740.0011E.W./2–1245: Telegram

The Ambassador in the United Kingdom ( Winant ) to the Secretary of State

1493. We have received a letter from Warner, head of the Northern Department of the Foreign Office, reporting a talk he had had with Gumming23 in which he explained the British position regarding the Danish appeal to be recognized as Allies and which, according to Warner, Cumming agreed should be telegraphed to the Department.

In response to Cumming’s explanation that the Department was nervous of the German reaction in Denmark to a public declaration and felt uncertain as to whether or not an approach to the Soviet Government on the subject might do harm in some way, Warner explained that the Foreign Office did not think it necessary or good tactics vis-à-vis either the Russians or the Danes to show more anxiety about possible retaliation on the Danes than the Danish authors of the appeal to the Allies appeared to feel. It was also explained that the British regarded as the most important point in the matter the possible opportunity offered by the appeal of securing recognition by Russia of the fact that the combination of political leaders and the Freedom Council, by whom the appeal was addressed to the Allies, represented [Page 565] authoritative opinion in Denmark. The Foreign Office thinks that the Russians may not find it altogether convenient to be unresponsive to such an appeal sponsored by the Freedom Council and on the other hand the British think that such a response would be a most useful corrective of the present unfortunate tendency of the Russians to regard only the Freedom Council as worthy of support and to view the King and the political leaders as something approaching collaborationists. The Foreign Office feels that a Russian response to this present appeal would be a useful step towards the resumption of Soviet-Danish relations. For the above reasons the Foreign Office still thinks it would be useful for the British and American Governments to approach the Soviet Government and urge it to join in some form of tripartite joint, or parallel, reply to the appeal of the Danish leaders.

Warner states that he and Gumming discussed the American reply to the Danes (as given in the Department’s 824, February 2, 11 p.m.24) and that he pointed out that since the text of this reply had been communicated to the Soviet Government the American Government would no doubt wish to send such a reply but that the British had better not do so unless it was finally decided not to make an approach to the Russians. The British feel that otherwise the Soviet Government would certainly take it amiss that the American and British Governments had replied to the Danes before communicating to it their views. According to Warner, Cumming and he considered, however, that the American message could be looked on as being in the nature of an interim acknowledgment.

The Foreign Office realizes that it would be difficult for the American Government now to urge upon the Soviet Government that it should join in a public declaration inasmuch as the Soviet Government will have noted from the American reply to the Danes that the American Government is nervous as to the effects of a public statement.

Warner states that he therefore asked Cumming whether or not it would be possible for the American Government, if it was convinced by the British reasoning, to join the British in urging the Russians to take part in a responsive message of some kind to the Danes which should not be published.

According to Warner, Cumming thought it would be worthwhile for the Embassy to put this question to the Department.

Warner concludes by stating that the British realize that the chances of persuading the Russians are not very good but that for the reasons explained above it would be a great pity not to try to persuade the Russians to show a certain measure of approval of the political leaders [Page 566] in Denmark by joining United States in a favorable response to this message.

Repeated to Stockholm for Cumming as Embassy’s 918.

  1. Hugh S. Cumming, Jr., Chief of the Division of Northern European Affairs.
  2. Not printed.