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File No. 860d.48/83
The Minister in Sweden (Morris) to the Secretary of State

[Telegram]
STOCKHOLM, February 27, 1918, noon.

[Received 7.28 p. m.] 1579. Your 487, January 16,8 p. m. Two Finnish delegates called on British Minister and myself and said that Finnish Government had been conferring with Inter-Allied Supply Committee in London, which Committee was requiring guarantees before its food shipment. Finnish Government accepted control of food distribution but refused to curtail freedom of action for export of wood products. We suggested that Finnish Government should make some counterproposition as negotiations at present at a standstill, which proposition we would transmit to our Government.

Finnish Government is undoubtedly pro-German, and as Germany is only country that has helped it in its struggle, it is unwilling to bind itself to refuse all exports to Germany in case the latter should desire same. Finns claim starvation imminent, and if we refuse supplies they will address themselves to Germany, and thus be entirely on their side. If Germany unable to supply food they will starve, and blame will be placed on Allies by all Scandinavia, which might have bad effect on our post bellum situation in this part of the world.

It would seem as if Allied Governments must decide, therefore, whether it is worth their while for post bellum political and economic reasons to try and maintain a foothold in Finland, as the latter can apparently neither benefit nor harm us during the war, the compensation she can offer for the food in any event being small.

MORRIS

1

File No. 8600.48/164
The Minister in Sweden (Morris) to the Secretary of State 1

[Telegram]
STOCKHOLM, March 16, 1918, 6 p. m.

[Received March 16, 11.17 a. m.] 1707. Concerning the furnishing of cereals to Finland and the negotiations which took place at London between the British Government and representative of the Finnish Senate as summed up in a letter addressed to Doctor Holsti by the British Government on February 28, British Minister has been approached by representative of the Finnish Senate here to continue this discussion. Allied Ministry have considered this quite in the light of altered conditions created by publication of Finnish treaty with Germany and have examined the desirability of permitting exports of cereals or other commodities to Finland in return for: (1) return to Sweden of Russian goods in Finland; (2) release of British vessels in Finnish waters; (3) sale or charter to Allies of Russian vessels in Finnish waters.

* Copy to L. P. Sheldon, War Trade Board representative at London (see last paragraph).

Allied Ministers are of the opinion [1] that in view of control of Finnish commerce now obtained by Germany any arrangement is prima facie undesirable as it would presumably be made only with German consent and is therefore presumably in German interest; (2) that [as] the import of wheat which Germany has promised must be presumed to be sufficient to keep Finland from starvation, any import of cereals from the Allies would therefore possibly enable the creation of a reserve; (3) that as Germany may have great difficulty in carrying out her promise to supply cereals and import, the Allies would assist Germany in this respect.

The Finnish Government have asked permission to retain all Finnish transit goods in Sweden against the return of Russian transit goods in Finland. As we have no legal right to detain the goods in Sweden, or at any rate we are liable to be forced to release them and are having great difficulty in this respect, Allied Ministers are at once negotiating an arrangement on these lines. The matter is particularly urgent as information has been received that Russian goods at Torneå are already being conveyed to Scandinavia. We consider that we should at any rate obtain all the Russian goods at Torneå in exchange for Finnish goods in Sweden. Of the remaining goods in Finland only some 2,500 tons appear, from the particulars available, to be of any military importance. If it is necessary to give something extra, giving them comparatively small quantity of goods, we are opposed to cereal being shipped by the Allies to Finland for the purpose and deem it preferable to ask the Swedish Government to purchase these goods for sale to approved firms in Sweden upon such terms as to compensation as they can arrange with the Finnish Government. If the Swedish Government are obliged to give cereals at a rate not exceeding ton for ton, Allied Governments could undertake to replace later Swedish cereals so used. For the above objects therefore no shipment of cereals from the United States of America to Finland is necessary, and we consider for the reasons above stated that such a shipment in present circumstances is undesirable.

With regard to the British ships in Finland, British Minister is at once demanding a guarantee that they will be permitted to leave as soon as ice permits. If this request is refused we wish for your views as to the desirability of some bargain being made for their release, and for this purpose it is safe to permit some import to Finland of cereals or other goods from the Allies. We will be glad of

instructions as to the terms you would be prepared to offer the Finnish Government if release of ships is refused. We shall advise you of progress of the negotiations with Finnish reprezentatives as regards exchange of Russian goods for Finnish as stated above.

We consider that the question of the Russian ships should form the subject of separate negotiations for purchase or charter and should be glad of the views of the Chartering Committee in London on this head. Allied Ministers are sending similar telegrams to their Governments. Copy sent Sheldon.

MORRIS

File No. 8600.00/50
The Secretary of State to the Minister in Sweden (Morris)

[Telegram]

WASHINGTON, March 30, 1918, 5 p. m. 653. Your 1707 and 1688. Department has advised Finnish Commissioners here that it approves of initial shipment of 2,000 tons of foodstuffs for Finland. British Government does not object.

LANSING

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File No. 8600,48/84
The Minister in Sweden (Morris) to the Secretary of State

[Telegram]
STOCKHOLM, April 2, 1918, 6 p. m.

[Received April 3, 3.30 a. m.] 1813. Your 653. I beg to refer to my 1707 giving the views of myself and my colleagues on the question of the supplies of cereals to Finland. We are still unanimous in the opinion that giving cereal to Finland is directly helping the enemy. After the despatch of my telegram 1707, the Inter-Allied Committee in Stockholm interviewed delegates of the Finnish Government and informed them that in view of the new position in Finland, it seemed impossible for any export of cereals to Finland to be permitted. The Committee, however, inaugurated negotiations for the exchange of transit goods in Finland against Finnish transitory goods in Scandinavia, which has now resulted in a concrete proposal being put forward by the Finnish delegates on this basis. Not only with [would] a grant of cereals to Finland be directly inimical to our interests in general, but it must inevitably prejudice the negotiations for transit goods.

I strongly urge, therefore, that your decision be reconsidered and that the [shipment] of cereals be refused. My French, British, and

] Italian colleagues concur with me in the above, and our opinion is strengthened by report of the Allied military mission which has just returned to Sweden from General Mannerheim's quarters. The

· Latter not printed.

mission report that so far as they can see, the White Party of Finland is entirely under German influence and that they personally were insulted by Finnish officers with pro-German sympathies, although traveling with General Mannerheim's special passport.

There is, therefore, nothing to cause me to change the views expressed in my telegram 1707, which I trust will be given serious consideration.

MORRIS

File No. 8600.48/100a
The Assistant Secretary of State (Phillips) to the Chairman of the
War Trade Board (McCormick)

WASHINGTON, April 12, 1918. MY DEAR MR. McCORMICK: I enclose herewith copy of a telegram for the War Trade Board from the Embassy at London, No. 9448, dated April 11, 1918, 2 p. m.,' inquiring what may be the situation in

2 regard to sending foodstuffs to Finland.

The Finnish Food Commissioner, Doctor Ignatius, has been informed verbally that existing conditions in Finland do not, in the opinion of this Department, warrant the shipment of any grain or any other foodstuffs at present. Doctor Ignatius was informed of recent grave discourtesies to British and American officers on the part of the Finnish White Guard troops and the Acting Finnish Minister for Foreign Affairs, his attention was called to the presence of considerable bodies of German troops in Finnish territory, the negotiations of the Finnish White Guard authorities with Germany for supplies of food, restoration of order and the reported movement to cut the Murman Railway.

The Department will not fail to advise you of any change in the situation which may modify the attitude of this Government. I am [etc.]

WILLIAM PHILLIPS

File No. 8600.48/29
The Secretary of State to the Chargé in Great Britain (Laughlin)

[Telegram]

WASHINGTON, June 18, 1918, 3 p. m. 8296. Finnish representative in London has telegraphed to Doctor Ignatius, Commissioner of Finnish Senate, here, as follows:

Foreign Office negotiating Allies to send immediately Scandinavia 11,000 tons American grain to be distributed in Finland after German withdrawal. Saw today American representatives who request you repeat similar proposal. Swedish steamers likely obtainable.

11 * Not printed.

Please advise Department whether facts as stated. You may inform Foreign Office that this Government has not changed its views that no shipments of foodstuffs should be made available for distribution in Finland for the present.

LANSING

File No. 8600.48/34a
The Secretary of State to the Chargé in Great Britain (Laughlin)

[Telegram]

WASHINGTON, July 6, 1918," p. m. 78. This Department believes that the accumulation of food in Finland, the delivery of which would be contingent upon the Finnish people breaking with the Germans, is inadvisable and would seem to imply that this Government is interested in Finland only in so far as it will serve as a pawn in the game of war against the Central Powers. As the Finnish Government seems to have committed itself definitely to cooperate with Germany, and is furthermore insisting at this time in taking over Russian territory, this Government believes a clear decision should be reached to send no foodstuffs to Finland.

LANSING

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File No. 8600.48/98a
The Acting Secretary of State to the Minister in Sueden (Morris)

[Telegram]
WASHINGTON, July 12, 1918, 1, p. m.

my 936. Inform Finnish representatives that Doctor Ignatius, Food Commissioner of the Finnish Senate, has engaged passage and will sail from New York for Scandinavia the first week in August to return home unless instructed otherwise.

POLK

File No. 8600.48/19
The Swedish Legation to the Department of State 1

MEMORANDUM The altogether inadequate crop of last year in Finland, together with political developments during last winter and spring, has created a very serious food situation in that country and there is now real danger at hand of actual starvation amongst its people if a considerable importation of bread-cereals cannot be obtained.

Prompted by a feeling of solidarity based on common historical traditions and similar geographical and physical conditions, the Governments of the three Scandinavian countries have felt themselves compelled to seriously consider the desperate situation now

Similar notes of the same date were received from the Danish and Norwegian Legations. (File Nos. 860d.48/20, 21.)

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