860D.51/483: Telegram

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

77. Through courtesy of Grey of American Red Cross I have been enabled to see copy of note dated February 1 last, from Finnish [Page 15] Minister at Washington to Secretary of Commerce Jones with its enclosures regarding possible further credit to Finland in the amount of $30,000,000.39 I infer that Procopé mentioned this amount, which exceeds that requested by Minister of Supply as reported in my telegram No. 56, February 25, chiefly for purposes of discussion and I note in the local press today that a further credit of 5 millions is reported to have been granted in the last few days by the Export-Import Bank.40

British Minister here41 tells me his Government is somewhat concerned by evidence of increasing rapprochement between Finnish military authorities and the German military including exchange of visits of German and Finnish staff officers while Germans have been supplying large quantities of war materials including much captured French equipment to Finland. British Minister intimates this concern has its effect upon policy of his Government in the matter of granting navicerts for imports into this country.

I desire to record my opinion as repeatedly reported heretofore that the cardinal element of Finnish policy is security as against the Russians; that German assistance in the event of renewed Russian aggression here would be more than welcome to the Finns; that while they hope to receive such assistance the Finns are well aware that it might be granted or withheld depending on German Government’s own conception of its interests at any particular time; that there is no reason to doubt the basic sympathy of the Finnish people with the cause which Britain and ourselves are now defending; but that geographic position of Finland and its pressing needs during present period of isolation from its normal exports markets and sources of its essential imports make it unavoidable to maintain and even to increase trade with Germany while at the same time cultivating German good-will in the political field; and that pending clearing up of military situation in the present war we should expect occasional lapses here from the line of policy most acceptable to Britain and ourselves. Any such possible lapses may be aggravated by the relative inexperience of the Finnish Government in dealing with problems arising out of Finland’s relations with the principal belligerents and ourselves and out of its economic needs. Nevertheless, I still believe that we shall find it to our advantage to continue to keep this country supplied with essentials thereby strengthening its hold on [Page 16] independent life which may become important factor at a later stage of the war.

Schoenfeld
  1. In a letter of February 17, 1941, Mr. Jones wrote to Under Secretary of State Welles that “we do not feel in a position to authorize new Finnish credits at this time.” (860D.51/492)
  2. The Executive Committee of the Export-Import Bank of Washington on March 18, 1941, authorized extension to Finland of a credit of $5,000,000, to be used principally to purchase food commodities over the next 4 or 5 months.
  3. Gordon Vereker.