In the preliminary debate on Jan. 17, 1940, in the First Chamber of the Swedish Parliament Foreign Minister Günther made the following remarks:
Mr. Chairman! As now in certain directions, latest by Mr. Sandler, the goverment has been reprimanded for showing a limited understanding on some forms of the Swedish aid to Finland - mainly I mean the volunteer movement - it should be said that if this is seek rebukes for slack of interest in the Finland help itself, there must be some sort of a misunderstanding in the matter itself. If anything, this is the matter in which the whole Swedish people is unanimous, and a natural consequence is that we should do everything to assist the Finnish people. This is so obvious and also otherwise so natural that it were meaningless to want to hide it or to tell something else, to us ourselves or elsewhere. In our reply to Russian protests we saw that we should say loud and clear that this is the only possible starting point to make our position clear in the Finnish-Russian conflict. But it is also self-evident that in a question of life and death a unanimous opinion must also be found within the present government, a government of national coalition. This sort of Swedish attitude towards Finland has also to be the matter-of-fact mainline of government's policy, and from this it follows that if there are circles where they have another idea on helping Finland than the government has, it is only because the same thing adopts a different outlook when seen in some other connection. "Finland's best is our common cause" ("Finlands sak är vår") - this slogan we meet daily and it evokes response in every Swedish heart. There is no need to try to find reasons why this is so. It is so clear and lucid for all of us, this is how it should be and the future of Sweden also depends in the greatest extent on the destiny of Finland. For the Swedish foreign policy this way of thinking, this conviction must be a guiding star that should not be allowed to vanish from sight.
But it is not possible to follow a straight course with this single beacon. Presently two wars rage in Europe with one having no less dangers than another. Naturally, we have been extremely occupied by the matters taking place in Finland and lost sensitivity to what happens in connection with the great power war. It might have seemed like nothing had happened - but this does not hold the whole truth, much has happened, especially in the last few weeks. First of all, the atmosphere has charged to the utmost. Neutral states have felt this in many ways, and one cannot see any prospects for any alleviation in the nearest future. On the contrary, we have to prepare to meet times of increasing hardships. Ever increasing tension that becomes more and more apparent and can be expected to be continued, does not only add difficulties to our legitimized commerce, but to the political course of our country, too.
One cannot deny, and there is no need to deny that the frozen positions in the Western front have given reasons to misgivings that so called centrifugal forces will gain momentum with an idea that the war theater should be expanded outside of these fortified areas and thus to countries which are neutral now. A situation like this demands our increased alertness at all directions.
But whatever tension that still can be created between the fronts of the warring parties, and within which Sweden and the neutral states can be said to be, will the staked line we have selected lie no less clear in front of us. With no need to rewrite it, the very word is so often repeated 'neutrality'. In this matter the Swedish public opinion should be as unanimous as it was with our posture on Finland. Neither outside our borders there should prevail no confusion about this but one can find no decrease in seeing daily our neutral position being questioned from one or another direction. Therefore we should day after day repeat that the Swedish government intends to keep to the strictest neutrality. It aims to reject all attempts to infringe our neutrality from outside, with threats, violence or otherwise, and has no intentions to leave this stand for speculations about some advantages, immediate ones or in an unspecified future.
It might seem unnecessary to point out this once again so strongly at the Swedish parliament, which finds nothing new in this and where no objections have been presented. I want to say it openly, when making this statement, that in the end it is not the parliament that should hear it, it is is the desire that this will be understood out in the world and especially in those circles where our political standpoint a short while ago was constantly subjected to all kinds of speculations. Now, in this situation, it is most urgent to be annouced in the Swedish parliament and with its assent.
When following neutrality, not neutrality idiocy, not a neutrality as a purpose itself but a highly rational neutrality found to be necessary to protect our independence, we also have another beacon that we also all the time have to keep in sight. The sunken rocks we this way try to be saved from are not less dangerous than the others. And therefore - if we come back to the subject of aid to Finland - it simply was not possible to do all we might have wanted to do to assist Finland, one had to stop for breath and weigh what really could be effectuated.
This applied also to the support that Finland was able to receive from other countries, as far as it concerned Sweden. But this should not refrain us from a real appreciation for the sympathy and material support that were shown to Finland all over the world. I want especially mention the strong indignation in the United States that the invasion on Finland created, and the extensive relief collected there for Finland. Also here we became assured of the support of the American people shown against use of violence towards friendly, neutral nations. We can rest assured that the highly developed sense of righteousness of the Americans will manifest itself also in the future and will particularly react strongly to infringements of the vital interests of neutral countries and their irrefutable and undisputable rights.
Mr. Chairman! I have not asked floor to make some deepgoing survey on foreign politics. The Prime Minister has already made the government's view on foreign policy clear. I only wanted in connection with some statements presented here in preliminary debate to underline a couple of points that I regard as the most important in our foreign policy today.
Finally, Mr. Chairman, may I present my pleasure in finding general acceptance of government's foreign policy and understanding the difficulties which now are expressed in this preliminary debate. When I heard Mr. Sandler's presentation, I thought a couple of times that now we have here a dissenting opinion. But at the end, I never really thought so, and when I later put together the impressions I got from his words, I was inclined to draw such an conclusion that he also supported the government's present policy. I hope I haven't misunderstood him. I expect increasing amount of difficulties in times to come, and the prerequisites, naturally, for the foreign policy leadership is that it can rely on the support and understanding of the Diet.
Source: Svensk utrikespolitik under andra världskriget. Internationell politik 24, skrifter utgivna av Utrikespolitiska institutet, Kooperativa förbundets bokförlag, Stockholm, 1946. (Swedish Foreign Policy under the Second World War, Stockholm, 1946). Translation: Pauli Kruhse
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