860D.6359 International Nickel Company/20: Telegram

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

37. Embassy’s 1475, November 3, 1940, 3 p.m.3 The Swedish Minister4 stated this morning that for the moment so far as he was informed Soviet-Finnish political relations appeared to be more or less quiescent. He expressed the opinion that Germany would not be disposed to offer military aid to Finland in the event of a Soviet attack but doubts that the Soviets intend to make such an attack at the present time feeling that they will prefer to endeavor to foment [Page 2] internal discontent in Finland through subterranean channels at an opportune time.

The Minister stated that he understands the present status of the question of the nickel mines near Petsamo to be as follows: the Soviets are now prepared to accept the allocation of 60 percent of the output to Germany and 40 percent to themselves (presumably after allowing Finland a quantity adequate to meet its normal requirements) but that they wish a Soviet-Finnish company formed to exploit the mines, 51 percent of the stock to be Soviet-owned and 49 percent Finnish. The board of directors to consist of three Finnish and three Soviet representatives with a Finnish and Soviet chairman who shall alternate and shall have the deciding vote. He believes that the Soviets would see to it under this arrangement that the Soviet chairman presided at all important meetings. The matter is at an impasse now because the Canadian company which owns and had formerly operated the mines,5 while prepared to sell its interest, will only do so on receipt of assurance that none of the nickel produced will go to Germany.6

Repeated to Helsinki.

  1. Foreign Relations, 1940, vol. i, p. 352.
  2. Per Vilhelm Gustaf Assarsson.
  3. International Nickel Company of Canada, Ltd., with offices at 67 Wall St., New York, N. Y.
  4. Contemporaneous Finnish documents on this subject have been published in the official Blue-White Book of Finland, Finland Reveals Her Secret Documents on Soviet Policy, March 1940–June 1941 (New York, Wilfred Funk, Inc., 1941).