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

No. 5635

Sir: Referring to the Department’s Top Secret instruction No. 1065, May 11, 1945,90 I have the honor to inform the Department that the Swedish Government has accepted as a gift from the United States Army Air Forces the nine Flying Fortresses (Boeing 17s) which it previously held on a loan basis. Accordingly, the question of a contract to govern this loan raised in the Legation’s despatch No. 4976, January 29, 1945,91 entitled “Contract Covering Loan of Flying Fortresses to Swedish Government” is no longer pertinent.

On behalf of the Legation’s Military Air Attaché, General Kessler, who in a letter from General Anderson, dated January 15, 194592 and in a MilID93 telegram, dated February 22, 1945,94 from General Giles95 signed by General Bissel,96 had been authorized to give to the Swedish Government up to twenty of the American interned aircraft in [Page 763]Sweden, I offered in a letter to the Royal Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Günther, the nine aircraft mentioned above as a gift to the Swedish Government. A copy of this letter, dated April 24, 1945 is enclosed herewith, as well as paraphrases of General Kessler’s telegram to the United States Military Intelligence Division in Washington, dated February 21, and of the reply thereto, dated February 22, referred to above.97 It will be noted that in this reply it was stated that the offer to the Swedish Government of the aircraft had been concurred in by the Department of State.

Replying on behalf of the Foreign Minister, the Secretary General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Assarsson, requested that there be conveyed to the competent military authorities of the United States, an expression “of the sincere gratitude of the Swedish Government for this generous gift”, which it accepted with the greatest satisfaction. He added that the United States Government would be relieved of all responsibility for the payment of any Swedish customs duties or any other possible charges that might be levied on the aircraft concerned. He also expressed the belief that these aircraft would prove to be of very great importance for the future development of Swedish civil aviation. A copy of his letter, dated April 27, 1945, is enclosed.98

General Kessler, as stated above, was originally authorized to offer up to twenty of the American bomber aircraft interned in Sweden in return for the release of the remainder. Since, however, it was thought undesirable to place the release of the interned aircraft on a barter basis, it was decided that if and after the Swedish Government did consent to the release, the nine Fortresses lent to the Swedish Government for use as civilian carriers could then be offered the latter as a gift without reference, however, to the internment question. This release was subsequently effected, and it was therefore considered that the appropriate moment for making the offer in question had arrived.

Respectfully yours,

Herschel V. Johnson
  1. Not printed; it transmitted copy of a letter from the Secretary of War to the Secretary of State, dated May 4, 1945, suggesting that action regarding formalizing the terms under which B–17 aircraft had been loaned to the Swedish authorities be suspended until the manner of the final disposition of American aircraft in Sweden was clarified (811.79658/5–445).
  2. Not printed; it proposed that a contract be concluded with the Swedish authorities for the purpose of formalizing the terms under which nine B–17 aircraft had been loaned to Sweden (811.79658/1–2945).
  3. Not found in Department files.
  4. Military Intelligence Division.
  5. Not printed.
  6. Lt. Gen. Barney M. Giles, Deputy Commander of the Army Air Forces and Chief of Air Staff.
  7. Maj. Gen. Clayton Bissel, Assistant Chief of Staff, G–2 (Military Intelligence) of the War Department General Staff.
  8. None printed.
  9. Not printed.