858.79661/10–944: Telegram

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

2112. In view of the multiple nature of our air problems with Sweden, the Department feels that it might be helpful to recapitulate.

Most immediate, of course, is the question of release of interned American airmen.45 This is going forward with reasonable satisfaction, the Swedes having allowed for the advance release of a certain number of these airmen as a credit against expected German internees seeking to escape from Finland. In this connection, Department does not feel that there is any need for a gesture of good will and appreciation, more particularly since an offer of certain fighter aircraft has already been made to the Swedes.

With regard to Swedish permission on prisoner-of-war air mail service, this is a humanitarian gesture on Sweden’s part and as such should be allowed to rest on its own merits without anyone making a return. (Reurtel 4098, Oct. 9, 8 p.m.46)

The principal reason for the existing operation of the Air Transport Service has now almost been concluded. A continuation of the Service is not desirable since it is much too restricted for the needs of the Army Air Forces. It is considered, however, that a military air service into, through and away from Sweden, to be operated by the Air Transport Command, openly and without subterfuge, is of vital importance in supporting our European occupation forces following the end of hostilities on the Continent. You are therefore instructed to approach the Swedish authorities to permit the Air Transport Command, not only to operate into, through and away from Sweden from any point, which may be militarily desirable and feasible, but also to establish such facilities in Sweden as may be necessary for the efficient and safe conduct of such operations.

In your conversations with the Swedish authorities you should make it clear that this is a purely military service, has no connection with civil aviation, and therefore no question of commercial reciprocity is involved.

It has been the Department’s policy carefully to refrain from providing any definite quid pro quo for permission to operate air service (aside from reciprocity, which is not here involved). That does not [Page 684] mean, however, that in return for Swedish favors this Government would not be prepared to give sympathetic consideration to certain reasonable requests of the Swedish Government.

The Department is disposed to recommend the release of certain interned Flying Fortresses to the Swedes for conversion to their civilian needs, such allocation to be made on same basis as previous. The Department is not prepared to recommend the allocation of commercial types, such as C–47’s, to Sweden at this time. For the strictly confidential information of the Minister, the Department does not wish to build up the commercial air power of a neutral nation, such as Sweden, to a point where, at the close of the war, the neutral commercial airlines will have a distinct edge over the airlines of those nations who have been our active allies, unless some important advantage, should thereby accrue to U.S. interests. The allocation of military types of planes will accomplish the immediate desires of the Swedes, but will not give them any preferred advantage when it comes to post-war commercial operations, since the converted Fortresses will not be able to compete successfully with commercial types.

In reconsidering the question of the possibility of the Swedes reestablishing service to Moscow, the Department has come to the conclusion that as this cannot be prevented the question is really academic. While permission might be refused to use planes which we have made available to the Swedes, they have other planes over which we have no control.

If the Swedes grant permission to the Air Transport Command to operate into, through, and away from Sweden, then all that will be necessary for military operations to Moscow will be the Soviet permission.

  1. See pp. 689 ff.
  2. Not printed.