868.48/10–2744: Telegram

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

2188. Reurtel 4257, 4258, and 4259, October 19.15 All concerned with Greek relief program anxious that it should continue despite changed status of Greece. For your confidential information military relief supplies are limited and subject to serious delays because of extreme shipping shortage. Backlog of approximately 90,000 tons of supplies allocated to Commission for remainder of 1944, not including Greek War Relief clothing, awaits return of Swedish ships from Greek waters, where operations have delayed their unloading.

Department and military authorities appreciate difficulties of Swedish position and are grateful for generous Swedish desire to continue relief traffic. Swedish reluctance to reopen subject of safe conduct with Germans is also understandable and, in spite of early pessimism here regarding German continuance of safe-conduct, seems justified by subsequent sailing of Suorva and Pedro Christoforsen, as well as by German notification, without withdrawal of safe-conduct, that Swedish ships assigned to Greek waters could no longer be “guaranteed.”

In concert with your British colleague and at your discretion you might discuss informally with Swedish authorities any possibilities for continued use of Swedish shipping in the event safe conduct is withdrawn, and what limitation Swedes might insist on if convoy regulations were accepted. Department knows that you have already discussed this question but we are most vitally interested in retaining the use of this Swedish tonnage under any circumstances and would appreciate your opinion as to whether further discussions along this line would serve any purpose at this time. Since shipping schedules must be planned in advance it would be of greatest value in planning if more definite information could be obtained.

Please assure Swedish authorities that the Theatre Commander has been informed that nothing should be done to prejudice the neutral status of the Commission in Greece, that Commission cargoes are not subject to diversion, and that all Commission supplies are to be used for nondiscriminatory civilian relief, subject to limitations imposed by donors or procurement agencies. Department infers from your telegrams that Swedish authorities want general assurances of this sort but prefer that detailed arrangements of cooperation between Commission and military or UNRRA agents be made locally without reference to Sweden, so that no negotiations are necessary through official channels with Germans. Department notes (reurtel 4382, October [Page 199] 27) suggestion that Commission might exist nominally as consignee for relief supplies even after absorption of most of personnel by UNRRA, and considers such plan feasible.

Department would also appreciate information on status of Aahus, Bohus, and Hemland.

Sent to Stockholm. Repeated to Caserta for Kirk and for repetition to MacVeagh in Athens.

  1. Telegram No. 4257 not printed.