740.00112 EW/4–1745

Memorandum by the Secretary of State to President Roosevelt 52

The Norwegians have requested us on an urgent basis to approve intra-blockade relief shipments by rail from Sweden to Norway involving such commodities as 5,000 tons of super phosphate fertilizers, 10,000 tons of flour, 1,000 tons of dried peas, 3,000 tons of seed potatoes and 100 tons of clothing.53 Further requests of a similar nature may be anticipated. Distribution would be effected by loyal Norwegian groups and a Swedish relief organization, the commodities to remain [Page 51] Swedish property until delivered to the ultimate Norwegian consumer. These controls have always proved satisfactory in the past. Owing to the poor 1944 harvest and faulty transportation, the food situation in Norway is serious, but, except in isolated places, is not believed to approach the famine conditions existing in Holland. The British have already indicated their approval of these shipments, while SHAEF has urged that all possible measures be taken to insure maximum planting of Norwegian crops. The U.S. Joint Chiefs, however, consider that from a military standpoint it is inadvisable to increase relief shipments to Norway beyond the present 1,000 tons monthly program in view of the possibility that they might be seized by the Germans and used to sustain pockets of resistance in Norway after the collapse in Germany. They therefore feel that a decision to ship the supplies must be based on political and humanitarian rather than military considerations.

From a political, as well as humanitarian viewpoint, I consider it highly desirable that modest relief shipments, such as those above, be permitted to go forward. All possible precautions would be taken to prevent them falling into German hands, as is being done in the case of the 6,700 tons of seed grain recently approved at your direction. Prior approval by the Department and FEA would be required in each case. FEA concurs in this view. This system was in effect until recently questioned by the Joint Chiefs. At this late stage, I feel it to be highly undesirable politically to reverse our position. May I have your authorization to provide for the continuance of these shipments?

E. R. Stettinius, Jr.
  1. A marginal handwritten notation reads: “Approved 4/17/45 Harry Truman.” President Roosevelt died on April 12.
  2. The requests were presented in two aide-mémoires from the Norwegian Embassy to the Department of State, both dated April 6, 1945, neither printed.