RECORD OF THE CONVERSATION OF THE PEOPLE'S COMMISSAR FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS OF THE USSR V.M. MOLOTOV WITH THE AMBASSADOR OF GERMANY IN THE USSR F. Schulenburg
December 4, 1939.
Schulenburg raised the following questions:
1. Some time ago, the German embassy received from the People's Commissariat for Foreign Affairs a note on the establishment of a restricted zone dangerous for navigation in the Kola Bay. The ambassador would like to know whether this event will affect the export of the apatites purchased by Germany, which are supposed to be sent through Murmansk. Schulenburg asks if it will be possible to provide special German shipments using pilots, or to find other ways out of this situation.
Tov. Molotov noted that, in his opinion, one could find a way out that was practically acceptable to both sides, and promised to find out the question posed and give an answer.
2. Schulenburg says that the Soviet government is probably noticing how difficult it is for the Germans to carry out air raids on England. The raids so far were made only from the east and on the east coast of England. The abstention from raids on England from the west is explained by the lack of information about the weather in this part of the Atlantic Ocean (near the British Isles) among the Germans. The presence of the mentioned information would greatly facilitate the organization of raids from the west.
Schulenburg raises the question whether the Soviet Government can render assistance to Germany in obtaining reliable information about the weather in this region of the Atlantic Ocean. Practically this assistance is thought to be organized as follows:
The Soviet government will send an appropriate vessel to the Atlantic, which will cruise 150-300 miles from the west coast of England and regularly broadcast the necessary weather information on the radio. The ship could be sent under the pretext of organizing work to rescue the icebreaker Sedov, which, according to the calculations of the Germans, in 5-6 weeks will leave the ice area at about the specified location. It is also possible to refer to the great practical and scientific interest of long time observations of Golf Stream.
It is desirable that the ship be cruised for about two months.
Schulenburg, stressing the importance of the issue for the German government and the haste in resolving it, said that the German government naturally assumes all the costs of sending the said vessel.
Tov. Molotov remarked that cruising our ship in this place for two months would undoubtedly be revealing, and the British might simply sink it.
He promised to consider and discuss the proposal made and its practical feasibility.
Schulenburg thanked Comrade Molotov and said that he did not count on more than a discussion of the project which was put forward by him.
3. Further, Schulenburg said that the German government was greatly interested in the situation in Finland. He asks to give him information about the negotiations with Sweden, in connection with the mediation of the latter, and how the development of events in Finland will go further.
Comr. Molotov replied that the Swedish envoy was indeed with him and conveyed a note in which the proposal of the so-called Finnish government was to begin negotiations with the Soviet government with a purpose to reach an agreement between the USSR and Finland.
I answered him, says Comrade Molotov, that since the USSR does not recognize this so-called government but recognizes only the People's government, the question of opening these negotiations disappears. We have an agreement on mutual assistance with the People's government and do not consider ourselves to be in a state of war with Finland. We will give the same answer to the League of Nations, whose Council meeting on the Finnish issue is scheduled for December 9, and the Assembly for December 11. And in the future, the USSR will deal only with the government that it recognizes, that is, with the People's government. For the same reason, there is no need for Sweden to represent the interests of Finland after the former Finnish Legation left Moscow, as the Swedish government had previously reported to us.
Schulenburg remarks that although there is no war, there will probably be military operations.
Comr. Molotov confirmed that, of course, military operations would take place in view of the assistance provided by the Red Army to the People's government of Finland. Despite the adverse climatic conditions and inconveniences in the area, our units are systematically and, as we believe, fairly quickly moving forward. A set of English mines is secretly set by the White Finns in various places, which complicates our advance .
Comr. Molotov in turn asked the ambassador about the reasons for the lull on the western front and weakening of air raids on England.
Schulenburg replied that lately there has been disgusting weather in the west, which has hampered any vigorous aviation activity. He further hinted that serious actions were being prepared against England, in connection with the question that was raised earlier to the Soviet Government about sending the previously mentioned vessel.
The conversation was attended by the adviser of the German embassy, Mr. Hilger.
Interview recorded by A. Sobolev
Foreign Policy Archive RF, f. 06, op. 1, p. 1, d. 4, l. 92—95.
Source: Russian Federation Foreign Ministry. Foreign Policy documents. 1939. XXII:2. Nr. 834.
Moscow: International relations, 1992. Computer assisted draft translation by Pauli Kruhse.
Finland in the
Soviet foreign policy 1939-1940