Dear Baron Weizsäcker: Thank you very much for your kind letter of December 2. Thank you in particular for the understanding - I should almost like to say consoling - words which you find for the unpleasant position into which circumstances have forced me.
You write that now "disaster has descended upon my host country". That is only too true, and of course I have a strong personal sympathy for the people and things that I have come to know and to love. But my real concern is less for Finland than for Germany. I cannot avoid the impression that with the attack by the Russians on Finland a disaster is also descending upon Germany.
I gather from your telegraphic instruction No. 442 of December 5 that any participation in attempts at a settlement, which I suggested in my telegram No. 388 of the same day, is now out of the
question. And thus the current of events must flow on freely, without dam or dike.
For someone who has had an opportunity here to observe the resolute unanimity of this nation, which, though small, is tenacious, hardened by sports, and militarily proficient, for someone who knows the country with its swamps, lakes, cliffs, forests, and harsh climate, it is difficult to believe that the Russians will have an easy time of it. On the contrary, the war may last a long time, may bring the Russians many a defeat and must cause them severe losses.
The war will probably take the following course : The Russians, because of the inaccessibility of the Finnish coast, will forego any landing attempt and will employ their land forces at the Karelian
Isthmus and north of Lake Ladoga, where they will be forced to fight for every foot of ground. At the same time they will try to destroy cities, factories, railroads, and bridges by air raids on a very
large scale, in order to crush the resistance of the Finnish people. Since the cities and large factories have been evacuated, the Russians will cause only property damage by this action. Within a matter of a few months this flourishing country, which in the twenty years of its independence has doubled its agricultural production and tripled its industrial production, will be transformed into a heap of rubble.
This will not mean the defeat of the people, for all elements are willing to return to the most primitive conditions and continue their fight for freedom. But for us this means that Finland is eliminated as a supplier of very important raw materials for the war copper, molybdenum, and possibly later nickel and iron and also animal foods, especially fish from the Arctic Ocean. Herr van Scherpenberg can tell you in detail what this means to us.
Furthermore, the only sea on which our ships have heretofore been able to carry on trade and commerce as in peace time will become a theater of operations with the danger of mines and all other
And finally it can in no wise be predicted how far the conflagration in the North will extend now that Russia has hurled the torch of war into Finnish territory. Questions such as the ore supply from Sweden arise inevitably.
In summary I should like to say that Russia, which has nothing whatever to lose in Finland or the rest of the North, is paying for her present course out of Germany's pocket. The Russian action
is costing Germany:
1. Paralysis of shipping traffic to Finland;
2. Cessation of trade with Finland;
3. Evacuation of the entire German element and squandering of the assets that the Germans have created by decades of work;
4. Danger of paralysis of all Baltic Sea commerce and of extension of the war to the rest of the North.
In closing I do not need to assure you that I am keeping strictly to the instructions given me in all conversations with third parties, but with my superiors I consider it my duty to express the thoughts which, arise from the perspective of my post.
If I might ask a favor, I should appreciate your informing Herr von Grundherr of this letter.
Thank you once more for your friendly lines. I kiss the Baroness's hand; all best wishes, especially for your sons with the Armed Forces.
Source: Documents on German foreign policy 1918-1945. Series D. Volume VIII. No. 426. Washington, Department of State, publication 5436, 1954.