740.00119 EW/8–444: Telegram

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

3290. ReEmbs 3179, August 26, 9 [7] p.m. I have received this morning from Molotov a note dated September 3 which reads in paraphrase translation as follows:

I wish to inform you, in connection with the statement I made to you on August 26 concerning Finland, that the Soviet Minister in Sweden, Kollontay, transmitted to Mr. Gripenberg on August 29 the Soviet reply which was agreed to by the British Government and was received without comment by the United States Government. This reply was in answer to the statement dated August 25, of the Finnish Government in which the Finnish Government requested that a Finnish delegation be received in Moscow to negotiate an armistice or peace. Mr. Gripenberg transmitted to Madame Kollontay on September 2 the following appeal made by Mr. Mannerheim to the Soviet Government:

“In order to make sure that Finland can in fact carry out what it promises, the President and Commander in Chief of the Finnish Republic begs, before transmitting a final answer to the preliminary terms of the Soviet Union, to present the following statements and questions: Finland is able, under certain [Page 616] conditions, itself to control or to effectuate the voluntary evacuation or internment of the German troops on that part of the Finnish mainland which lies south of the general line Oulunioki–Ouluniarvi71–Sotkamo water system, and canals Olok after the protection of that district from possible attack from the sea or from the north of the above indicated line.

This obligation which will require of Finland very considerable forces can only be carried out on condition that hostilities on the Eastern Front from the Finnish Gulf at least right up to the height (district) of Miinoa cease, let us say, on September 3 at 8 a.m. and that the cessation of hostilities be maintained right up to the completion of the negotiations on an armistice or peace. The retirement of the Finnish forces behind the frontier agreed upon in the Moscow peace treaty of 194072 will commence on September 1 on the entire above mentioned sector.

The President and Commander in Chief of the Republic further proposes that the Soviet Army, in order to avoid any incidents, should commence their movement forward from the present line of the front only on September 11. The Commander in Chief in that case is prepared to guarantee that the last Finnish military units will be withdrawn behind the Moscow Treaty border by September 20 in this entire sector. He feels that Finland on its part will be able to fulfill its obligations in accordance with the preliminary terms of the Soviet Government provided that his proposals are accepted. He requests an answer to these proposals.[”]

In transmitting Mr. Mannerheim’s appeal, Gripenberg added that the Finnish Government would make the statement demanded by the Soviet Government concerning the rupture with Germany after the receipt of a reply from the Soviet Government to the Finnish proposals. Gripenberg declared at the same time that the Finns were prepared also to participate in the proposed disarmament of the German troops in the northern part of Finland but they would like to reach an agreement in Moscow with the Soviet Command on the coordination and assistance in this respect of the Soviet Union.

The Soviet Government instructed Minister Kollontay on September 3 to transmit to Gripenberg the following reply of the Soviet Government to the Finnish Government:

  • “1. The Soviet Government insists on the Finnish acceptance of the preliminary conditions which the Soviet Government advanced on August 29, namely, that it should be publicly declared by Finland that it would break off relations with Germany73 and would demand the evacuation of German troops from Finnish territory no later than September 15; in the event that German forces should not be withdrawn from Finland in that period, the German forces would be disarmed and turned over to the Allies as war prisoners.
  • 2. In case Germany should not evacuate its troops from Finland by September 15, the Soviet [Union] agrees to render assistance to the Finnish Army in disarming the German Armed Forces and in turning them over to the Allies as prisoners of war.
  • 3. The Soviet Government agrees to cease hostilities at 8 a.m. on September 4 on the sector of the front south of the height (district) Miinoa if the Finnish [Page 617] Government fulfills the Soviet preliminary conditions in accordance with point 1 of the present Soviet statement, whereas all other questions shall be settled during the armistice negotiations.”

As you see, this reply of the Soviet Government fully conforms with its former statement to the Finnish Government in connection with which the United States Government stated that it had no comments whatsoever to make.

I express in advance my appreciation for your kindness in transmitting the above to the attention of the United States Government. End of message.

Sent to the Department, to London as No. 160 and to Stockholm.

  1. Intended were the Oulujoki and Oulujarvi water systems leading to the Sotkamo River in central Finland, which form a continuous waterway and a natural defensive position.
  2. The Treaty of Moscow of March 12, 1940, between the Soviet Union and Finland, is printed in Finland, Ministry for Foreign Affairs, The Finnish Blue Book (Philadelphia–New York, 1940), p. 115; in the Department of State Bulletin, April 27, 1940, p. 453; and in U.S.S.R., Sbornik deystvuyushchikh dogovorov, soglasheniy i konventsiy, zaklyuchennykh s inostrannymi gosudarstvami (Moscow, 1955), vol. x, p. 11.
  3. The Finnish Government had already broken relations with Germany on the evening of September 2 and had informed German Minister Wipert von Blücher of the rupture. The Swedish press on September 4 reported the departure from Berlin of the Finnish Minister and Legation staff there, on request of the German Government.