740.00119 European War 1939/2111: Telegram

The Minister in Sweden (Johnson) to the Secretary of State

345. Madame Kollontay19 having expressed a desire to meet McClintock, he called on her yesterday on my instruction.

Madame Kollontay opened conversation by inquiring if Finns were ready to make peace with USSR. When asked what terms of peace her Government had in mind she at first said Finns would receive unconditional surrender along lines of Four Power Declaration at Moscow20 but later expressed hope that despite their many stupidities they would have perspicacity to conclude a separate peace with Russia before this disastrous event.

She asked specifically “why don’t the Finns send a man to Moscow now[?”]

McClintock recalled that principal stumbling block from Finnish point of view on receiving our tender of good offices of March 20, 1943,21 was an alleged ignorance of agenda for any proposed peace negotiation. He felt accordingly that prior to sending a delegate to Moscow, Finnish Government would wish to know what terms Russian Government had in mind.

Madame Kollontay said that she thought Finnish “gesture of good will” in sending a representative to Moscow would of itself be sufficient to insure reasonable Russian terms; although at no time did she seem to feel that conditions more favorable than those of treaty of Moscow of March 12, 1940, would even be considered by her Government, with exception of Hango. On question of Hango she said “It is better to say nothing at all”. McClintock had definite impression that Madame Kollontay’s view of possible peace terms would be Karelian frontier of 1940 but with Hango remaining in Finnish hands.

Madame Kollontay said that she had in past discussed this general question with British and American Ministers as well as with Foreign Minister Gunther (Legation’s 3977, December 8, 7 p.m.22). She [Page 562] said in response to inquiry that she was not speaking under instructions from her Government but that she was anxious to wind up Finnish question because it was of utmost importance to Allied cause and to Sweden that Finnish war be ended as otherwise Russian High Command would most certainly apply terms of unconditional surrender to Finland with consequent unpleasant results so far as Sweden and Scandinavian opinion were concerned. She deprecated Swedish Foreign Minister’s cautious policy and refusal to be of assistance in getting Finland out of its war.

Madame Kollontay expressed hope that, if there was any possibility of Finns being willing to send a negotiator to Moscow at this time, it might be possible to make use of informal services of American Government in approaching them. She said, however, at a later point in conversation that she had certain sources of her own seeking to establish contact in Finland.

(See Helsinki’s 70, January 9 [29] 6 p.m. and Legation’s 312, January 31, 4 p.m.23)

She stressed throughout conversation that venue of talks must be Moscow.

Soviet Minister questioned McClintock closely as to attitude of various Finnish leaders and he replied briefly citing Ryti’s policy as stated to him January 2 [20] that it was best for Finland to wait until end of general hostilities before seeking peace, as contrasted with Ramsey’s statement to him on January 24,24 that Finland would probably have to accept terms not better than those of Winter War. McClintock told Madame Kollontay he thought Marshal Mannerheim25 was convinced of disastrous military position but that professional officers corps in Finland would probably resist a peace move at this time.

McClintock had impression that Madame Kollontay was genuinely serious in exploring possibilities of a separate peace on basis of a direct Finnish approach to Moscow and in Moscow and that, despite her disavowal of instructions, she had probably been given carte blanche to explore this problem and would shortly formulate recommendations to her Government.

  1. Alexandra Mikhailovna Kollontay, Soviet Minister in Sweden.
  2. Declaration of Four Nations on General Security, released November 1, 1943, upon the conclusion of the Moscow Conference of Foreign Ministers; for text, see Foreign Relations, 1943, vol. i, p. 755.
  3. See telegram 43, of March 19, 1943, 6 p.m., to Helsinki, ibid., 1943, vol. iii, p. 250.
  4. Not printed, but see telegram 1332, December 7, 1943, 8 p.m., to Stockholm, ibid., p. 310.
  5. These telegrams reported rumors and hopes about a possible Finnish peace move in the near future (740.00119EW39/2104, 2106).
  6. This statement was reported in telegram 58, January 24, 1944, from Helsinki, not printed.
  7. Karl Gustav, Baron Mannerheim, Marshal and Commander in Chief of the Finnish Defense Forces.