858.79661/11–2144: Telegram

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

4774. For the Department only. Military Air Attaché has sent two cables to War Department following receipt of instructions mentioned in Department’s 2304, November 16, 3 p.m.89 (see my 4756, November 21, 3 p.m.90). He received today a reply in which it was stated that his two telegrams referred to had been communicated to the State Department. War Department’s telegram of today reiterates that approval of the operation to transport the Norwegians will be given only on two conditions: (1) That Swedish consent for this operation is to be construed as approval by the Swedes of our desire hereafter to fly into Sweden on an open military basis; (2) that the Swedes now give their consent to the departure of all our remaining interned fliers on these planes when the Norwegian operation is finished and they are ready to fly back to Great Britain.

My comment on these two points is as follows:

I think it is a mistake of tactics to tie up this special Norwegian operation with the formal request we have made of the Swedes for ATC operations in Sweden91 (Department’s 2282, November 14, 7 p.m.92 and related correspondence). We have reason to believe here that the Swedish response to our request for the general operations will be a favorable one. It is an important decision for this Government to make and it would appear to be in our interest to be patient. An attempt to force the issue by tying up their reply to the more important request with demands in connection with the special Norwegian [Page 702] operation would not, I believe, affect the final decision on the more important issue but it would create resentment which it is unnecessary to create and might cause a delay.
There now remain 43 of our internees already released by the Swedes but not yet transported. There are 326 not yet released. So far the Government has not failed to release additional blocks of the internees when requested to do so and when we were prepared to take them out. It is even possible that all of these men may be out before the Norwegian operation is concluded. I therefore think it would be a mistake to make the present release of these men a condition for the Norwegian operation. I have told Colonel Hardison93 and Colonel Balchen94 that I was not willing to go again to the Swedish authorities on Hardison’s telegram of today without reference to the Department of State for further instructions.

I fully appreciate the War Department’s desire for affirmative and quick action on these two highly important matters. I do not think that the two conditions posed by the War Department for the Norwegian operation are the best way of getting those results.

  1. Not printed.
  2. In this telegram the Minister in Sweden notified the Department that U.S. military authorities in conjunction with Swedish and Norwegian officials had made arrangements to transport the first company of Norwegians to northern Norway in American planes. This is apparently a reference to the Norwegian “Policemen forces” recruited among Norwegian refugees in Sweden where they received military training. When Soviet troops crossed the Norwegian-Finnish frontier in October 1944, the Swedish Government agreed to permit elements of this force to depart for liberated portions of northern Norway.
  3. For correspondence, see pp. 683 ff.
  4. Telegram not printed.
  5. Lt. Col. Felix M. Hardison, Assistant Military Attaché for Air.
  6. Col. Bernt Balchen, 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.