740.00119 EW/8–2644: Telegram

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

3179. For the President and the Secretary. Molotov62 called the British Ambassador and myself over this evening to consult the British Ambassador and inform me as representing our respective Governments of developments in regard to Finland. Madame Kollontay had been approached in Stockholm by Gripenberg with a letter from the Finnish Foreign Minister63 asking whether the Soviet Government would receive representatives of the Finnish Government in Moscow to discuss a peace or armistice. In addition Gripenberg told Madame Kollontay that he had been instructed to inform her that Mannerheim had declared to Keitel64 that he did not feel himself [Page 612] bound by the agreement65 which Ryti had concluded with Germany. The Soviet Government proposed to make the following reply:

“On August 25 the Soviet Government received the statement of the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Finland, Karl Enkel, and the note verbale of the Finnish Minister in Stockholm. Gripenberg requested that a delegation of the Finnish Government be received in Moscow to negotiate an armistice or a peace.

The delegation of the Finnish Government can be received by the Soviet Government only in case the Finnish Government accepts the following preliminary terms: It must be publicly declared by the Finnish Government that it will break off relations with Germany; that it will demand that Germany evacuate its troops from Finland during a period of 2 weeks from the day of the acceptance of the present proposal of the Soviet Government by the Finnish Government and in any case no later than September 15, 1944 and that if Germany does not evacuate its troops from Finland within the period named, the German troops will be disarmed and handed over as prisoners of war to the Allies.

If these preliminary terms are fulfilled by the Finnish Government, the Soviet Government will be prepared to receive a delegation of the Finnish Government in Moscow in order to carry on negotiations for either or both a peace and an armistice.”66

Molotov said he had no more information.

He explained that the above were the Soviet Government’s preliminary conditions and that the remaining terms would be negotiated in Moscow. He agreed to discuss promptly with the British Government through Clark Kerr the armistice terms including the British proposals to be presented to the Finns.

Before leaving the subject, he asked me whether I had any comment to make. In reply to my question, he expressed the belief that the Finns could disarm the Germans without the aid of the Red Army.

Are there any comments you wish me to make?

  1. Vyacheslav Mihailovich Molotov, People’s Commissar for Foreign Affairs of the Soviet Union.
  2. Carl J. Enckell, who had replaced Dr. C. Henrik Ramsay as Finnish Minister for Foreign Affairs on August 8, 1944, when a new Finnish Cabinet under Prime Minister Antti (Anders) V. Hackzell took office.
  3. Field Marshal Wilhelm Keitel, Chief of the Armed Forces High Command of Germany.
  4. The Finnish-German agreement of June 27, 1944; see telegram 514 of June 27, from Helsinki, p. 604.
  5. The Minister in Sweden reported in his telegram 3378 of August 30, that this Soviet reply was delivered to Finnish Minister Gripenberg in Stockholm at 9:30 p.m., August 29, by Madame Kollontay in the presence of her Counselor of Legation, Vladimir Semenovich Semenov, at the latter’s villa. On the problem of German forces in Finland, this telegram, presumably based on information received from the Swedes, stated that the Soviet reply specified that “the Allies are prepared to take measures with respect to the German forces within Finnish territory” in order to disarm and intern them as prisoners of war if those forces do not withdraw from Finland within the time limit of September 15. (740.00119 E.W./8–3044) In a subsequent telegram, No. 3424 of September 1, the American Minister corrected this statement by reporting that the Soviet reply did not use the term “Allies” in that context; but he also reported that Gripenberg insisted that the term was so used by the Soviet representative in transmitting the reply to him on August 29 (740.00119 EW/9–144).