the Soviet Union and Germany, see pp. 1 ff.