740.0011 EW/4–1345: Telegram

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

1383. For Winant and Osborne. This afternoon Foreign Minister Günther requested Sir Victor Mallet81 and me to see him urgently. We went to the Foreign Office at 5 p.m. and Günther together with Boheman who accompanied him informed us of the Norwegian aide-mémoire dated April 12 referred to in Ambassador Osborne’s 50, April 12, 9 p.m., to Department, (repeated to Stockholm as London’s 307, April 12, 9 p.m.; 14 in Noweg series). Günther said he felt it important to advise United States and British Government of Swedish Government’s views on mémoire as developed in special Cabinet meeting convened today to consider Norwegian request. Reply will not be made by Swedish Government till Foreign Relations Committee of Riksdag has had an opportunity to examine request and give its views.

Our 795 repeats this to London. See my 1342, April 10, 8 p.m. (759 to London) and London’s Noweg 14, February 1, 7 p.m. (149 to Stockholm).

Swedish Government’s judgment on Norwegian request is based on information which Günther characterized as extremely reliable both from home front sources in Norway and from Swedish secret sources in Germany. This information coincides to effect that Swedish action suggested by Norwegian Government would be unwise at this time. Swedish Government thinks it of paramount importance both from Swedish and Norwegian points of view that Norway should be [Page 70] liberated without becoming theater of war and with as little destruction of country as possible. Swedish Government thinks there is every hope that if German resistance in Germany collapses, German forces in Norway will not resist and it is further of opinion that if total Swedish mobilization suggested by Norwegian Government should take place, the German forces now in Norway would in all probability take hostages and resort to various destructive measures. In Swedish view mobilization now would provoke the very conditions which it would be desired to prevent. Situation is not ripe for such action. Günther stated he has information on which his Government places reliance that Terboven,82 Gestapo83 and SS84 forces in Norway desire to continue the fight even after collapse of Germany and to stay in Norway as long as possible. Terboven in past week has carried on intensive propaganda in speeches and otherwise to this end. If Germans in Norway are attacked by Norwegians or seriously menaced, he will give orders for systematic destruction of a number of industrial plants about the importance of which he is fully informed. German Army and Navy chiefs on other hand do not desire to continue struggle after collapse of Germany but are too weak to refuse to obey order from High Command in Germany. Vast majority of rank and file of Wehrmacht85 do not desire to continue fight if they are not provoked. Swedish mobilization now in anticipation of immediate collapse in Germany would provoke Norwegian uprisings and would thereby play lukewarm Wehrmacht into hands of Terboven and Gestapo crowd who could overbear military chiefs. Nothing according to Günther would suit Gestapo and SS purposes better. Günther describes view of Norwegian Government to be that Swedish mobilization would so frighten Germans in Norway that they would give up on military collapse in Germany; that Foreign Minister Lie no more designs [desires?] fighting on Norwegian soil with further destruction of lives and property than does Norwegian Home Front.85a Suggestion for immediate Swedish mobilization is therefore in Swedish view a gamble.

Günther said he had earlier today expressed above views with complete frankness to Norwegian Minister Esmarch86 and that Esmarch had informed him his own information from home front sources in Norway ran parallel to Swedish information which is contrary to views held by Norwegian Government in London.

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Both Mallet and I expressed desire to have from Günther a statement of what Swedish reaction would be if, contrary to Swedish expectations, German military in Norway should put up stiff resistance after collapse of Germany, taking hostages, killing people and destroying property. Günther said that would, of course, create entirely new situation which he admitted would not exclude drastic Swedish action at later stage but he said Government would not commit itself on hypothetical basis.

Inasmuch as Norwegian note87 has been communicated for information to United States, British and Russian Governments, we gathered from Günther’s remarks that he contemplates giving statement of Swedish views also to USSR representative in Stockholm.

Günther in conclusion said he felt that careful reading of Norwegian note might convey suggestion to Allied Governments that some sort of secret understanding existed between Sweden and Norway regarding possible Swedish armed intervention, and that Mr. Lie’s note might be interpreted as having been based on such an understanding. He felt it necessary, therefore, to make it clear to British Minister and me that Sweden has no commitments with Norwegian Government for armed intervention. Boheman reiterated this remark saying that Mr. Lie may have erroneously given the contrary impression to Allied Governments. Günther’s statement in effect was flat denial of truth of statements made to me by Mr. Lie and reported in my top secret 4729, November 18, 8 p.m.88 Mallet seemed to have impression, as I had, that some sort of definite commitment existed between the two governments. I gather that Lie must have made remarks to him last November in same sense as information he gave me. Günther said he had told Norwegian Minister this a.m. of what he proposed to say to Mallet and me and stated in reply to suggestion from us that he had no objection to our discussing matter with Esmarch.

Mallet and Boheman both referred to conversation in London in February between latter and Sir Orme Sargent89 in which Boheman informed Sargent of Swedish reply to Norwegian démarche of February 1. Mallet agreed with Boheman’s statement that British at that time had expressed themselves as opposed to Swedish military intervention on practical grounds.

  1. British Minister in Sweden.
  2. Josef Terboven, German Reichskommissar for Norway.
  3. Geheime Staats Polizei (German Secret State Police).
  4. Schutzstaffel, elite corps of the Nazi Party, used for military and police purposes.
  5. German armed forces.
  6. Norwegian resistance movement.
  7. August Esmarch. For Boheman’s record of Günther’s conversation with Esmarch, see Förhandlingarna 1945 om Svensk Intervention i Norge och Danmark, pp. 1516.
  8. Apparent reference to the Norwegian aide-mémoire of April 12 to the Swedish Government; see telegram Noweg 50, April 12, 9 p.m., from the Ambassador to the Norwegian Government in Exile, p. 66, and footnote 78.
  9. See footnote 72, p. 64.
  10. British Deputy Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs.