740.00119 European War 1939/2242: Telegram

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

802. My 768, March 6, 8 p.m.60 This afternoon Boheman61 informed me that a revised Finnish reply62 has been received and delivered to Madame Kollontay. This reply in substance is that Finns understand and accept Russian position that if Finland is to have a status of neutrality until end of war, German troops cannot operate or remain in Finland without internment. It points out, however, extreme practical difficulties and complications which this situation presents for Finland and expresses hope that earliest possible opportunity may be given by Russia for discussion of matter. Finns hope if such an opportunity is given to them to make certain observations on the other armistice terms. Boheman says that he views this reply as an implicit acceptance of other armistice terms and an acceptance in principle of Russian demand regarding internment of German troops although this acceptance in principle is not expressly stated. He said that reply was very favorably received by Madame Kollontay but there has not yet been time for any reaction from Moscow. He says that he has urged Madame Kollontay to keep nature of this Finnish reply secret as there is possibility for many a slip before Finland is definitely out of hostilities. I told him substance of Department’s 371, March 7, 8 p.m.,63 which had just arrived. He expressed appreciation for Department’s attitude but said that in view of present favorable developments and extreme sensitivity of Finns at moment, he would prefer that no reference be made by Gullion to our having knowledge of Swedish official views as expressed to Finnish Government. He said that Finns are already in some quarters accusing him of being too closely connected with Allied point of view and that he thinks it wiser for them not to know that he has told me as much as he has. In view of this observation I have taken liberty of telegraphing Gullion the suggestion that he not act on Department’s instruction until he has heard from you further.

Boheman remarked that German troops in Finland are indeed a very serious impediment to realization of present hopes. What German action may be if armistice is made by Finns with Russians is unknown but events could possibly take a turn which would result in fighting in Finland and there would be a sufficient body of Finnish [Page 574] support for the Germans to result in a civil war. He feels that such a development would not be even in Allied interest and the one thing which is worrying him most is an apprehension that Germans may still be in a position to do Finland very serious injury. This point is the one on which all previous endeavors to get Finland out of the war have broken. He expressed opinion that it had not previously been possible for Finland to get out of the war without facing serious German counter-action. He is not absolutely sure that Finland can escape this now.

Johnson
  1. Not printed.
  2. Erik Boheman, Secretary General of the Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs.
  3. See infra.
  4. Not printed; it informed the Minister in Sweden of the Department’s telegram 52, March 7, to Helsinki, p. 571.