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FILE NO: OPD S36 Sweden (13 Jun 44)
SUBJECT: Swedish Release of British and Aaerioaa Airmen in Exchange for Fighter Aircraft
DATE: 1 July 1944
1. State Departmant memorandum, dated 13 June 1944, reported receipt of two messages from the American Minister at Stockholm, Sweden. The first of these messages reported the anxiety of Sweden to obtain fighter aircraft, Swedish authorities suggested that an arrangement be made whereby interned American air crew personnel be released in exchange for certain fighter aircraft, such as Mustangs. The other message referred to a similar proposal to exchange 50 interned British air crew personnel for 50 radar sets.
2. State Department; memorandum, dated 17 June 1944, reported receipt of two additional messages on the same subject. These messages reported an agreement had been made to release 76 British air crew personnel for 50 radar sets. The messages also reported that Boheman, Secretary General of Swedish Foreign Office, felt that the proposal on aircraft should be held in abeyance. The Minister explained that this change of Swedish position was due to anticipated difficulties in delivery. He asked for advice as to whether, in principle, the United States Government would be inclined to effect such an exchange as he believes Swedes would submit a concrete proposal if we indicated interest.
3. As of 30 June 1944 there were approximately 950 American air crew personnel interned in Sweden.
4. It is the view of the Commanding General, Army Air Forces that, while a proposal to exchange aircraft for men is most unpalatable, the release of these highly trained men is of utmost importance. Accordingly, he recommends that the War Department make concessions to accomplish this end. For this purpose, he is prepared to release 25 P-39 aircraft for delivery to the Swedish Government in the United Kingdom. The responsibility for transporting the aircraft from the United Kingdom to Sweden to rest entirely with Sweden.
5. Transmittal of the attached letter from the Secretary of War to the Secretary of State asking that the American Minister to Sweden be instructed to reopen the negotiations and advise Swedish authorities that if all American air crew personnel now interned in Sweden are released, we will make available for purchase by Sweden 26 P-39 aircraft now crated at Casablanca. These aircraft to be delivered to Swedish authorities at some point in the United Kingdom provided responsibility for their transport from the United Kingdom to Sweden rests entirely with Sweden.