868.48/5250: Telegram

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

1087. Boheman85 received British Chargé d’ Affaires and me March 30 to present Swedish reply to parallel British and American notes of March 14 (see my 880, March 14, 7[5] p.m.). Substance of Swedish reply follows:

Swedish Government will be glad to continue its Greek relief activities during transition period after liberation. This applies also to Swedish Government’s members of relief organization.

Presumably present organization should continue along past lines until other suitable arrangements can be made. No doubt agreement to this effect will be easily reached on spot between Sandström86 and authorities which take over administration of Greece. As suggested [Page 182] in Legation’s note it would be helpful if more detailed program could already be submitted for discussion. However, question of continued use of Swedish ships now engaged in Greek relief traffic must in due time be object of special agreement with shipowners. End of note.

Ancillary Swedish memorandum presented at the same time states Swedish Government has not consulted International Red Cross Committee. Foreign Ministry would appreciate being informed if, how and when Allied Governments concerned deem such consultation desirable. End of memorandum.

Discussing last sentence of note Boheman said he supposes German safe conduct would be withdrawn after liberation of Greece. In reply to question whether fact that we grant safe conduct while Germans occupy Greece is reason for Germans to continue safe conduct after we reenter Greece, Boheman felt there was scant hope of retaining safe conduct on these grounds.

British Chargé inquired whether Swedish Government could not when time comes exert influence with Swedish shipowners to induce them to keep their vessels in Greek relief traffic even if German safe conduct is withdrawn and vessels must navigate under Allied protection. Boheman replied Swedes could not requisition ships except for Swedish purposes.

Government could wield influence but not necessarily decisive influence. He, Boheman, believes negotiations with shipowners should not begin until time is ripe because many factors cannot be foreseen. For instance, Greece could be liberated while war elsewhere continues and relief ships would be exposed to war hazards. Or Greece might be liberated in conjunction with general cessation of war.

Regarding ancillary memorandum possibility was discussed that in case International Red Cross should prove to be unwilling to [continue] sponsorship of Greek relief after liberation, relief activities might be conducted as purely Swedish Red Cross venture. This solution might preserve Red Cross character of ships even though German safe conduct be withdrawn. Boheman indicated that if International Red Cross were to assume this negative attitude he saw no reason why purely Swedish scheme might not work out. Swedish Red Cross can, he considers, give humanitarian aid to any suffering people.

Swedish note and Boheman’s comments constitute favorable and sympathetic reply to our démarche of March 14 and foreshadow receptive Swedish attitude toward whatever further Allied proposals may in due time be forthcoming.

  1. Erik C. Boheman, Secretary General of the Swedish Foreign Office.
  2. A. Emil F. Sandström, President of the (Swedish) Greek Relief Commission.