780D.62/68: Telegram

The Minister in Finland (Schoenfeld) to the Secretary of State
 
 
Helsinki, September 11, 1940—noon
[Received September 12—8:40 a.m.]

404. I believe tentatively but increasingly that there has been a notable change for the better from the Finnish point of view in the official attitude of Germany with regard to this country which in its turn has been making discreet but persistent efforts in recent months to cultivate German good will. Though the conclusion at the end of June of the German-Finnish trade and clearing agreement may signify no more than the fact that the Germans are seeking to strengthen commercial relations with any country accessible to them there seem to be certain directions in which they have shown especially friendly interest in Finland. Among evidences of improvement in the German attitude is participation under personal auspices of the Reich's sports leader of a German team in athletic meet held here last week— and with Swedish and Finnish teams. Minister of Foreign Affairs told me yesterday that this participation was due to personal decision of Hitler. A new German commercial information office has just been opened in Helsinki. The German high command has issued an invitation to a Finnish military delegation which has been accepted to visit the western battlefields. Finnish industrial and business leaders who have visited Germany unanimously report very accommodating spirit in which they have been received both in official circles and at recent commercial fairs, and reciprocal German delegations of businessmen particularly in the timber and paper trades and particularly in mineral and metallurgical fields are increasing in number.

I learn from the Minister for Foreign Affairs that the impression above described is shared by the Finnish Government, I am informed by Finns recently in Germany that numerous small attentions shown them there reflect marked German sympathy which is sometimes regarded as the measure of increasing disapproval in Germany of Russian policy. Such expressions of sympathy by Germans, I am informed, are usually accompanied by the caution that as official policy in Germany is entirely dependent on the Führer personally it cannot be predicted.

For their part governmental and business leaders in this country appear to have suppressed the anti-German feeling which was so noticeable following the Russian-German agreement of last August and the Russian attack on Finland. They seem to be returning to a policy of cooperation with the Germans while at the same time hoping eventually to resume former close relations with the British from whom at the present they are cut off. There seems to be no disposition to take an unrealistic view of the necessity for cultivating political, economic and so-called cultural relations with the Soviet Union but in present circumstances I should say there is increasing hope which may not be unfounded that Germany may find it expedient not again to sacrifice Finnish interests to the Russians.

Schoenfeld


Source: Foreign relations of the United States. Diplomatic papers. 1940. Volume I. General. (ACTIVITIES OF THE SOVIET UNION IN  E A S T E R N  EUROPE, AND SOVIET RELATIONS WITH THE BELLIGERENT POWERS). Department of State, Historical Division, Bureau of Public Affairs, 1959. (University of Wisconsin Digital Collections)

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