857.48/3–2845: Telegram

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

3199. For the Acting Secretary. Acting on instructions contained in Department’s instructions 4234, June 26, 194437 and 4257, July 1, 1944,38 telegram 8882, October 25, 194437 and 10128 December 2, 1944,39 which have never been modified by further instructions from the Department and FEA, the Embassy has continually pressed the British to adopt a more liberal policy towards relief shipments to occupied Europe. As instructed by the Secretary of State40 (see paragraph 4, instruction No. 4257) I personally met with Lord Selborne and other representatives of the British Government on September 20 and emphasized [Page 43] the importance our Government attached to shipments, not only from neutral countries to the then occupied countries but also to shipments through the blockade to those areas. We have assumed on the basis of the foregoing, particularly telegrams 8882, October 25 and 10128, December 2 that the Embassy had authority, at the least, to agree in principle to (a) shipments from Sweden to Norway and (b) shipments from Sweden to Norway for which Sweden would require compensation. In this connection, please see particularly paragraph 5 of Department’s 10128, December 2 which stated, in paraphrase, “we hope that MEW will not insist upon applying strictly the principle of indigenous produce with respect to food from either Sweden or Switzerland for this purpose. We are ready to allow Switzerland and Sweden compensating imports and to give the Legations, Bern and the JSC, Stockholm, wide discretion along the lines recommended by the joint Anglo-American Relief Committee with respect to Norway as given in A–1211, October 4 from Embassy.”41

Yesterday Embassy representatives met with representatives of British Foreign Office and MEW to concert our views prior to meeting with Norwegians today, March 28. At meeting with British it was agreed, on basis of our outstanding instructions, that we could at this time inform Norwegians in following sense:

Blockade approval would, in principle, be given to shipment to Norway of any foodstuffs which Norwegians could obtain in Sweden which did not require compensating imports although all proposed shipments would continue to be brought before JSC in the usual way and our right reserved to refuse applications in the event that evidence was produced of misappropriation of food by Germans.
The overriding blockade objection to all shipments through the blockade to Norway, or shipments to Sweden in compensation for shipments made to Norway, would no longer be controlling and we would be prepared to examine each case on its merits although supply and shipping difficulties might be anticipated. We should, however, interpose no objection to Norwegians examining with the supply authorities possibility of obtaining those supplies set out in the memorandum which could not be obtained from Sweden.

On receipt of Department’s telegram 234842 one hour before meeting was to be held, the Embassy requested British to postpone meeting until we could receive clarification of your instructions. Meeting is now scheduled for Wednesday, April 4.

I feel that I am placed in an untenable position by the Department’s telegram and urgently request authority to concur with the British along lines proposed above.

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I find it difficult to understand why if our Government was in a position to endorse and strongly to support the principle of expanded relief shipments last summer, it is unable to do so now when the danger of the Germans benefitting therefrom has been materially lessened and when the needs of the Norwegians have increased.

  1. Not printed.
  2. Foreign Relations, 1944, vol. ii, p. 272.
  3. Not printed.
  4. Ibid., p. 291.
  5. Cordell Hull, who resigned on November 21, 1944.
  6. Not printed, but see telegram 8373, October 5, 1944, from London, Foreign Relations, 1944, vol. ii, p. 282.
  7. Dated March 27, p. 41.