740.0011 E.W./4–1045: Telegram

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

1342. The possibility of Swedish military intervention in aid of Norway seems to be viewed in London’s 297, April 6, 8 p.m. (Ambassador Osborne’s 43, April 6, 8 p.m. to Department) in a somewhat broader light than appears to me to be warranted by available facts. There is no doubt that the Swedish Government has made far-reaching plans for military assistance to Norway under certain contingencies. These plans and whatever Swedish commitments to the Royal Norwegian Government may exist are a closely guarded secret and some of the highest officials of the Foreign Office are not informed of the details nor of the nature of the commitments. I am of the opinion, however, that the information given me by Norwegian Foreign Minister Lie and reported to the Department in my Top Secret 4729, November 18, 8 p.m.72 is substantially correct. If the Norwegian Government deems Swedish assistance vitally necessary for the liberation of Norway and the King of Norway73 makes a direct request for [Page 65] that assistance which is fully endorsed by the Allied High Command I believe the Swedish Government will give a favorable response and that the assistance will go far beyond a “volunteer corps” which it is generally agreed would be inadequate; it may, however, be camouflaged as “volunteer”. Much will depend on the course of events in Norway. If there is an orderly withdrawal of German forces from the north to the south and no attempt on the part of the Germans to make Norway a shambles the Swedish Government on receipt of a Norwegian request under those circumstances would probably inquire very closely into the reasons for the necessity of Swedish intervention. I do not believe that the Swedish Government will take any action against Germany as such nor could be brought to sever relations with Germany and to declare war on that country simply to facilitate a German collapse against the Allied onslaught in Germany proper, even though that might incidentally hasten the liberation of Norway. There is much conjecture but no certain knowledge as yet regarding the line the Germans will take in Norway during the last days of collapse. High foreign officials state that they have reliable information from Germany which indicates that Himmler74 is strongly opposed to making a stand in Norway or to any wanton destruction in that country; he is said to advocate an orderly withdrawal. Hitler is believed to have opposite views.

My 759, April 10, 8 p.m., top secret, repeats this to London for Ambassador Winant and Osborne.

Although the Swedish Foreign Office has issued a public denial of recent press reports that the Norwegian Government has made a request for aid, I have nevertheless been informed that a “feeler” was put out by Lie about a month or 6 weeks ago to Swedish Minister to the Norwegian Government Beck-Friis. This démarche of Lie’s seems to have been in the nature of a warning to the Swedes that a direct request for assistance might soon be made. I understand that the reply made by Boheman,75 who was then in London, was sympathetic but no definite new commitment was made. Boheman has only come to the Foreign Office today after a stay in the country of 2 weeks following his return from London. I shall endeavor to see him tomorrow and to solicit his views on a frank basis and such information as he will give me. I intend also to talk to Mr. Günther.76

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There are indications that political conditions in Norway are more factious than ever and that the Royal Government in London is being put in an increasingly defensive political position. That this should be so occasions no surprise; judging from reports by our secret service in Sweden and confirmed by the British, the Royal Norwegian Government and its representatives and agents in Sweden do not desire any active American or British collaboration in Norway; they want all the material assistance we can give them but they want no control and are not frank in their dealings. It is not entirely clear what are the causes of this attitude. The Allied refusal a short time past to accede to a Norwegian request for intervention in Norway may be partly responsible. The desire for Swedish intervention at the present time may have partly political motives. The Swedes themselves while prepared to give far-reaching assistance to Norway will not be hurried or pushed into action to serve any political ends of the Royal Government and they will require full support and endorsement of any Norwegian request for intervention from the Allied High Command with all that will imply of obligation on our part.

I will endeavor to clarify this situation as soon as possible and will report immediately.

  1. Not printed; it reported that the United States Minister in Sweden (Johnson) had been told by the Norwegian Foreign Minister (Lie), then on a visit to Stockholm, that the Swedish Prime Minister (Hansson) had assured Norway of military assistance against the Germans should events make such assistance necessary (740.0011 EW/11–1844).
  2. Haakon VII.
  3. Heinrich Himmler, German Minister of Interior and Commander in Chief of the Home Army.
  4. Erik C. Boheman, Under Secretary of State in the Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs. For Foreign Minister Lie’s record of his conversation in London on February 23 with Boheman, see Norges Forhold til Sverige under Krigen 1940–45, vol. iii, pp. 308–310.
  5. Christian E. Günther, Swedish Minister for Foreign Affairs.