740.00119 EW/8–1444: Telegram

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

3094. Following information given me this afternoon by Mr. Assarsson,54 Acting Secretary General Foreign Office:

[Page 610]

Gripenberg55 returned yesterday from Helsinki. He saw Assarsson last night and informed him that Marshal Mannerheim56 is definitely prepared to seek peace from Russia. Before making initial move however Finnish Government desires assurance (not in writing) from Swedish Government that certain minimum food requirements may be counted upon by Finland from Swedish Government. Principal item is bread grain of which Finland is said to have 2 months’ supply. Finnish industrialist said to be expert in these matters arrived this afternoon by plane from Helsinki with Finnish Government’s list which Assarsson informed me is an extensive one. As soon as arrangements have been completed with Swedish Government for necessary assurances Gripenberg is to return to Helsinki (Assarsson thinks Wednesday or Thursday57 of this week) and will return to Stockholm quickly with instructions to contact Madame Kollontay58 immediately. This Assarsson presumes will be done through the Swedes. Assarsson states that he has impressed on Gripenberg that the Finnish communication to the Russians should be in writing and signed by Marshal Mannerheim.

Finnish request for Swedish guarantee of certain minimum supplies is now before Swedish Government and Assarsson says there is no doubt the Swedes will do everything they possibly can. He said however that Finnish demands are extensive and that it may not be possible for Swedes to guarantee entire amounts of each item requested by Finns. Assarsson says that there is no doubt from Gripenberg’s account that Mannerheim has made up his mind and that peace endeavor will be a genuine one. Finnish Government is afraid to take immediate action without this guarantee from Sweden because supplies still coming in small amounts from Germany will be immediately cut off. Germans it seems have made every [very] generous promises of food supplies to come through the ensuing months. Germans are reported to have made no threat to Mannerheim Government of action to follow a Finnish attempt to secure peace but through indirect channels have made it clear that if Mannerheim takes this step Germans will occupy Åland Islands and ports of Cosa and Bjorneborg. Assarsson seemed convinced from his talk with Gripenberg of genuineness of Finnish intentions but given the Finnish mentality and the many disillusionments the Swedes have already experienced in endeavoring to play the role of intermediary between Russia and Finland he said that he could not avoid feeling some apprehension that [Page 611] Finns may find excuses to delay. Assarsson has been in consultation today with Mr. Gunther59 (who has also seen Gripenberg) with Minister of Commerce60 and Minister of Supply61 and I gather that Swedish Government is proceeding to examine Finnish request with speed. There is no doubt in my mind that Swedes will press the Finns to action to the utmost of their ability and will do everything possible to assist Finland in meeting her immediate food necessities.

Mr. Assarsson also informed me that according to Gripenberg Finland will take action to break relations with Germany as soon as hostilities with Russians have ceased. Swedish Government has information (not from Finnish sources) that German forces in north Finland have already begun to move into Norway.

Mr. Assarsson impressed on me the necessity for utmost secrecy regarding this information which he said is known only to two or three members of the Government. He also requests that for the present it is not [to] be communicated to any of our missions abroad including Moscow. I gave him to understand that it would be for your information only.

  1. Per Vilhelm G. Assarsson.
  2. Georg A. Gripenberg, Finnish Minister to Sweden.
  3. Karl Gustav, Baron Mannerheim, President of Finland from August 4, 1944, succeeding Risto H. Ryti in conformity with a special law passed by the Finnish Diet on August 1. Concurrently Mannerheim served also as Commander in Chief of Finnish Defense Forces.
  4. August 16 or 17.
  5. Alexandra Mikhailovna Kollontay, Soviet Minister in Sweden.
  6. Christian Günther, Swedish Minister for Foreign Affairs.
  7. Herman Eriksson.
  8. Axel Gjöres.