103.9169/1–345: Telegram

The Minister in Sweden (Johnson) to the Secretary of State

33. Legation’s 6, January 2, 4 p.m., 1 to London. Further discussion of the precautions taken to prevent a publicity leak regarding stoppage of trade which in Swedish opinion inevitably would result in the closing of the Göteborg safe conduct traffic has produced the information from the Swedish Foreign Office that the Norwegian Government has approached the British and American Governments (MEW’s telegram to British Embassy Washington dated December 15) for approval of token shipments from Sweden to Germany sufficient to keep the Göteborg safe conduct traffic open. (London’s 838, December 14, 9 p.m. to Stockholm, number to Department unknown.19) The alleged reason for this Norwegian approach is Norwegian interest in the building up of stockpiles of relief supplies in Sweden which would be readily available for distribution in Norway upon Norway’s liberation (Legation’s 1653 December 14, 2 p.m., to London, 5112 to the Department.20 The same problem was raised in Department’s 1428, July 17, 9 p.m.,21 and commented on in my 720 July 20, 5 p.m., to London22 for SHAEF22). It has allegedly been made clear to the Norwegians that if the war in Europe should be prolonged until August the Swedish supply situation (London’s 10507, November 28, 8 p.m. to the Department, 771 to Stockholm20) will have so deteriorated that Sweden will be unable to meet its promises to provide food and clothing.

Thus far according to Sohlman the Germans have not been informed that Swedish exports to Germany have been stopped. The Germans have simply been informed that the situation is not sufficiently clear to enable the Swedes to enter negotiations for the renewal of the German Swedish trade agreement23 which expired at the end of 1944 and that they are not ready to enter negotiations for other types of trade such as the barter transactions with Norway and Denmark. However, Swedish Foreign Office officials fear that if the Germans are not invited before the middle of January (Legation’s 5134, December 15, 6 p.m., 1661 to London24) to discuss trade the Germans will [Page 737]“smell a rat”. Those officials also fear that it would be much more difficult to get the Göteborg safe conduct traffic reopened than to keep it open.

In discussing these factors the Swedes have stressed that they are anxious that the record shall show that they have warned us about the importance of the Göteborg safe conduct traffic to the Allies and what in their considered judgment is the minimum the Swedes would have to offer the Germans in order to keep that traffic open. They also would like it shown that if the Allies in the interest of the Norwegians and other peoples in distress should authorize the Swedes to attempt within certain limitations to make an arrangement with the Germans, closing of the traffic and the resultant consequences to distressed people would clearly be on the heads of the Germans.

The Swedes have reiterated in advancing these considerations that they do not in any way intend to suggest that they are not willing and prepared to carry through with their undertaking to stop all Swedish exports to Germany. They have stopped these exports and the exports will not be resumed unless the Allies request that they be resumed. The Swedes merely wish us to be warned of the possible consequences. The Legation, of course, has maintained and maintains that all exports to German-controlled Europe must be terminated. Mr. Boheman in private conversation with me has expressed personal gratification over this position.

My 15 January 3, 7 p.m., repeats this to London.

Johnson
  1. Telegram 11089, December 14, 1944, from London, Foreign Relations, 1944, vol. iv., p. 675.
  2. Not printed.
  3. Not found in Department files.
  4. Supreme Headquarters, Allied Expeditionary Force.
  5. Supreme Headquarters, Allied Expeditionary Force.
  6. Not printed.
  7. The Swedish-German Trade Agreement for 1964, which was concluded on January 10, 1944.
  8. Foreign Relations, 1944, vol. iv, p. 676.