740.00116 EW/8–3044: Telegram
The Minister in Sweden ( Johnson ) to the Secretary of State
[Received August 31—1:57 a.m.]
3389. This afternoon I saw Foreign Minister Gunther at my request to discuss with him subject matter of Department’s 1688, August 23, 7 p.m.15 Mr. Boheman16 was also present and I went into the matter thoroughly.
Obvious deduction from Mr. Gunther’s immediate reaction is that this question is one which has already received careful study by the Foreign Office and the Swedish Government. Mr. Gunther stated that this question had been on agenda for discussion at Cabinet meeting last Friday but that owing to pressure of other business it had not been reached. He said that it would be taken up at the meeting this Friday and that he personally believed that the Government’s decision would be to issue a declaration that Sweden would not give asylum to war criminals. I found no disposition on the part either of the Foreign Minister or Mr. Boheman to argue the case or any indication that they were not in entire agreement with our views. Mr. Gunther pointed out, however, that Sweden will be presented, particularly in the case of persons coming from Norway, with very real difficulties as hundreds of Norwegians are now able to enter Sweden unobserved, it being impossible to patrol so extensive a frontier. It must be taken for granted that war criminals will likewise take advantage of the same opportunities. It is possible that such an individual might be in Sweden several weeks before he is discovered. Boheman also said that it is probable that some criminal refugees from Germany may [Page 1415] be landed in this country by plane or paraehute unknown to the authorities. In the informal discussion which followed I admitted that it would be impossible to prevent all cases of that kind but that I hoped the Swedish Government would not then in any case accept such a situation as a fait accompli but would take immediate steps to detain the person and said in this connection that the Allies would undoubtedly expect that any such individuals be delivered if required. Such cases would in all probability be criminals of a minor character and not the outstanding Axis leaders or their principal vassals. Of this latter category Mr. Gunther left no doubt in my mind that the Swedish Government will not give them asylum. He is also aware that the problem may arise at any moment and that the policy is therefore one for urgent determination. Mr. Gunther himself said that public opinion in this country not to speak of the Government is entirely hostile to any reception of war criminals and he added that no prominent Axis or quisling who would fall into this category could expect to remain alive for a day if he came to Sweden and attempted to move around in the normal way. Although Mr. Gunther said that he was speaking as I was informally and could not make any official statement until after the Government had made its decision, his reaction and the statements he made were so entirely satisfactory that I have no reasonable doubt that he was expressing a view which has already been determined upon in the Government. I thanked him and said that I was confident that this informal response would be appreciated by my Government. He promised to send for me as soon as the Government has determined its official action. (See my 3312, August 26, 1 p.m.).17