740.00112 European War 1939/8438: Telegram

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

3338. For Department and Stone, BEW. At second meeting with Swedes, held May 12, Hägglöf commented further on our initial demands and amplified certain of his points numbered 1 to 9 in Embassy’s 3281 of May 12, 5 p.m.

Regarding ceilings he objected to use of 1938 as a base, stating that no logical reason existed for regarding this as normal year. He objected also to applying ceilings to individual rubrics, observing that such a procedure would make Swedish negotiations with Germans impossible and that under these circumstances Sweden would not be able to obtain commodities from enemy Europe. He added that imports from enemy Europe were to our interests. Sweden, he said, was willing to diminish her exports to the Continent but not in relation to 1938 and only through the use of an elastic system (in contrast to the “statistical” formula proposed by us).

In connection with point 8 he observed that as a matter of principle this was a strange request as Sweden’s trade with Argentine was one between two neutrals on opposite sides of the blockade. However, main question from Swedish point of view was how Sweden would obtain her imports from the Argentine. He felt this matter would have to be discussed with the Argentine Government and indicated that the U.S. Government might undertake this. (A separate telegram will be sent to you on the Argentine question.)

Referring to proposed ban on exports of arms and ammunition, Hägglöf stated that exports of arms had been permitted only to Finland, that these exports were small and exceeded arms imports from Finland by about 1,000,000 kronor. He said that in some Swedish circles surprise was felt that Sweden should be treated more severely than Switzerland by our Governments.59

He pointed out that many of the proposed additions to List A were not imported through the blockade, and that, therefore, we had introduced a new principle in this regard. The same observation applied to prohibition of exports of ferro tungsten and ferro vanadium permitted by war trade agreement.

Foot and others made these observations:

If trade with neutrals were not advantageous to Germany, she would not permit it. Accordingly our interest was to restrict such trade.
There was no basis for assumption that Switzerland received better treatment from us in blockade matters than Sweden. While comparisons were difficult, it was pointed out that Switzerland allowed no transits of troops or munitions.
The Rumanian agreement violated ceilings under any interpretation of war trade agreement. Moreover, we were not consulted.

A subcommittee to consist of about nine, under chairmanship of Collins was appointed to discuss certain questions in detail, referring policy questions to a policy committee. Latter committee to consist at present of Foot, Villiers, Canfield, Cumming,60 Hägglöf, Wallenberg. Subjects for subcommittee mainly those relating to basic rations, additions to List A and certain of the other restrictions on exports.

  1. For correspondence concerning the War Trade Agreement between the United States, the United Kingdom, and Switzerland, see pp. 824 ff.
  2. Hugh S. Cumming, Jr., Assistant Chief of the Division of European Affairs, on special mission to London.