868.48/11–1444: Telegram

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

4667. Substance of British Foreign Office’s policy telegram on Greek relief 371, November 8 to Embassy Washington repeated to Stockholm and Caserta has been discussed with us by British Legation here.

It describes present status of Greek relief fleet as “unworkable” for forward planning purposes because of uncertainty regarding length of time German safe-conduct will remain available and advocates determined effort by two Legations to shake Swedish attitude.

Telegram being sent today by British Legation to London and Washington represents concerted comment of both Legations on principles at issue in 371. If we have understood correctly, undertakings which US and British Governments gave through Swedes at time when Greek relief scheme was inaugurated constitute chief obstacle in way of persuading Swedes to alter any present arrangements without first obtaining German consent. (For these undertakings see in [Page 205] particular my despatches 773, June 26, 1942 and 811, July 10, 1942.20) Meanwhile Swedes are at pains to maintain appearance that whole scheme, Commission and fleet, is functioning as before, with difference that Allies instead of Germans now hold Greece.

We believe that if Swedes taxed their ingenuity they might possibly work our [out] some plan which would permit them to contend they had carried out their obligations toward Germans but would at same time be more satisfactory for us. However Swedish policy regarding relief fleet is inextricably bound up with degree of consideration which Allies show toward interest of Swedish commercial shipping during shipping pool discussions now beginning in London. We were told (my 3962, September 29, 9 p.m.) that Greek relief shipping would figure in general pool discussions.

Gunnar Carlsson, Chairman of Swedish Shipping Commission, is in London and Boheman expects to join him any day. Until Swedes see how they are faring in pool discussions there is, in opinion of both Legations, small hope of obtaining satisfaction on any phases of relief scheme which would have to be referred to Berlin or which might seem at variance with Swedish commercial shipping interest.

Both Legations have given careful study to contents of 371 with view to supplying prompt comment on any points concerning which Department or British authorities may wish to question us.

  1. Neither printed.