800.515/7–2045: Telegram

The Chargé in Sweden (Ravndal) to the Secretary of State

2544. Review of our Safehaven objectives (my 1438, July 20, repeats this to London for Herschel Johnson82) was held with Swedes yesterday in order to ascertain how far they had gone in meeting our requests and to induce them to satisfy outstanding requests. Legation’s 2514, July 17, 1426 to London.83 See also Legation’s despatch 5543, May 9 transmitting text of our objectives as informally presented to Swedish Govt. Swedes have met all our requests and even gone further.

Introduction Annex A to text: Swedes agreed to assist the United Nations in carrying out policy laid down in United Nations’ Declaration Jan 5, 1943, Gold Declaration Feb 22, 1944, and Resolution VI Bretton Woods. Swedish Govt agrees to continue in force “as long as it is deemed necessary” such measures already instigated [instituted?] for above purposes and to give favorable consideration to such other measures as are indicated in declarations and resolution. Thus full compliance with introduction has been obtained.

Pgh references are to statement our objectives. Swedes advise that since Bretton Woods Resolution VI is not an international document but only an agreement by economic experts of certain countries to request other countries to take certain steps, Swedish Govt cannot formally adhere to Bretton Woods Resolution VI. Swedes have, however, in minutes of meeting of King and Cabinet which have been [Page 889] made public (transmitted Leg’s despatch 5789, July 584), stated that legislation to control (German) assets and to provide for restoration looted property is in adherence to above declarations and with requests set forth Bretton Woods Resolution VI. They agree, moreover, to hold press conference in near future at which time they will reiterate their intention to fulfill demands and spirit of demands of Bretton Woods Resolution VI and above declarations. Swedes thus comply fully with this request.
Swedes have now frozen all German assets in Sweden. All liquid assets had been frozen previously. Swedes agree that the principles for the licensing of transactions involving frozen assets shall be a matter of agreement between the British, Swedes and ourselves. They agree that full information on all licenses issued will be made available to the UK and US. Swedes thus fulfill this request.
Sweden has already taken necessary steps to comply fully with our request for the immobilization and disposal of looted assets in accordance with Bretton Woods VI and in so doing they went so far as to change existing civil law and establish special administrative board for hearing such cases and expediting action on them.
  • (a) Swedes are issuing on July 21 a new census (previous census issued beginning of year covered liquid assets and debts) which will cover all types of assets referred to Pgh 4. Census was drafted on basis our discussions and requests at various meetings. With reference to dual census Swedes agree in principle with holding of another census to cover the history of transactions in Sweden of German assets. Agreement on this was reached after considerable discussion in which it was pointed out that a failure to investigate transactions in German assets as distinguished from census on assets themselves, as is being done in census issued July 21, will cut Swedes off from a valuable and necessary source of information. We argued that by getting a transaction history from a special census Swedes will obtain information on assets in Sweden from persons who no longer have any interest in such assets and who are therefore not likely to give false replies to census, whereas a person now holding a German asset is more likely to violate regulations by not reporting it. We impressed Swedes with fact of our experience and of tremendous benefits we obtained from holding a “transaction census” in addition to an “asset census”. However, Swedes point out that to require a statement on all transactions in German assets in Sweden since 1939 will be administratively impossible. Accordingly it was agreed that a feasible method for holding such census would be worked out by us in consultation with Swedes.
  • (b) While Govt of Sweden will not make available to US and UK the actual census forms as completed by Swedish residents, they will [Page 890] make available to the US and UK all information on German assets in Sweden obtained from the census and from other sources. We expect full and complete compliance with this. This agreement will have to be cleared with the new govt in beginning Aug but we are assured that Govt will approve since administrative agencies and Foreign Office will so recommend. Agreement on this question came after considerable and protracted discussion in which we emphasized the need for complete and frank exchange of information and need for us to know what assets are in Sweden in order to be in a position to discuss disposition of such assets at a future date. We pointed out that an exchange of information of this type is in no way an attempt on our part to administer Swedish law nor does it in any way constitute an invasion of their sovereignty. We emphasized that without agreement to make available such information to us the Swedes will not have fulfilled the spirit of Resolution VI and that obviously such failure would cause an unfavorable reaction in US and UK.
  • (c) Concerning permission to Swedish nationals to make available to us any information directed to Safehaven investigations the following agreement was reached: The chief of the administrative agency handling Safehaven at a press conference will announce it is duty of all Swedes to bring to that agency any information they may have concerning the existence of German assets in Sweden. However, it is informally agreed but will not be publicly announced that should US or UK Legations or their personnel obtain information from Swedes or residents in Sweden concerning Safehaven, this information with name of the source can be made available to Swedish Safehaven agency for appropriate investigation without any risk to source being prejudiced vis-à-vis Swedish law. In other words for first time we have right to interview persons on Safehaven questions without those persons giving information being subject to penalties for violation of Swedish law.
  • (d) Govt of Sweden agrees to freeze and to conduct a census of all Axis satellite countries’ assets upon notification to Swedish Govt that such countries as have representatives here do not object to such freezing and census. Govt of Sweden will further agree to conduct a similar census and freezing of all assets of formerly occupied countries upon receiving a request from such countries to take such action. This agreement goes beyond what was actually requested in our objectives since we did not refer to formerly occupied countries nor did we include all satellites. Legation should appreciate being advised by Dept as to procedure to be followed in notifying Swedes of agreement of satellite countries and in having formerly occupied countries make known their request to Swedes. (Legation’s 2502, [Page 891] July 17, 1421 to London.)85 Thus full compliance with Pgh 4 has been obtained.
With ref to obtaining of information from persons who possess German nationality (i.e., in Sweden on German passports), full details on this are being obtained from German Legation and if necessary additional information can be obtained from Swedish Govt. With ref to former Germans now stateless in Sweden it was agreed that Swedish representatives of the Safehaven agency and the Foreign Office will recommend to the next Govt that full information be given us on such persons, that we will investigate the history of these persons through the facilities available to us in Germany and will advise Swedes of those who are considered dangerous and those who are considered bona fide refugees. … Obtaining of this agreement was one of most difficult aspects of negotiations. Swedish opposition to it was to avoid prejudicing publicly refugees in Sweden, the greater percentage of whom are undoubtedly bona fide, and not to establish a precedent for submitting information on refugees which might be embarrassing to the Swedes should a request be made concerning refugees from Baltic countries by USSR. It was pointed out to Swedes that in other countries, particularly Switzerland, it has been found that stateless persons have in fact acted in collusion with former German Govt and have acquired a stateless status at the request of former German Govt or its officials or groups within Germany and that what Germans did in Switzerland they unquestionably did here. It was pointed out further that since Swedes in their initial census have not made it applicable to stateless persons (though this will be done) it is essential that through some means or other they ascertain now who are undesirable refugees who may be hiding German assets. Swedes were advised that if they failed to submit such information to us they were leaving a large hole in their controls and they would not be acting in a full spirit of cooperation. This agreement which we are assured will probably be accepted by the Govt will cover fully our request Pgh 5.
Swedes have established effective controls on transactions with other countries. Accordingly no further action beyond administration will be required for this. The Swedes agree to make available information on licenses granted and to decide with us on principles of licensing. Thus full agreement with Pgh 6 has been obtained.
Sweden agrees to investigate all suspicious cases including those referred to it by US and UK and to report on such investigations to US and UK and take necessary freezing action where required. Swedes also agree to prosecute vigorously violations of measures referred to above. Thus full agreement on Pgh 7 has been obtained.
Swedes agree to use facilities of JSC in Stockholm, London, and Washington or special committees thereof for handling of all questions relating to this agreement.

Subject to Swedish Govt’s approving submission to us of all information on German assets obtained from census or from other sources and subject to approval of Swedish Govt for a list of former Germans now stateless both of which we are assured will be approved, and subject to satellite countries stating they have no objections to freezing of their assets, and occupied countries requesting a freeze, we have obtained full and complete compliance with our objectives as drafted in Washington. One remaining question is holding of another census in order to fulfill our request for a “transaction census” but there is agreement in principle on this. Thus Sweden has as a result of the negotiations taken or agreed to take all of the action contemplated by our requests. It is intention of Swedish Govt to write us a letter stating that they have decided to assist United Nations in carrying out policy set forth in the two declarations and Resolution VI and to continue in force all measures instituted for this purpose and to give favorable consideration to such other measures as are indicated as being necessary. Swedes will probably include a statement in their letter that such action does not prejudice question of ultimate disposal of German assets in Sweden. On this question the Swedes state that they believe that claims arising out of German debts to Sweden which occurred prior to outbreak of war should be treated on a different basis from claims which arose from loans made during war concerning which Swedes have none. On basis of the Swedish action which goes even farther than we had requested (thus it includes freezing occupied countries and all satellites), Legation recommends that the policy set forth Legation’s 2528, July 19 to Dept,86 1431 London, 35 Moscow, 8 Lisbon, 41 Bern, 2 Ankara and 10 Buenos Aires, be followed (cf. Rubin’s second proposal point 3 Paris’ 105, July 10, 4132 Dept;87 506 London, 174 Moscow, 220 Lisbon, 287 Bern, 6 Ankara, 5 Buenos Aires).

It is emphasized that agreement to transmit information to us on German assets here and the proposed agreement to submit to us a list of all former Germans now stateless is to be kept secret and under no circumstances should it be referred to in any public statement or to any other Govt. If Dept contemplates, however, issuing a statement concerning Swedish adherence to Bretton Woods and its full cooperation [Page 893] with it, Legation should appreciate an opportunity of first checking such statement. Such statement should refer to Sweden’s “voluntary action”.

Swedish Govt takes position that compliance with our requests, and steps taken by them to control German-owned firms, requires us to delete such firms from Proclaimed List upon being satisfied that control is effective. Swedes will appoint interventors to administer such firms. Deletion will in no way prejudice our future claims against such German assets since it is fully agreed that deletion will not change fact that such firms are German assets. We strongly urge that such request should be met and should be so stated in our reply to Swedish letter. This was discussed with Fleming when he was here who fully concurred. British also concur. Legation therefore strongly urges that following be agreed to: firms which are listed solely because of enemy ownership will be deleted promptly from published lists once two Legations are satisfied that control is satisfactory. In this connection it is to be noted that we are very impressed with caliber Swedes administrating controls, their energy and desire to do an effective job and to cooperate 100 percent with us, and care they are taking in picking good persons to administer firms. We believe that to refuse Swedish request will be a wholly unwarranted action and will weaken effective administration they are establishing as well as raising serious political question with Swedish Govt who will then question our good faith. Urgent acceptance of this principle would therefore be appreciated. London please discuss with MEWFO.88

Dept’s comments on above agreement would be appreciated in order that we can advise Swedes of Dept’s reaction.

My 42 Bern, 7 Madrid, 9 Lisbon, 3 Ankara, 11 Buenos Aires, 1 Tangiers, 36 July 20 Moscow repeat this message.

  1. American Minister to Sweden.
  2. Not printed.
  3. Not printed.
  4. Not printed.
  5. Not printed. The policy referred to was proposed by Seymour J. Rubin, Chief of the Division of Economic Security Controls, detailed to the U.S. delegation, Allied Commission on Reparations, to the effect that the Allies postpone any decision on the counter claims of the neutrals to German assets, while simultaneously informing the neutrals that satisfaction of their claims would depend partly on the effectiveness of their controls (800.515/7–1945).
  6. Not printed.
  7. Ministry of Economic Warfare, Foreign Office.