858.9111 RR/9–444: Telegram

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

3469. Swedish and Finnish comment Finland. All Stockholm papers 3d. At secret session Finnish Diet 2d, Finnish Government proposed acceptance Russian terms preliminary to armistice discussions. At 23:00 Finnish time Premier made nation-wide radio address repeating himself in Swedish at 23:40, at which time broadcast was relayed over Swedish radio hookup. In substance Hackzell’s speech follows:

Finnish Diet, which this evening has been convened in secret session, has considered matter of reestablishing peaceful relations with Soviet Union. Problem of peace to which Government throughout early part of year in vain sought solution has again come to forefront because of recent changes in political situation. Government therefore deemed it necessary once more submit matter to Diet for consideration. Since Diet last considered this matter67 there’s been change in Finnish military situation that can only be described as unexpectedly unfavorable and which has made it necessary reconsider situation.

In April this year military situation was favorable. During June, however, Soviet armies broke through on Karelian Isthmus and it was only with tremendous difficulties possible stabilize front on that sector. Because of this break-through it was necessary withdraw Finnish troops also from positions they had occupied for strategic reasons during 1941. But it was not only Finland that’s met with reverses. Germany also has suffered reverses all fronts. It’s ever more obvious Germany must change its tactics; that it must use such forces as are still [at] its disposal for more restricted warfare for defense its home territory. Everyone who’s followed situation in Germany has been able confirm fact that leading circles that country no longer consider military victory possible and are, therefore, endeavoring reach settlement politically. This change [in] Germany’s position brought German-Finnish relations to new phase which cannot be left unnoticed.

German-Finnish relations have been based on realistic considerations. Finland was necessary for Germany in its effort gain control over Arctic Europe and retain its control. As long as Baltic front held maintenance of front in Finland was of prime necessity to Germany and it, therefore, strove support that front. But when this situation changed Finnish front was of less importance to Germany. Meaning [of] this to Finland must be thought about in time.

Finland now approaching stage where it can no longer obtain required aid from Germany but must rely more and more on own resources, significance of which mustn’t be overestimated in comparison with resources of enemy. Our collaboration with Germany ever since 1941 been based on mutual military considerations without political commitments. When Karelian front broke in June and Finland requested more assistance from Germany latter was no longer willing [Page 614] grant it on previous conditions but desired bind Finland with stronger ties than those required by military considerations.

Germany demanded Finland make no separate peace and it refrain even from attempts at reestablishing peaceful relations with Soviet Union. Therefore, when speedy stabilization of front necessary head of government gave required undertaking in own name in consideration of promised military aid from Germany.

It soon evident, however, Germany wasn’t able give military assistance on expected scale. Indeed, Germany had soon begun withdrawing such troops it had provided for assistance Finland. All this strengthened supposition collaboration with Germans was heading toward end and that both parties had to draw appropriate conclusions therefrom.

After presidential change Finnish Government considered situation anew. Agreement made by President Ryti hadn’t been submitted for approval of Diet and was therefore unconstitutional. For this reason pact doesn’t bind new President. This was brought to knowledge of Reich Government some time ago in clear terms.

Therefore, in view of changed political situation, growing desire of Finnish people for peace, and increasingly perilous position Finland, Government considered it its duty once more establish contact with Soviet Union. After thorough preparations written note was submitted to Soviet Minister Stockholm August 25 in which Finnish Government inquired if Soviet Government willing receive Finnish delegation discuss question of armistice, final peace or both.

Present Russian terms more favorable [to] Finland than those last spring in that Finland under them would be able take up negotiations without prior demobilization. After considering Soviet reply Finnish Government reached conclusion negotiations with Soviet Union should be decided upon notwithstanding prior demands set by Soviet Union. Diet now approved this and authorized Government to act.

Honored citizens. Such in brief situation. We’ve taken first step toward reestablishment peace. We’ve taken step on road where unexpected dangers may lurk. We don’t know conditions that will be imposed on us but in as much our great neighbor hasn’t demanded unconditional surrender we’ve deemed it our duty fulfill prior demands set by Soviet Union and its Allies in order evince our sincere desire for peace. Marshal of Finland,68 who has more experience and knowledge of prevailing conditions than others, has chosen road upon which we’ve now tread.

Editorials leading Stockholm papers 3d all deal with foregoing but add nothing new not revealed by Hackzell himself. Tone of editorials ranges from Dagens69 and Morgontidningen’s “I told you so” to Tidningen’s70 more practical suggestion Sweden must now help Finland with food and other supplies.

Afternoon papers 4th. Following communiqué issued by Finnish headquarters this morning:

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“By agreement between Finnish Government and Government of Soviet Union hostilities in Finnish Army’s sector of front shall cease on September 4, 8 o’clock a.m. President and Commander in which [Commander in Chief] has caused order to this effect to be issued to troops.”

Tidningen 4th. Notice with Berlin dateline. It’s confirmed German troops North Finland have for some time been prepared to withdraw. Evacuation now under way and now hastened by events in Finland which in Berlin characterized as suicidal.

Dagens 4th editorializes on Finnish supply situation, pointing out Germans have followed policy of not sending more than installments of any given quantity of promised food. However, Sweden with reserve supply of 400,000 tons grain in position to help Finland. Can also help regarding fats and sugar but not with potatoes, except possibly potato flakes.

Tidningen 4th. Finnish Government has broken relations with Germany and demanded German troops be withdrawn from Finland before September 15. In event German troops not withdrawn within this limit they’ll be disarmed and handed to Allies as prisoners of war.

Idem. Finnish Minister to Berlin, Kivimaeeki, requested leave with Legation personnel.

  1. See telegram 322 of April 12, from Helsinki, p. 591.
  2. President Mannerheim.
  3. Dagens Nyheter.
  4. Probably Aftontidningen; both it and the Morgontidningen were organs of the Finnish Social Democratic Party.