The foreign minister Günther discussed in a speech at the Swedish Press Club, on 16 March, 1940, the situation into which Sweden was driven as a result of the war in Finland.
He expressed that the Russian ocean of peoples has, once again, heaved against the eastern rim of the North and teared to itself a piece of land off there. From the Swedish point of view a special attention should be given to the forward pushed boundary at Salla and the planned railway.
On the western side two allied great powers have loudly expressed Sweden their displeasure. Although the foreign minister did not hesitate in feeling justified sympathy for Finland in these countries, he underlined that the very thoughts about coming to in her rescue had opened the Allies prospects, which had especially pleased the French people. The stagnant situation had lost popularity, and the newspapers openly discussed about a search for a new battleground. Moreover, moving the war to Scandinavia had offered an opportunity to cut off the export of ore to Germany. Also in England the sea run high but one can notice that the British people has shown great understanding of the specific difficulties of the Nordic countries. The foreign minister pointed out that what he said about their wishes in connection with the war in Finland is not to be regarded as a sort of complaint against the Western Powers.
When going on in his presentation the foreign minister shed some new information over what happened on the Swedish side in the mediation process.
On the 29th of January the Russians informed in a note that in their principles there is nothing to hinder in coming to an agreement with Ryti-Tanner government. This government should, however, come forward with a proposal for the basis of negotiations, and but for becoming acceptable, it must contain all their claims from autumn, and in addition to this, the Russians now demanded supplementary guarantees.
Up till now everybody in this country had believed that the fight concerned the very existence of present Finland. The Kuusinen government was recognized as the only legitimate government of Finland. A possibility that the Swedish government had refused to forward the Russian note to Finland is so absurd that I guess no one will argue about this. In the Finnish reply it was suggested that the negotiations would be resumed on the basis that the Finnish side had proposed before the war broke out. The Russians responded that they cannot accept it. But bit by bit the Soviet government, however, came forward with more particularized claims.
With this proposal the Finns leaved for Moscow, and what then happened has nothing to do with the Swedish government. In these talks, the Swedish government did not fail to bring to the Russian government's knowledge that they venture the Swedish intervention in case of not coming to an agreement.
The Foreign minister then touched the question about a direct Swedish intervention. It is said that the reason for the repudiating stand the government had adopted, was interference from the German side but simultaneously there has been aired doubts about a real German intervention even if the Swedish army had been sent to Finland. As to this it is sufficient to state definitely that the Swedish government was convinced that apperance of troops from Western Powers would have brought the war to Sweden and thus subjected our people to war. Germany could have not watched in full calm the accumulation of British and French troops in the Northern countries, cutting off the ore transport and preparing of an offensive against Germany. One can on these days easily see how enormous interest especially France allotted to an opportunity of a Northern front against Germany. If Sweden and Finland had waged their common war, these countries would, to procure war-time necessities and other material, would have become dependent on Western Powers and, surely, soon needed their direct help.
Giving the Western Power troops a permit to cross Sweden on their way to Finland would have caused, clearly even sooner, the same effect.
The Foreign Minister then touched the question of a defence alliance between the Nordic countries, or more specifically, between Sweden, Norway and Finland. [The Finnish Foreign minister] Tanner had made an inquiry concerning this to Swedish and Norwegian governments and after they said yes to the suggestion of assessing its prerequisites, it was agreed that will be made public first on the Finnish side and that he, in Helsinki, will decide the time for this.
It is clear that the question of a defence alliance is an utterly complicated matter that should be closely examined in its form, contents and scope. As to Sweden, the promised assessment has, incidentally, already began.
[Newspaper report in] "Social-Demokraten"
Source: Svensk utrikespolitik under andra världskriget. Internationell politik 24, skrifter utgivna av Utrikespolitiska institutet, Kooperativa förbundets bokförlag, Stockholm, 1946. (Swedish Foreign Policy under the Second World War, Stockholm, 1946). Translation: Pauli Kruhse
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