Memorandum by the Chairman of the State-War-Navy Coordinating Committee (Dunn) to the Secretary of State 16

Reference is made to the letter, dated 22 December 1944, from the Secretary of State to the Secretary of War, regarding the Swedish proposals for relief shipments from Sweden to Norway to alleviate Norwegian distress caused by the Germans and requesting that these proposals be again submitted to the Joint Chiefs of Staff for their approval.

In a communication, dated 9 February 1945, the Joint Chiefs of Staff submitted, for the signatures of the Secretaries of War and the Navy, a draft reply to the Secretary of State’s letter in effect disapproving the proposals.

This draft reply has been considered by the State-War-Navy Coordinating Committee. At the Committee’s meeting on 23 February 1945 the State Department pointed out that pursuant to an agreement reached in June 1944,17 to which the Department of State and the Foreign Economic Administration were parties, Sweden was authorized to export an average of 500 tons per month of relief supplies to Norway and that this monthly shipment has recently been increased to an average of 1,000 tons, with the agreement of this Government. In view of this position, which the State Department considers of high political and humanitarian importance, the Committee at that meeting agreed that this program shall be continued provided the average monthly shipments are limited to 1,000 tons and are restricted to the types of commodities listed in paragraph B of the enclosed memorandum dated 21 February from the Department of State to the Committee.

The Committee further agreed that requests for any additional relief shipments from Sweden to Norway should be referred to the War and Navy Departments for decision.

For the State-War-Navy Coordinating Committee:
James Clement Dunn
[Page 33]

Memorandum Prepared by the Department of State for the State-War-Navy Coordinating Committee18

A. Continuing relief program. Pursuant to an agreement reached in June 1944 between the British Ministry of Economic Warfare on the one hand, and the Department of State and the Foreign Economic Administration on the other, Sweden was authorized to export an average of 500 tons per month of relief supplies to Norway for distribution under Swedish auspices and responsibility. The foodstuffs have been utilized in connection with a daily school lunch program for over 134,000 Norwegian school children and in sustaining 38,500 aged persons and 15,000 young Norwegians living “underground”. The majority of the latter are believed to be members of “Milorg”,19 the Norwegian equivalent of the FFI20 groups operating in France prior to its liberation. Recently, the Swedish authorities requested and obtained from the British and American Governments permission to increase the average monthly shipment of relief supplies to Norway from 500 tons to 1,000 tons. This will consist of 63 tons of milk powder, 42 tons of sugar, 35 tons of oat groats, 169 tons of peas, 78 tons of barley groats, 11 tons of dried vegetables, 50 tons of potato flakes, 183 tons of meat preserves, 35 tons of semolina and a balance within the 1,000 ton limit which will vary from month to month. For the month of February 1945, the balance will be composed of approximately 100 tons of whey cheese or whey butter, 100 tons of margarine, 50 tons of biscuits, and 50 tons of barley flakes. Except for the sugar, which was produced in Denmark, and the meat preserves and margarine, which were originally imported into Sweden from Argentina for Swedish consumption, all of the aforementioned products are of Swedish origin.

The relief supplies described above are distributed in Norway by the Donors’ Committee, a coordinating organization combining the Norwegian relief efforts of the Swedish Red Cross, the Norwegian Relief Organization, Save the Children, and Norwegian Relief Inc. (an American agency). Both the Swedish Foreign Office and the free Norwegian Legation at Stockholm are fully satisfied that every precaution [Page 34] is taken to prevent any of these shipments either from falling into the hands of the Germans or from being diverted to purposes other than those for which they are exported. These precautions are described as follows:

All relief supplies are shipped from Sweden to Norway only after approval by the Anglo-American-Swedish Joint Standing Committee,21 and are handled by the Donors’ Committee, which operates from Oslo and which consists of reliable Swedes and Norwegians. The goods when shipped into Norway are shipped as Swedish property.
The goods are generally distributed immediately under the supervision of the Donors’ Committee by Norwegians who have been approved by the Committee, the underground, and the Free Norwegian Legation at Stockholm.
Goods which are not distributed immediately are held in storage in various warehouses, which for security reasons are not located in or near centers of population. It has been arranged by the Donors’ Committee that in the event the Germans discover and molest goods held in storage in any one place, goods in other storage facilities will either be removed or destroyed.
The American and British Legations check on the distribution of the goods through periodical reports received from the Donors’ Committee in Oslo, transmitted to Sweden through underground facilities; through meetings with representatives of the Oslo Donors’ Committee, at such time as any member comes to Sweden and through reports received by members of the American and British Legations from the Norwegian underground. The underground mail communications controlled by the OSS21a are employed to obtain information on any particular shipment.
In no instance has any report been received indicating that relief supplies shipped to Norway have been diverted from approved Norwegians. On the contrary, the information received on relief shipments to Norway reveals that the goods already distributed have, in each case, been received by desirable Norwegians and that there has been no German interference with their storage or distribution.

B. Special shipments of relief supplies. From time to time, the American and British Governments have agreed to special requests by the Norwegian Government for the shipment of relief supplies from Sweden to Norway. Some recent examples are:

Agreement to the shipment of 6,500 tons of Swedish foodstuffs for distribution among Norwegian households to be held in reserve to help tide Norwegian families over a period of dislocation incident to increased military activities in Northern Norway. This total consists of 1,000 tons of sugar, 20,000 tons of wheat flour, 1,000 tons of [Page 35] fats, 200 tons of blood pudding, 200 tons of dried vegetables, 500 tons of port [pork?] and a balance made up of dried milk and fats.
Approximately 350 tons of clothing and 75,000 pairs of shoes of Swedish origin for distribution among Norwegian civilians.
Small quantities of Swedish medical supplies for civil hospitals.
2,000 tons of fats for distribution in Urban areas where there is extremely serious shortage.
10,000 tons of seed grain for planting this spring and harvesting in the fall of 1945. This quantity represents approximately one-fifth of the total amount required by Norway for planting purposes.

All of the above special shipments are distributed in Norway by the Donor’s Committee.

Although in the past certain of the commodities included in the special relief shipments, in particular fats, represented purchases made by the Norwegian Government outside the blockade area and shipped to Sweden on Swedish safe-conduct vessels, it is highly doubtful whether it would be possible to follow this procedure in the future in view of Germany’s recent action in suspending the Swedish safe-conduct traffic in retaliation for the termination of all Swedish exports to Germany.

C. Recommendations of the State Department. As stated in SWNCC 24/1, dated February 15, 1944,22 the State Department considers that for high political reasons the Government of the United States cannot about-face now in its attitude toward the general question of relief shipments from Sweden to Norway. Aside from the political reasons involved, the State Department is convinced that in certain circumstances such as those pertaining to Norway, relief programs in occupied territory are not detriments to the prosecution of Allied military operations but, on the contrary, may be contributory to their success. It feels that the shipment of arms to resistance groups in occupied territory is of little avail unless the civilian population in general and members of the resistance groups in particular are likewise furnished with a modicum of foodstuffs. The State Department considers that this Government is formally committed to the continuance of the monthly Norwegian relief program of 1,000 tons. With respect to special relief shipments from Sweden to Norway, the State Department strongly recommends that the United States Joint Chiefs of Staff agree, in principal, to their continuance. In connection with this latter type of relief work, the State Department is prepared to refer every special relief request to the War and Navy Departments and to the Joint Chiefs of Staff for decision.

No Allied shipping has been or will be involved in the maintenance either of the continuing Swedish relief program for Norway or for special relief shipments. Furthermore, no compensatory shipments [Page 36] to Sweden to make up for relief shipments to Norway are contemplated until after the war.

  1. At its 12th Meeting, March 3, 1945, the State-War-Navy Coordinating Committee agreed to forward this memorandum to the Secretary of State. The memorandum was designated document SWNCC 24/3, 5 March 1945, Enclosure 1.
  2. For the terms of the agreement reached in June 1944 between the British Ministry of Economic Warfare on the one hand, and the Department of State and the Foreign Economic Administration on the other, see the memorandum by Mr. Eldred D. Kuppinger of the Special War Problems Division, dated June 12, 1944, Foreign Relations, 1944, vol. ii, p. 266.
  3. Submitted in accordance with the recommendation contained in the Minutes of the 10th Meeting of the State-War-Navy Coordinating Committee held on February 16, 1945, not printed.
  4. Norwegian resistance organization.
  5. Forces Françaises de l’Intérieur (French Forces of the Interior), French resistance organization.
  6. The Joint Standing Committee consisting of United States, United Kingdom, and Swedish representatives was established in Stockholm to assure the Allied Governments that Swedish trade policy was in accordance with various wartime trade agreements.
  7. Office of Strategic Services.
  8. See footnote 8, p. 28.