840.50 Recovery/1–1648: Telegram

The Ambassador in Sweden ( Matthews ) to the Secretary of State


68. At a reception for Governor Youngdahl of Minnesota this afternoon attended by most of the Swedish Cabinet the one topic of conversation was the statement concerning American military bases as quid pro quo for ERP aid attributed to Secretary Forrestal by Reuters (mytels 63, 64, 67).1 I assured the Prime Minister the Foreign Minister the Minister of Commerce and other prominent Swedes that the official report of Secretary Forrestal’s testimony received in our radio bulletin (No. 12)2 did not contain any reference whatsoever to the subject of possible American military bases in ERP countries though a full account of his testimony was contained therein. I said that whatever statement on the subject of bases may have been made in reply to questions from Congress I was confident of one thing: it would be contrary [Page 367] to the entire approach that Secretary Marshall had taken as well as to the approach of Congressional leaders and the several commissions appointed by the President to study the problem of ERP aid to seek military bases as compensation.

They were relieved to hear this and each one separately said that he had been shocked by the news report and found it difficult to believe that the two questions had been linked.

Of course I cannot judge the larger issues and the feelings of Congress from this distance. I can only say that as far as Sweden is concerned the Reuter dispatch has set us back some weeks at least in the results we are endeavoring by strenuous effort to obtain in stimulating greater Swedish interest in and support for ERP and a greater sense of urgency. (I believe these efforts were beginning to take effect: Swedish press has been carrying more favorable comment on ERP and four Cabinet Ministers including Erlander3 himself expressed interest in and approval of my chamber of commerce speech Wednesday on the subject). The Reuter dispatch will give the Communists a field day for some time to come. They will cite it as proof positive of all they have been saying as to the “real” purposes of the Marshall Plan.

Sent Department 68, repeated Paris 21, London 24, Copenhagen 8, Oslo 8.4

  1. Telegrams 63, 64 and 67 from Stockholm, January 16, 1948, not printed, contain press reports concerning the statement attributed to Secretary Forrestal (840.50 Recovery/1–1648).
  2. Department of State “Wireless Bulletin” January 15, 1948.
  3. Tage Erlander, Prime Minister of Sweden.
  4. In telegram 77 from Stockholm, July 19, 1948, not printed, Ambassador Matthews noted that a partially clarifying Reuters telegram was published in the Sunday papers, as were corrective stories. The Ambassador believed that some of the harmful effects of the original Reuters story had been overcome. (840.50 Recovery/1–1948)