Finns may lost backing of U.S. (11-4-41)

The Pittsburgh Press (November 4, 1941)

Finns may lost backing of U.S.

Further action likely in Robin Moor case

Washington, Nov. 4 (UP) –
Diplomats today anticipated an early cooling in the traditionally-friendly relations between the United States and Finland and, possibly, further retaliatory action against Germany for its refusal to acknowledge this country’s claim for damages sustained in the sinking of the American merchantman Robin Moor.

Speculation was inspired by two State Department announcements:

  1. Secretary of State Cordell Hull, summarizing United States attitude toward Finland, made clear that, unless an early peace is made with the Soviet Union, that nation may lose American friendship.

  2. The department made public an exchange of notes with Hans Thomsen, German Chargé d’Affaires, in which Berlin declined even to acknowledge a note asking $2,967,092 for damages sustained by Americans in the Robin Moor sinking, May 21.

A Nazi spokesman in Berlin railed at the U.S. demand for peace today. He said the move was inspired by the “Washington ghetto gangster.”

Mr. Hull’s statement aroused non-interventionist senators. Senator Bennett C. Clark (D-MO) described his warning to Finland “a perfectly disgraceful thing” and added that “the people who are now making bundles for Britain are those that made bundles for Finland” during the 1939 Finnish-Soviet War.

Senator Gerald P. Nye (R-ND) said it was:

…a terrible reflection on our diplomacy and American thinking.

Mr. Hull’s statement on Finland amounted practically to an ultimatum that Finland abandon her military activities against the Soviets. It revealed officially for the first time that in August the United States had sought to bring about a peace which would give Finland substantial territorial gains. The offer was never acknowledged.

In substance, Mr. Hull called on Finland to stop hostilities and call her Army home. Just now that Army has pushed far into Russian territory. At points, it commands the Murmansk-Leningrad rail line over which Allied and U.S. war supplies might move to the Soviets. Murmansk is an all-year port while the alternative route, through Arkhangelsk, calls for strenuous and an all-but-impossible struggle with ice in winter.

For this reason, it was believed that German pressure on Finland to remain in the fight would outweigh anything the U.S. might offer.

Pressure of troops

Military observers felt that German military might would not be the deciding factor in determining Finland’s reaction to the American demands. Best available reports indicate that only one division – about 15,000 – German troops are in Finland. A more likely deterrent, it was said, was the danger of a Nazi coup within the country in event peace with the Soviets were made.

U.S. aid to Finland is nil. The British blockade prevents that country from receiving food and other supplies although a substantial loan was once made available. A peace with the Soviets would make these funds again accessible.

If the peace is rejected and Britain declares war on Finland, as Russia wishes, the United States presumably would cancel the loan and class Finland with the aggressor nations.

Speculation aroused

The Robin Moor correspondence aroused keen speculation also due to the fact that it terminated Sept. 26 and was withheld from the public until now. Some observers believed that this was done because the United States plans some new step against Germany.

The ship was sunk by a German submarine last spring but its passengers were saved after drifting for as long as three weeks in the South Atlantic.

The correspondence showed that:

  • On June 20, the then-Acting Secretary of State Sumner Welles gave Thomsen a copy of President Roosevelt’s message to Congress denouncing the Robin Moor sinking by a submarine in mid-ocean as an act of “piracy.”

  • On June 24, Thomsen informed Mr. Welles he would not even transmit the message to his government.

  • On Sept. 19, Mr. Hull offered to accept from Germany $2,967,092 in U.S. currency in full settlement of damages if tendered on Dec. 19.

  • On Sept. 28, Thomsen replied that Germany did not intend to make any reply to the claim note.

Diplomats said they believed the German action was without precedent and that, if Germany were intent on maintaining some semblance of diplomatic relations with this country, the note would have been answered, either with a rejection or a bare acknowledgement of receipt.

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Nazis rail at peace demand of U.S.

Berlin, Nov. 4 (UP) –
A Nazi spokesman today characterized the American suggestion that Finland make peace with Russia as:

…an arrogant demand by the Washington ghetto gangster.

The Nazi spokesman asserted that:

This is a piece of Jewish shamelessness that could hardly be exceeded.

He continued:

Europe’s answer will be that it refuses to let the Washington ghetto interfere in Europe and defame, bespoil and insult it according to its own filthy, immoral standards.

The Nazi spokesman said the Reich had been “compelled” to watch with “a bleeding heart” during the Finnish-Russian winter war because her preoccupation in the west prevented her from going to Finland’s aid.

Commenting on the Finnish official news agency’s statement regarding the American suggestion, the spokesman said:

It is refreshing and encouraging to read this courageous answer from a tiny people of 3.5 million to the arrogant demand from a country of 100 million with a gangster at its head.

The spokesman said he was confident the answer of the Finnish government would be “a fitting one.”

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