701.60D11/672: Telegram

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

474. 1. The dismissal of the Finnish diplomats in Washington came as a dismal shock to the Finns, many of whom found in it an added bitterness to the death struggle in which they are now plunged.

2. The Foreign Minister called me to see him in the morning, after I had received text of Department’s press release34 but before receipt of Department’s 117 of June 16. He had as yet received no wire from Procopé and asked me for confirmation of the news. I told him of contents of Department’s release. Later in the day, I was able to give to a Foreign Office official the more detailed information in Department’s telegram in reference. There was no comment from the Foreign Office men except that they could not imagine what the “inimical [Page 602] activities” of the Finnish diplomats could have been. I did not speculate on these.

3. The news was too late for morning papers of the 17th but afternoon press carried it prominently without comment. It was pointed out in some news stories that diplomatic staffs of USA in Finland and of Finland in America were now brought to numerical equality. Other stories “including a United Press despatch from Washington” pointed out that technically Finland could ask the agrément of a new Minister.

4. Erkko, former Foreign Minister, who called on me apparently after consulting Foreign Office, tried to sound me on latter possibility. I was noncommittal but skeptical. He seemed distressed at our démarche and wondered what we hoped to achieve by it or what point we wished to make with the Finns that was not already clear to them. He said the feeling in Helsinki was bitter and that if our move was intended to weaken Finns’ resistance, the contrary effect might be expected and the suicide temper intensified. He went over USA–Finnish relations since Winter War, referred to similar ideals of America and Finland … The Finnish point of view which Erkko expresses seems to be that we are hitting a man while he is down.

On the other hand, a member of opposition active for peace last March also called on me and said he understood our move but was saddened by it.

5. I believe it very unlikely that there will be any retaliatory action by Finnish Government since symbolic presence of American Legation is probably more important to Finns than ever. I anticipate a tightening up of police control and restrictions already in effect but loosely applied. Since I have been here, and I believe for most of the last year, these measures have been conspicuously relaxed in favor of this Legation. For instance, I have sometimes had to insist on applying for required travel permits as a question of principle. In this connection Ramsay asked me if the protection accorded to Finnish diplomats according to news from Washington meant a further curtailment of their movements. I would be pleased to have any information on this point.

6. Some weeks ago when Britain announced its restriction on diplomatic correspondence, I was discussing this with Ramsay and wondered if other countries would retaliate. Foreign Minister said sadly that if there were one thing his experience in last few years had taught him, it was that small nations could not indulge in retaliation. I believe [this?] philosophy will govern him now.

Repeated to Stockholm as my 134 and to London as my 25.

  1. Department of State Bulletin, June 17, 1944, p. 565.