740.00112 European War 1939/7603: Telegram

The Chargé in Sweden ( Greene ) to the Secretary of State

109. I saw Söderblom yesterday morning at his house and gave him verbally substance of your 35, January 9, 5 p.m. He seemed much relieved, said he would see Foreign Minister immediately and felt quite confident it would have a very beneficial effect on decision.

Boheman called British Minister and me to his office at half past 12 today. Villiers11 and Söderblom were present. Boheman said that Government had informally decided to let Lionel and Dicto leave Göteborg any time from January 15 on subject to four conditions to be mentioned later in this telegram. He said that a formal decision would be given on January 13 following a meeting of Foreign Affairs Committee of Riksdag which must be consulted by Government on all matters of grave policy. He had no doubt, however, that Foreign Affairs Committee would give its approval to decision of Government. Conditions are:

If German action should discontinue Göteborg traffic in consequence of departure of these two vessels Swedish ships employed in this traffic at time of cessation outside Kaggerak [Skagerrak?] blockade must be at disposal of Swedish Government to be used if and when traffic is resumed. (This was answered informally by my assurance to Söderblom based on Department’s telegram 35.)
Oil quantity allotted Sweden to be 120,000 tons per year instead of 30,000 tons per quarter. Oil cargoes of Saturnus and Sveadrott not to be considered part of 1943 allotment. (Boheman stated that [Page 744] when granted this quota he had not understood that when first quarter was mentioned by Mr. Acheson12 that it meant first quarter of 1943 but first 3 months following his conversation.) This was only clarified when he read memorandum I left with Söderblom following receipt of Department’s 1132, December 19, 4 p.m.13 They now feel that cargoes of two ships should not be considered part of 1943 quota but suggest informally that they be granted 120,000 tons exclusive of Saturnus and Sveadrott beginning January 15, 1943, for a period of 12 months. An annual instead of a quarterly allotment is desired because when ships are lost it is impossible to fill quarterly quota. Even if there were no losses it would take 8 months with available ships to fill annual allotment of 120,000 tons.
Boheman’s declaration in a memorandum submitted in October14 in London to be agreed to as satisfactory basis for further discussions between British and United States and Swedish Governments looking toward a reestablishment of basic rations for Swedish imports. Swedish desiderata to be given favorable and liberal consideration. (This they consider informally agreed to so far as United States is concerned by my talk with Söderblom yesterday and my oral statement based on Department’s 26, January 7, 9 p.m.)
That there will be no objection to replacement of ships lost in Göteborg traffic from ships outside Skagerrak blockade when Swedish Government deems such replacement necessary. (It was pointed out that in past when Göteborg traffic ships have been sunk replacements have been taken alternately from Sweetish waters and from free ships outside blockade. They wish to have assurances that they can continue this same proportion.)

Boheman pointed out that this decision taken as a result of demand of British and American Governments placed Sweden in a situation of grave danger. He mentioned especially to me that candor required him to express his resentment that despite his extensive explanations concerning iron ore shipments while in United States it should still be suggested as in my oral statement based on Department’s 26, January 7, 9 p.m., that withholding of important iron ore supplies from Germany could be used as a weapon by Sweden to enforce German respect for Swedish rights.

He said there will be only very small shipments of iron ore during winter months in any case due to ice in Baltic but even if transportation conditions were normal if iron ore were to be withheld by Sweden it would result in immediate cessation of German coal shipments and as a consequence almost immediate slowing down of Swedish production for her own defense and war economy. Government was nevertheless pleased at attitude shown by Department in anticipating mutually satisfactory agreement on details of trade and other problems to be discussed in London.

Boheman stated that Foreign Minister although he made no promise to do so will very soon tell German Legation of decision of Swedish [Page 745] Government to release ships and he expects worst as a result. Mallet remained with Boheman after conference to discuss certain technical matters concerning preparation of ships for sailing and is telegraphing immediately to his Government four conditions included in this telegram. Both he and Villiers seemed elated and are urging immediate acceptance of conditions by British Government.

Please reply as soon as possible.

Repeated to London.

  1. Gerald Hyde Villiers, of the British Ministry of Economic Warfare.
  2. Dean Acheson, Assistant Secretary of State.
  3. Foreign Relations, 1942, vol. iii, p. 369.
  4. Not found in Department files.