740.00119 European War 1939/2518: Telegram

The Ambassador in the Soviet Union (Harriman) to the Secretary of State

1416. With reference to Vyshinski’s16 statements on the Soviet-Finnish negotiations, published in the Soviet press on April 23,17 to the effect that the most difficult question for the Finnish Government had been the demand to intern or expel the German troops in Finland and to break off relations with Germany rather than the question of reparations, the Swedish Chargé d’Affaires18 has told an officer of the Embassy that these statements do not correspond to the report given to him by Paasikivi when he was in Moscow. Paasikivi had told him that at the first meeting with the Russians, Molotov had asked what the Finnish attitude was toward the proposal to intern the German troops in Finland, to which Paasikivi had replied that if agreement could be reached on the other points he did not think that this particular one would prevent their reaching an agreement. He said the Soviets had been very tough at the first meeting but had later made concessions including that concerning the possibility of expelling rather than interning German troops.

Paasikivi had made it clear to the Swedish Chargé d’Affaires that he considered the Soviet reparation demand the greatest obstacle to Finnish acceptance of the Soviet terms. He said that the Finns had expected a demand of around 200 million dollars but that the Soviet demand of 600 million was equivalent to very near the entire value of Finnish exports for a period of 5 years.

I understand that the British Government, upon learning of the Soviet terms, expressed to the Soviet Government its opinion that the reparations demanded were too high. Although the amount demanded is doubtless very high from the Finnish point of view, the amount is so small when considered in relation to the importance of Finland’s withdrawal from the war that it would seem exceedingly unfortunate if this relatively small amount of money were allowed to determine the important issues at stake. It would be helpful if I could be informed of any view the Department may have formed of this matter.

  1. Andrey Yanuaryevich Vyshinsky, First Assistant People’s Commissar for Foreign Affairs of the Soviet Union.
  2. On April 22 Vyshinsky held a press conference in Moscow and announced the termination of Soviet-Finnish peace talks, recounting the series of diplomatic exchanges which had begun in February and citing seven major Soviet conditions to Finland; see Izvestiya, April 23, 1944, p. 1, or New York Times, April 23, 1944, p. 1.
  3. Ingemar Hägglöf, who was First Secretary of the Swedish Legation.