740.00119 Control (Germany)/7–3145

No. 1058
The British Foreign Secretary (Bevin) to the Secretary of State

My Dear Secretary of State[:] With reference to discussion at the Foreign Secretaries’ meeting yesterday afternoon,1 I send you herewith copy of a letter which I have written to Monsieur Molotov, together with a copy of the Soviet aide-mémoire2 to which reference is made in it, on the subject of the disarming of the German troops in Norway.

Yours very sincerely

Ernest Bevin
[Enclosure 1]

The British Foreign Secretary (Bevin) to the Soviet Foreign Commissar (Molotov)

Dear M. Molotov, At the Plenary Meeting on July 25th last3 Generalissimo Stalin said that the Soviet Government had received information to the effect that German troops in Norway were not [Page 1039] being properly disarmed. Mr. Churchill undertook to have enquiries made and to submit a report on the facts.

M. Novikov subsequently communicated to Sir W. Strang an aide-mémoire setting out the information in the hands of the Soviet Government.

I have now received the following report from the competent authorities in London, and I am happy to be able to tell you that the allegations contained in the Soviet aide-mémoire of July 25th are without foundation.

The true situation is as follows:

At the conclusion of hostilities with Germany there were in all 365,000 Germans in Norway. These were all collected into reservations, up to ten miles square in area, in which they were confined to within one kilometre of the camps where they lived and the roads joining such camps. A small number of Germans connected with communications, supply and technical services are “exempt” from confinement in these reservations and work in depots and similar installations.

After collection into the reservations, the Germans in Norway were all disarmed except for the officers and two per cent of the other ranks. These were allowed to retain pistols and rifles respectively, with a very small quantity of ammunition, to maintain order and discipline amongst themselves. There are in all about 7,300 Germans thus allowed to bear arms. No German is allowed to bear arms outside his reservation, depot or similar installation.

The Soviet aide-mémoire of July 25th referred to reports that German troops stationed in the area between the towns of Mo and Trondhjem, numbering about 260,000 men and those in the region of Tromsö numbering about 140,000 men were in possession of their arms and war equipment. The true facts are as follows:

In the Mo–Trondhjem area there are 49,688 Germans, of whom 1,400 have been allowed to retain arms and 7,500 are “exempt” from confinement in reservations. In the Bodö–Tromsö area, out of a total of 120,000 men, 2,750 are armed and 13,300 exempt from confinement. It will be seen therefore that the reports referred to in the Soviet aide-mémoire are incorrect and devoid of foundation.

I should like to take this opportunity of raising a point connected with the evacuation of the German troops from Norway. 108,000 of the Germans in Norway originated from the Russian Zone of Occupation in Germany. The British military authorities are at present responsible for the disposal of 54,000 of these Germans, the United States military authorities having offered to take responsibility for the remaining 54,000. It would much facilitate the work [Page 1040] of evacuation if the Soviet authorities would accept direct from Norway those 54,000 Germans originating from the Russian Zone in Germany who are now the responsibility of the British military authorities. If the Soviet Government agree in principle to this proposal, I would suggest that arrangements for transporting these Germans direct from Norway to the Russian Zone in Germany might be worked out by the appropriate British[,] Soviet and possibly Swedish authorities.

E. Bevin
  1. See ante, p. 496.
  2. This enclosure is not printed. It is a variant translation of the aide-mémoire presented to the United States Delegation (enclosure to document No. 1056).
  3. See ante, p. 386.