740.0011 E.W./4–1745

Memorandum of Conversation, by the Chief of the Division of Northern European Affairs (Cumming)

Participants: Mr. Roger Makins, Counselor of British Embassy
Hugh S. Cumming, Jr., Chief, Division of Northern European Affairs
William C. Trimble, Assistant Chief, Division of Northern European Affairs

Mr. Makins called at the Department at Mr. Hickerson’s request to discuss the possibility of Swedish military intervention in Norway. I informed Mr. Makins that Mr. Hickerson would be unable to be present but that I had discussed the subject with him in a preliminary fashion yesterday and that I thought the views which I would express to him coincide with those of Mr. Hickerson.

I told Mr. Makins that, in our opinion, the question of Swedish intervention in Norway was ninety-five percent military and therefore must be decided on military rather than political grounds. It would, I thought, be very difficult to secure a formal declaration-of-war by Sweden, and an approach to the Swedes along these lines might get their backs up. It was, however, in Sweden’s interest as well as our own that law and order be maintained in Norway and, hence, I felt that the Swedes have undoubtedly made extensive plans looking toward some form of intervention in Norway should disturbances develop. The Swedes will probably seek to maintain law and order until such a time as the Norwegians could take over.

Should we desire Sweden to intervene, I suggested that a frank approach be made to the Swedes asking them for information concerning plans they may have made and the extent to which they would be willing to undertake to police Norway to save that country from destruction. I added that it would probably be necessary to clarify the position of the Soviets.

Mr. Makins fully concurred in my views. I suggested, following Mr. Hickerson’s views, that since the matter had been brought to the attention of the President by Mr. Eden, it would be advisable for the British Joint Chiefs to introduce a paper on the subject to the Combined Chiefs. The matter would then come before the U.S. Joint [Page 76] Chiefs of Staff who would undoubtedly consult the State Department with respect to political angles. Mr. Makins said that this was already being done and that he believed the views of the British military would be submitted to the Combined Chiefs by this evening.

Hugh S. Cumming, Jr.