840.48 Refugees/5016: Telegram

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

561. In accordance with your 381 of January 15,14 the Swedish Minister in London was received by Lord Selborne15 yesterday in the presence of Adams,16 and handed the following joint letter:

“Ministry of Economic Warfare,
London, 19th January 1944.

Dear Minister, His Majesty’s Government and the United States Government greatly admire the willingness displayed by the Swedish Government to receive refugees from German-occupied Europe. They take note with appreciation of the communication recently made to the Chairman of the Intergovernmental Committee on Refugees to the effect that the Swedish Government is willing to afford asylum to a substantial number of children evacuated from occupied territories and of Jewish children from Germany or occupied territories. They fully realize that these schemes would already have come into operation had not the consent of the German Government and the Quisling Government in Norway17 been withheld.

His Majesty’s Government and the United States Government greatly hope that the Swedish Government will now be prepared to make a fresh approach to the German Government (and, where appropriate, to the Quisling authorities in Norway) offering asylum in Sweden (a) to children from Norway and other occupied countries (b) to Jewish children from Germany and other Axis countries and (c) to other children from Germany and other Axis countries who have been deported from their countries of residence or are in danger of deportation, or whose parents have been deported or are in danger of being deported; and requesting permission for such children to come to Sweden.

Realizing that the reception of a considerable number of children would involve a fresh burden upon Sweden’s economy, His Majesty’s Government and the United States Government would, for their part, be prepared to make appropriate increases in Swedish blockade quotas. They would also give prompt and sympathetic consideration to any request from the Swedish Government for assistance in meeting the requirements of these children.

As regards the carriage of additional supplies, the two governments suggest that an arrangement should be made similar to that which governs the shipment of relief supplies to Greece, namely that both belligerents should permit the departure from the Baltic of a Swedish ship or ships on the understanding that such ships are to be used exclusively for the carriage of relief supplies, and will be allowed to [Page 986] return to the Baltic if for any reason such supplies can no longer be shipped.

As far as His Majesty’s Government and the United States Government are concerned there would be no objection to Norwegian children leaving Norway in rotation and returning to their homes after a stay in Sweden.

Yours sincerely,

Signed Selborne,

Signed Ware Adams”

It was made clear to the Swedish Minister that (a) the method of choosing the children would have to be satisfactory to our Governments, as, for example, by having it under the supervision of some responsible organization such as the Swedish-Norwegian Relief Committee or the Swedish Red Cross, and (b) that if the Germans obstructed this relief plan, we would give full publicity to their action. We considered it wiser to make this last statement orally rather than in writing.

The Norwegian Government was informed of the substance of the letter before the meeting with the Swedish Minister. As the Norwegians intend to make a separate approach to the Swedish Government along similar lines, reference to the Norwegian Government was omitted from the letter.

The Swedish Minister expressed his own sympathy with the proposal for evacuating children and said he would communicate both the text of the letter and his own endorsement to his Government.

He suggested that since Sweden had already placed itself in the vanguard of humanitarian movements in cases like the Oslo students and had already been rebuffed by the Germans, it might be well if the Swedish and Swiss Governments could act in unison in approaching the German Government. Lord Selborne said we would examine this suggestion sympathetically and communicate with him on the subject in the near future. Embassy will report.

Stockholm has been informed.

  1. See footnote 9, p. 982.
  2. British Minister of Economic Warfare.
  3. Ware Adams, Second Secretary of Embassy and Consul.
  4. Maj. Vidkun Quisling, former leader of the Nazi party in Norway, promoted to position of Minister President of the German puppet government which was set up in that state on February 1, 1942.