The Minister in Sweden (Johnson) to the Secretary of State
[Received 10:28 p.m.]
1311. Reference my 1067, March 19, 8 p.m., and previous telegrams based on Department’s secret instruction No. 897, January 29, 1945 regarding release by Sweden of interned American Air Force bombers.
Foreign Minister Günther informed me this afternoon that the Government has consented to release of all force-landed bombers which arrived in Sweden prior to January 1945. This will in fact be practically all of them. Mr. Günther Said that he had been discussing this matter with the Prime Minister88 and other members of the Cabinet for some time and that he was glad to tell me that there were no conditions whatever attached to the release of these aircraft. They do not include the machines which have already been loaned to Sweden and those which have been offered by the Military Attaché under authorization of the War Department. Mr. Günther said that it had not been an easy matter to push this through the Cabinet but that favorable action had recently been facilitated by the arrival of three or four German fighter planes which gave him an opportunity to establish a technical quid pro quo for release of four planes.
I subsequently saw Mr. Assarsson who informed me that present action refers only to the release of American craft but that Mr. Günther hoped there will be no objection on our part to Swedish release of any British craft which may be here and to the release of the three or four German fighter planes which have landed in Sweden. Mr. Günther’s argument on this point has validity in my opinion. There are a certain number of members of the Cabinet in positions of influence who are neutrally minded to an extreme degree in a technical sense. Release of the three or four German craft which in comparison with our bombers are only a token, serves apparently to calm their conscience at the breach of technical neutrality.
I have on several occasions since receipt of Department’s instruction on February 15 mentioned our desires in regard to these bombers to Mr. Günther without making of him a formal request. Legation has [Page 762]also kept matter constantly before other officials of the Foreign Office. I have the impression that Mr. Günther and his Foreign Office associates were sympathetic and have been working for our ends. Mr. Günther evidenced pleasure when he gave me the information this afternoon.
In a later telegram I will inform Department of exactly what is involved in this Swedish action in terms of machines and how many are physically capable of being moved out.89
Please inform War Department.