Memorandum Prepared by the Department of State for the State-War-Navy Coordinating Committee23
1. Pending request by Norwegian Government for authorization to ship from Sweden to Norway 6,700 tons of grain seed24 for spring planting.
Facts Bearing on the Problem
2. The proposed shipment of grain seed of Swedish origin to Norway from Sweden constitutes considerably less than 20 percent of such seed ordinarily sown yearly in the former country. It would consist of fall and spring wheat, fall rye, barley, oats, peas, and vetches.
The Norwegians put up this proposal on the basis of the expected liberation of their country by the time the crop is ready for harvest in the fall. The Foreign Economic Administration strongly favors the proposal on this basis in the belief that if by fall the occupying forces are not entirely out of Norway, they will at least be so thinly spread out as to preclude the probability that they would be able to put into execution an effective requisitioning program under which any large amount of the harvest would be delivered to them.
American and British representatives on the Joint Standing Committee at Stockholm, the Foreign Economic Administration and the State Department consider that the means to be employed to safeguard the delivery of the grain seed to loyal Norwegian families are entirely satisfactory from the standpoint of economic warfare. In general, the same safeguards would be employed as are used in the case of the regular monthly shipments of foodstuffs from Sweden to Norway which are distributed under the responsibility of the Swedish Donors’ Committee.
The seed would be shipped in sealed bags in lots of up to 1,000 tons as Swedish property. The entire amount would go forward in relatively small shipments with each subsequent shipment held back until the immediately prior shipment had actually been distributed to loyal Norwegian farmers. The actual distribution to the farmers [Page 37] would take place through the channels of the Norwegian Corn Monopoly, an organization which the Norwegian Government-in-Exile considers to be completely reliable and loyal. Distribution of the seed in the original bags would be made by the Corn Monopoly through its district offices only to farmers approved by the Swedish Donors’ Committee. The seed would not be stored in any one place in large quantities. The Donors’ Committee has arranged to receive current reports from the Corn Monopoly as to distribution and in the remote possibility that any shipment might be confiscated or not satisfactorily accounted for, further shipments would not be made. In rough percentage, distribution would be made as follows: 25 percent to the south and Stavanger area, 50 percent to the eastern area, 20 percent to the Trondheim district, 5 percent to the northern area. Loyal and reliable Norwegians have informed our Legation at Stockholm that there has been no interference by the Germans with foodstuffs sent to Norway from Sweden under the program conducted by the Swedish Donors’ Committee and that loyal Norwegian officials strongly support this plan and are certain that it can be carried out with success.
3. One of the strongest arguments in support of this proposal is that assuming the liberation of Norway by harvest time, the burden on Allied shipping resources would be reduced by the amount of the harvest resulting from this seed (estimated by the Department of Agriculture at approximately 60,000 tons). Should it transpire that Norway is not completely liberated by harvest time, it is believed, as noted above, that the Norwegians themselves will get substantially all the benefit from the harvest which in turn would reduce to some considerable degree the pressure which by that time will have been built up for modification in the blockade policy to permit direct shipments of foodstuffs to Norway.
4. The Norwegian Government has been pressing strongly for a decision in this case which, of course, it hopes will be in the affirmative. The British Economic Warfare authorities have already approved the proposal in principle. In view of the fact that the planting season is rapidly approaching, it is imperative that a decision on this matter should be reached as quickly as possible.[Page 38]
5. The Department of State strongly recommends that an affirmative position be taken on the Norwegian request.
- Circulated for consideration by the State-War-Navy Coordinating Committee as SWNCC 24/4, dated March 8, 1945.↩
- Subsequent to the Norwegian Ambassador’s note of February 15 (ante, p. 31), the original figure of 10,000 tons of grain seed was reduced to 6,700 tons in accordance with information furnished the Department by the Counselor of the Norwegian Embassy, Mr. Francis Irgens.↩