740.00112 European War 1939/8176: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Ambassador in the United Kingdom (Winant)38

2587. From Stone,39 B.E.W., and State Department for Canfield. Your 2463, April 8, and Stockholm’s 1083, April 6, and 1275, April 20.40 Regarding Swedish transit traffic Department and B.E.W. anxious to take immediate advantage of Boheman’s more amenable position and in so fair as possible meet necessities of Swedish position in this matter. Suggest the following plan for immediate consideration by you and the British:

1. Our Minister in Stockholm in collaboration with his British colleague should attempt at once to obtain an agreement (secret if necessary) from the Swedish Government that all leave traffic and transshipment of munitions of war through Sweden for the enemy will be discontinued, and that there will be no increase in the traffic of goods which are not munitions. Presumably this would result in a ceiling of about 133,000 tons yearly. The agreement would provide that the Swedish Government would be free to choose an appropriate time for taking such action but we would expect that it would be understood that the step will be made in any case within a reasonable period after the happening of either of these events:

failure of Germany to permit the resumption of the Gothenburg traffic by June 1, or
authorization by Germany for the resumption of the Gothenburg traffic.

The period of time which may elapse after the happening of either of the above events need not now be fixed, but it would be understood that if unreasonable delay occurs any Anglo-American commitments regarding basic rations or other trade facilities accorded Sweden may be withdrawn.

If the Swedes make such an agreement now we would inform the Swedes that it would seem unnecessary to include the traffic question in the London negotiations.

2. If you and the British concur in this plan please inform Stockholm, to whom the above suggestion is being repeated, with instructions to act if and when your concurrence is given. If you concur the American Minister in Stockholm will determine in cooperation with his British colleague whether an agreement or declaration of intention, secret if necessary, on the above lines is possible without delay.

If the Swedish answer is in, the negative or if the Swedish Government hesitates to make any commitments at this time we would then [Page 759] have to consider another treatment including, possibly, the inclusion of traffic question in the London negotiations.

We consider it important that you and the British give this matter most immediate attention.

Repeated to Stockholm.

  1. Repeated on the same date to the Minister in Sweden as telegram No. 506.
  2. William T. Stone, Assistant Director in charge of Economic Warfare Analysis, Board of Economic Warfare.
  3. None printed.