811.79658/12–2144: Telegram

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

5209. My 5151, December 17, 9 a.m. and 5152, December 17, 10 a.m. Mr. Günther58 brought up with me last night the subject of the Swedish Government’s reply to my note of October 30 requesting permission for ATC to operate in Sweden. Mr. Günther said that he wanted to assure me that the Government had reached an adverse decision for the moment on this important project with the greatest reluctance. He said that they fully realized the importance of the undertaking and likewise the contingent benefits which would accrue to Sweden. The Government felt however that certain of the conditions under which the Air Transport authorities wished to operate this service were politically impossible and he mentioned in particular the request that the service operate its own independent radio station and use code messages. The wearing of military uniforms, while considered undesirable by the Swedish Government, was not so important an objection as the desire of the Air Transport Command to operate certain independent and secret services. He said that the Government’s decision was entirely of a political character; that he and some members of the Cabinet realized that there were no secret ulterior motives behind the request but that there were members of the Cabinet who while not opposed to the project in principle had been genuinely suspicious of our motives because of the insistence on operating an independent secret communications service. The Government on balance of considerations had felt that the present was not a moment when it was politically possible for it to give a favorable reply. He suggested that within a short time, which he stated might be about 2 months, that the project be again submitted to the Swedish Government in a modified form and indicated that there was no disposition on his part or that of the Government to consider present refusal a permanent one.

I recommend to the Department and to the interested authorities of the War Department that the matter be given further consideration in the light of Mr. Günther’s remarks and that the proposals be carefully scrutinized so as to eliminate features which are not strictly essential to its operation and which would obviously be objected to by the Swedish Government on grounds of national policy.

I am now endeavoring to work out with the Foreign Office some practical arrangement which will enable Colonel Balchen,59 the commanding [Page 689] officer of the service in Sweden, to receive more satisfactory weather and other reports. The attitude of the Foreign Office toward some such arrangement is understanding and sympathetic.

As reported in my 5189, December 19, 7 p.m.60 the Foreign Office has voiced no objection to continuance until December 31, 1945 of the AAT’s61 service as at present operated. The assurances given by Grafström and reported in my 5189 were oral but will presumably be confirmed in writing in reply to a note which I sent dated December 18.

Johnson
  1. Christian E. Günther, Swedish Minister for Foreign Affairs.
  2. Since January 27, 1944, representative of the Commanding General, U.S. Strategic Air Forces in Europe, and responsible for the establishment and operation of air service between the United Kingdom and Sweden.
  3. Not printed.
  4. Army Air Transport.