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
Dispatched to: Cmr. Stalin, Cmr. Voroshilov, Cmr. Mikoyan, Cmr. Kaganovich, Cmr. Potyomkin, Cmr. Dekanozov, Cmr. Lozovsky, Cmr. Shkvartsev
On January 7, 1940.
Schulenburg presented the following questions:
1. About the mutual exchange of consular representatives. The German government, on the basis of economic interests, would wish to have a consulate in Leningrad, Odessa, Batumi, Vladivostok, Lwow.
Comrade Molotov replied that the wish of the German government about establishment of a number of new consulates in the USSR is acceptable and will soon be answered regarding the sites for setting up of the German consulates, and likewise the German cities in which the USSR wishes to establish Soviet consulates will be named.
2. Schulenburg requests, if it is possible, to instruct military authorities not to bomb from air the pulp mill, belonging to Germany on the bank of Lake Ladoga, which already twice have underwent bombing [Waldhof pulp mill in Käkisalmi/Kexholm].
3. In the Far East, especially in Japanese ports, a lot of German steamers have gotten stuck. On October 11, 1939 at People's Commissariat for Merchant Fleet (Narkommorflot) was raised a question about the possibility to use of the Northern sea route for these steamers during the 1940 navigation period. This question was promised to investigate. However no answer has been received up to this moment. Schulenburg asks Comrade Molotov's assistance.
Comrade Molotov promises to show interest in this question.
4. Schulenburg states that there are big differences of opinion between Comrade Mikoyan and the German trading delegation concerning balancing the trade. Comrade Mikoyan demands the trade to be balanced by the end of 1940; the German side asks to take German deliveries at least till April 1, 1941 into account. Schulenburg notes that in the letters exchanged by Ribbentrop and Molotov, compensation for Soviet raw materials was envisaged during longer periods of time. In the spirit of these letters it would be possible, according to the Ambassador, to allow Germany even longer compensation periods than requested by the trade delegation. In view of the efforts required by Germany during the war with Poland, the Ambassador hopes that the Soviet government will consider it possible to fulfil these wishes of the German government, as Germany will not be able within one year to fulfil the corresponding Soviet orders for the value of the raw material deliveries from USSR. The objects to be delivered by Germany require a certain manufacturing time.
Comrade Molotov answers that it is now difficult to say anything definitely. To do that, it is necessary to know the objects which are to be delivered by Germany to USSR. When these objects are known, it will be easier to agree, because even the German side cannot indicate concretely where the difficulties in the trade balancing principle are laying. It might happen that there will be no difficulties in fulfilling our orders, as likewise concerns deliveries from USSR, in the one year period. Practically it seems, of course, that our products will be delivered slightly earlier. As is known they have already began. It is however necessary to stick to the balancing principle in accordance to mutual aid principle in the line of the Soviet-German economic relations, keeping in mind that we deliver to Germany some raw materials which are not excessive to us, which we do at the expense of our defense needs and economic plan.p>
Schulenburg agrees with arguments of Comrade Molotov that it is possible to return to this question after definition of the concrete objects of German deliveries and reports that Ritter has left for Berlin for approval of the list of these objects.
5. Schulenburg is interested in Comrade Molotov's opinion concerning the Swedish government's policy, in reference to the hostile statements of the Swedish press and individual Swedish circles. «Do your earlier words remain in force, - asks Schulenburg of Comrade Molotov, - that Sweden will hardly get involved in the conflict as she will suffer losses from it? This is more interesting to know as England seeks to expand the conflict».
Comrade Molotov answers that he intends to inform the Ambassador not only about Sweden's, but also Norway's behaviour. England aspires to push off Sweden as well as Norway from the position of neutrality. Therefore we have undertaken some steps. In particular, on January 5 our envoy in Stockholm Comrade Kollontay and on the night of January 5 the envoy in Oslo Comrade Plotnikov informed the Swedish and Norwegian governments that anti-Soviet behavior of the press, and also of a number of officials, the organization of an office for recruitment of "volunteers" and to supply of arms to Finland arms to be used against the USSR etc., do not comply with the policy of neutrality, as declared by the Swedish and Norwegian governments, but are actions directed against the USSR and can lead to complications in the relations between the USSR and these countries.
The answer received from the Norwegian government testifies, that Norway wants to remain in a position of neutrality. The same preliminary response was also provided by the Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs, though the final reply of the Swedish government is still lacking. «We, of course, - notices Comrade Molotov, - should treat these answers carefully. Let's look what comes later on».
Schulenburg remarks that in general the situation should be seen as still unclear. Then he says that he has information that the Finns are not sure how long they can hold on, and they are ready to begin negotiations «any day».
Comrade Molotov answers that the Finns were late with this readiness.
In conclusion Schulenburg once again emphasizes that England is looking for a pretext to expand the conflict.
To the question of Comrade Molotov, whether Germany has taken measures to strengthen her influence in Sweden, Schulenburg gave an affirmative answer, though in a quite indefinitive form.
Continuing the thought that England intends to expand the conflict, Schulenburg informs that there are rumours about creation of a large army in Syria, about threat against Baku, etc. Next Schulenburg stops on Iran and declares: there is an impression that the Shah is strongly dissatisfied with the USSR. The USSR allegedly approached him abruptly in economic matters, which can push him in the British direction. It is known that England has already met the shah, given him an opportunity to transfer money from English to US banks, despite of prohibited currency transfer.
Comrade Molotov answered that with Iran the question of the trade agreement is delayed more than a year by us We disagree on the net balance which obviously is not favorable to us. We have no intentions to press Iran economically. Now there are messages that Iran is ready to abandon the net balance, and this gives perspective to conclude the trading contract. On one of these days an Iranian trading delegation should arrive in to Moscow.
6. Schulenburg is interested why the Italian ambassador Rosso departed from Moscow. Rosso seems to have told Schulenburg that his departure was caused by summoning back to Moscow the newly appointed Soviet envoy in Rome.
Comrade Molotov answers that in Rome at the same time an intolerant attitude towards the plenipotentiary representation was created and we called the envoy personally to report about the situation. Rosso's response, whatever its causes were, does not disturb us.
Schulenburg remarks that the Soviet government did the right thing, since according to his information, the police in Rome behaved improperly with respect to the Soviet plenipotentiary representation. This was undoubtedly a mistake of the Italian authorities. «However this case, - continues Schulenburg, - is unpleasant as it shows USSR internationally in a negative light».
At this point the conversation ended.
At the conversation the German embassy Counsellor Hilger was present.
Conversation was written down by S. Kozyrev
An addition to conversation:
1. The German government asks about fuel supply to the German cruiser in Zapadnaya Litsa bay [*]. Schulenburg reminds that in its time Comrade Molotov expressed the consent to supply submarines there, but the need for this is passed. Schulenburg hopes that necessary assistance in supply of the cruiser will be provided.
Comrade Molotov gave an affirmative answer on this request.
2. Schulenburg reminds of the request to receive weather data of the Soviet vessel, which is sailing in a certain direction under the pretext of meeting the "Sedov" crew [**]. The German military attaché has supplied all necessary information to the USSR war department, however this question is not solved till this moment.
Comrade Molotov answers that he got the impression that the German embassy already ceased to be interested in this question, which impression the Soviet sailors also got, and at that time they were sceptically inclined to this action. They were doubtful, whether anything will come out of this.
Conversation was written down by S. Kozyrev
AVP Russian Federation, fond 06, opis 2, papka 14, delo 155, list 3-8.
Source: Ministry for Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation. Documents of foreign policy. 1940-June 22, 1941. XXIII:1. Nr. 8. Moscow: Mezhdunarodnye otnosheniya, 1995 (in Russian) . An assisted translation by Pauli Kruhse.
Notes: * Zapadnaya Lisa bay (guba) is on the Arctic coast, about 50 km west of the mouth of the fiord leading to Murmansk.
** Sedov, a Soviet icebreaker, was trapped by fast ice in 1937, converted to a scientific polar station, stuck and drifted in the thick polar ice, until finally freed, after an 812-day stay, on 18 January 1940.
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Finland in the Soviet foreign policy 1939-1940