840.48 Refugees/2–745: Telegram

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

483. I have personally discussed briefly with Foreign Minister Gunther and several times at length with Von Post26 substance Department’s 106, January 19, 8 p.m.27 (WRB 293). Official Swedish reaction entirely favorable but both Gunther and Post skeptical that Germans would be in any way amenable to Swedish suggestions in this matter. Full memorandum of our views was transmitted by Foreign Office to Swedish Minister Richert at Berlin who has replied that in his opinion approach by Sweden alone to German Government under present conditions would have completely negative results. Richert also reported German authorities entertaining no requests by Swedes or others to visit these Jewish concentration camps. Foreign Office then on February 3 sent instructions to Swedish Ministers Berlin and Bern to take up secretly with Swiss Government and Vatican through Papal Nuncio at Berlin suggestion that Sweden, Switzerland and Vatican make joint approach in this matter to German [Page 1130] authorities pointing out deep concern aroused by statements attributed to Goebbels28 in Das Reich on January 21 indicating lives of Jews in camps in extreme danger and pointing out disastrous reactions on German reputation which would result if they come to harm. No reply received yet from Swedish Minister Bern but Richert reports Papal Nuncio considers such approach not only useless but might under present conditions produce effect contrary to its intentions. Same opinion expressed by Swiss Minister Berlin.

Swedish Government keenly aware of dangers and all their implications. I was assured by Post that they are examining every possibility for useful action. Fact that Swedish Government has made these exploratory suggestions to Vatican and Swiss Government should be kept secret and given no publicity.

There exists bare possibility Intercross might be able to take some action. Richert expressed opinion it is only possible body which could be employed.

  1. Eric Von Post, Chief of the Political Division, Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs.
  2. See footnote 11, p. 1121.
  3. Joseph Goebbels, German Minister for Public Enlightenment and Propaganda.