740.00119 European War 1939/2449: Telegram

The Chargé in Finland (Gullion) to the Secretary of State

314. 1. John Scott, Stockholm correspondent of Time and Life yesterday had 4-hour interview with Dr. Paasikivi. We had consulted beforehand and he had agreed to give me report of interview which is summarized below. Scott has agreed with Paasikivi not to publish anything before showing it to him.

2. Although talks were “not pleasant”, Paasikivi and Enckell were well received by Molotov6 and Dekanosov.7 Molotov was personally charming and was confident of Russian victory. The three talks lasted altogether 5½ hours.

3. In last talk Molotov presented as “absolutely final terms” concessions which allowed Finns to retain Hango in exchange for Petsamo; and changed formula about Germans from internment to expulsion. These terms were described by Molotov as basis of final peace, not mere armistice. He claimed furthermore that terms were magnanimous since 1939 talks8 had broken down over Hango. Paasikivi believed Molotov sincerely thought terms were liberal.

4. Paasikivi told Molotov that Finland would never have gotten into 1941 war except possibly on Russian side had Russia not attacked Finland in ’39. Molotov reported to have replied why then did Finns not accept terms in November, a reply which according to Paasikivi indicated abandonment of Russian thesis that Finland attacked Soviet.

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5. Paasikivi twice mentioned Atlantic Charter9 and Molotov declared that Charter was signed in summer of ’41 while Soviet Finnish frontiers were fixed in ’40. Atlantic Charter not meant to be retroactive.

6. Limits set by Russia for evacuation of Karelia and expulsion of Germans were reasonable but were already being approached. Paasikivi felt, however, that Russians would be reasonable on this point and would date time limit from time of final Finnish-Russian agreement if one is reached. He was not optimistic but if Diet on Wednesday10 decided to accept terms as basis of continued negotiations agreement would be reached in a week. Paasikivi would not, however, return to Moscow unless agreement in principle were reached.

7. Indemnity of 600 million dollars was outrageous but Paasikivi thought that there again Russians would negotiate. They knew it would take 50 to 60 divisions to conquer Finland and that bitter Partisan fighting would continue. He told Molotov so but latter was already aware of it. Paasikivi thinks Russians will bargain on points where prestige not involved.

[8.] Russian terms presented to Finnish party groups in fairly unbiased manner. Tanner gave terms to Social Democratic Party but he is of course opposed to peace on any terms except Russian unconditional surrender (jest by Dr.).11 Linkomies and Ramsay also want peace but better terms. Also Mannerheim whom Paasikivi has seen often since return, but he may have trouble with Army.

9. Feared by Paasikivi is that indemnity issue may bring about negative reaction by Diet on all points and Russia will lose patience. In that case Finns could expect some months before offensive starts but no more negotiation.

10. If terms impressed Finns favorably Germans could be got out without difficulty. But if terms insufficiently favorable pro-German minority here might engineer coup. This Paasikivi explained to Molotov. He also dwelt on contribution to world peace and goodwill toward Russians would be made if Russia was not too firm with little Finland and fact that she did not risk prestige by magnanimity to small state. Molotov only shook his head which saddened Paasikivi, and as he explained to Scott caused him to wonder if Russians really wanted peace with Finland or wanted to treat her like Baltic countries.12 He recalled his experience as Minister in Moscow after ’39 [Page 591] when Russians broke agreements in spirit, intervened in Finnish affairs, et cetera.

11. It is said in Moscow that Stalin is seriously ill.

12. Dr. Paasikivi asked Scott why the devil Americans kept urging Finns by radio to accept terms. He understood that we could not take commitments in Finland’s needing support of 4,000,000 soldiers so why then did we interfere as with our broadcasts which assumed some responsibility.

13. He believed the peace already lost and that small nations are going to be cheated after war. In 20 years there will be war between Russia and Anglo-Saxon coalition. Russia won’t be entirely at fault. Their policy to Finland resembles England’s policy with Malaya or Ireland and ours toward Latin America. Perhaps if Finland were a great power it would do the same things but he hoped not.

  1. Vyacheslav Mikhailovich Molotov, People’s Commissar for Foreign Affairs of the Soviet Union.
  2. Vladimir Georgiyevich Dekanozov, Assistant People’s Commissar for Foreign Affairs of the Soviet Union.
  3. For correspondence relating to the Soviet-Finnish negotiations in the fall of 1939, See Foreign Relations, 1939, vol. i, pp. 952 ff.
  4. Joint statement by President Roosevelt and Prime Minister Churchill on August 14, 1941, Foreign Relations, 1941, vol. i, p. 367. The Soviet Union adhered to the Charter on September 24, 1941; see bracketed note, ibid., p. 378.
  5. April 12.
  6. The parenthetical text probably was intended to read, in full, “A jest by Dr. Paasikivi.”
  7. For correspondence on United States interest in the Baltic States and their incorporation into the Soviet Union, see Foreign Relations, 1940, vol. i, pp. 357 ff.