740.00112 European War 1939/10–444: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Ambassador in the United Kingdom (Winant)

8146. Department notes with satisfaction that if Military do not oppose possible Swedish action closing remaining ports to Germany, the Foreign Office would not find it difficult to go along with the démarche proposed in the Department’s 7927, September 28, midnight. However, in view of expiration of SKF Agreement on October 12, the Department believes that it is imperative to make an immediate joint démarche to the Swedish Foreign Minister along the lines of the following. Such action would be without prejudice to any subsequent action which might be taken as the result of the military decision, when received.

They should inform Mr. Günther that the American and British Governments have noted with satisfaction the decision of the Swedish Government to close the Baltic ports to German shipping. The two Governments regret, however, that products essential to the German war effort may still be obtained from Sweden by the Germans. The American and British Governments therefore strongly urge the Swedish Government to bring about the immediate cessation of exports to Germany of those commodities of particular value to German war effort including iron ore, rubric 405, 406, 407; charcoal pig iron, rubric 1330; special steels, rubric 1371–1372:2; bearings, rubric 1527–1529; machine tools, rubric 1695–1700; and cold rolled steel, rubric 1381–1386, 1388–1394. The Swedish Government is urged, furthermore, to make what will amount only at the most to token shipments of other exports to Germany. They should add that action along these lines would redound to Sweden’s advantage in Allied eyes, indicating as it would the desire of Sweden to prevent by every means in its power, the prolongation of the war in Europe.

To offset the hardships occasioned Sweden through its inability to acquire German products, in the event of German retaliation the American and British Governments would, in the event of a favorable reply, give sympathetic consideration to Sweden’s essential needs insofar as the supply situation permits. Our Minister should also impress upon Mr. Günther that, before giving a negative reply, the Swedish Government should give every consideration to the fact that for a considerable period after the collapse of Germany, Sweden will [Page 643] be dependent, upon Allied consent for imports from sources under our control, including Germany, and to the possibility that it might be necessary to take direct action against the Swedish companies engaged in exporting goods to Germany.

Please discuss the above proposal with the British at once and telegraph urgently whether they are in agreement with us on taking the foregoing action at once. If the British agree, the Soviet Government will, when this action is decided upon, be informed through the British and American Ambassadors at Moscow and invited to lend its support to the joint Anglo-American démarche. Delivery of latter, however, need not necessarily be delayed pending Soviet concurrence.

Please telegraph urgently to Washington and to Stockholm whether British agree with us.

The above telegram is sent to London for action and Stockholm for its information but not for action unless and until it is informed by Embassy, London, that appropriate instructions have been sent to British Minister at Stockholm to join in proposed démarche.

Since foregoing was drafted, London’s 8355, October 4,84 has been received. Urgent consideration is being given it, and separate reply will be made. Department is of opinion action described above is not affected and attaches greatest importance to securing promptly British concurrence.

Sent to London, repeated to Stockholm.

  1. Not printed.