Manuscripts/Mixed Material Interview with George L. West
I was not too anxious to go back. I was somewhat involved. I was way up in the north, at Sieliensborg for Christmas, Lucia and all the rest of them.
McClintock sent me the Finnish paper, the Helsinkisanomat, with the announcement of my assignment there. This is rather a good story, because they had this article, all in Finnish, that this was the final insult of sending an officer, even more junior than McClintock, to be the Charg�. The article was in Finnish, but broke into English when it quoted from my biography: “Appointed Foreign Service officer unqualified.” Instead of “unclassified.” You went in as Unclassified C in those days, Vice Consul and Third Secretary. The editor, old Aerko (we used to go in the Soundov with him), was a good friend of mine. McClintock took great delight in underscoring this in red and sending it to me.
At any rate, I dodged it, and they sent Ed Gullion from London. He arrived in Stockholm more dead than alive. I guess he hated my guts, because he'd had a great setup, both professionally and personally, in London. He went on... I mention his name because later on he did break relations. (I guess it was in the summer of '44.) And he, in turn, was transferred to Stockholm.
Q: Well, what was the attitude of the Swedes towards the United States, and how did we deal with them while you were there?
WEST: Depends on the time and place. Sweden, when we first arrived, made a fetish out of their neutrality. They were not too friendly. There were some who were fine, but others, no.
Q: The war was going well for Germany at that time.
WEST: That's right, that's right. On the other hand, you get into the south of Sweden, where the nearer to Germany you were the more pro-Axis they seemed to be.
You go over to the west coast, Goteborg, and we were shipping ball bearings out of there every other night to England.
I wasn't personally concerned. In fact I did get down to Malmo once, just to do the pouch for our Consul down there.
But then, after the landings, it got considerably better. A lot of our aviators were force-landed in Sweden, as were a certain number of Germans. For awhile, the Swedes were releasing one-against-one. Then we were allowed to build up a credit as things got better.
In early '45 when they called for the U.N. organizing conference, first McClintock was assigned back to the department to go to the U.N. conference in San Francisco, then I was.