Skip to comments.How Sweden aided Nazi-Germany
Posted on 10/05/2011 9:21:38 AM PDT by WesternCulture
The matter of Nazi-German troop transfer through Finland and Sweden during World War II remains one of the most controversial issues of Scandinavian history beside Finland's co-belligerence with Nazi Germany in the Continuation War, and the export of Swedish iron ore during World War II.
The Swedish concession to German demands during and after the German invasion of Norway in AprilJune, 1940, is often viewed as a significant breach with prior neutrality-policies, that were held in high regard in many smaller European nations. After they were publicly acknowledged, the Soviet Union immediately requested a similar but more far-reaching concession from Finland, which invited the Third Reich to trade similar transit rights through Finland in return for weaponry badly needed by the Finns. This was the first significant proof of a changed, more favorable, German policy vis-à-vis Finland, that ultimately would put Finland in a position of co-belligerence with Nazi Germany in the Continuation War against the Soviet Union (June 25, 1941 September 4, 1944).
German troops ran through Sweden After Denmark and Norway were invaded on April 9, 1940, Sweden and the other remaining Baltic Sea countries became enclosed by Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union, then on friendly terms with each other as formalized in the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact. The lengthy fighting in Norway resulted in intensified German demands for indirect support from Sweden, demands that Swedish diplomats were able to fend off by reminding the Germans of the Swedes' feeling of closeness to their Norwegian brethren. With the conclusion of hostilities in Norway this argument became untenable, forcing the Cabinet to give in to German pressure and allow continuous (unarmed) troop transports, via Swedish railroads, between Germany and Norway.
The extent of these transports was kept secret, although spreading rumors soon forced prime minister Per Albin Hansson to admit their existence. Officially the trains transported wounded soldiers and soldiers on leave (permittent-tåg), which would still have been in violation of Sweden's proclaimed neutrality.
In all, close to 100,000 railroad cars had transported 1,004,158 military personnel on leave to Germany and 1,037,158 to Norway through Sweden by the time the transit agreement was disbanded on 15 August 1943.
After the German invasion of the Soviet Union in early summer of 1941, Operation Barbarossa, the Germans on June 22 1941 asked Sweden for some military concessions. The Swedish government granted these requests for logistical support. The most controversial concession was the decision to allow the railway-transfer of the fully armed and combat-ready 163rd Infantry Division from Norway to Finland. In Sweden the political deliberations surrounding this decision have been called the "midsummer crisis". Research by Carl-Gustaf Scott argues however that there never was a "crisis", and that "the crisis was created in historical hindsight in order to protect the political legacy of the Social Democratic Party and its leader Per Albin Hansson."
Soviet troop transfers through Finland;
The Moscow Peace Treaty that ended the Winter War in March 1940 required Finland to allow the Soviet Navy to establish a naval base on the Hanko Peninsula, at the entrance to the Gulf of Finland. The treaty didn't contain any provisions for troop and material transfer rights, and Finland's leadership was left with the impression that the Soviet Union would supply the base by sea.
On July 9, two days after Sweden had officially admitted to have granted transfer rights to Germany, Soviet Foreign Minister Molotov demanded free transfer rights through Finland, using Finnish Railways. In the ensuing negotiations the Finns were able to limit the number of Soviet trains simultaneously in Finland to three. An agreement was signed on September 6.
German troop transfers through Finland:
In the summer of 1940, Nazi Germany's occupation of Norway brought to the fore the need to transfer troops and munitions not only by sea, but also through the neutral countries of Sweden and Finland. The most convenient route to northernmost Norway was a rough truck road that passed through Finland. Diplomatic relations between Finland and the Third Reich improved after the Winter War, when Germany had sided with the Soviet Union, and on August 18 an agreement was reached that allowed Germany to set up supporting bases along the long Arctic truck road. The agreement was kept secret until the first German troops arrived in the port of Vaasa on September 21.
The German transfer rights were in breach of, if not the letter, then the spirit of the Russo-Finnish Moscow Peace Treaty, as well as the Russo-German Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, but the Finns greeted the agreement as a balance against the increasing pressure from the Soviet Union. The transit road through northern Finland had a significant symbolic value, but in transit volume it was of lesser significance until the run up to Operation Barbarossa, when the route was used to deploy five Wehrmacht divisions in northern Finland.
Did any partisans operate against the Germans during the war?
Germany was also dependent upon Swedish metal ore from mines in northern Sweden.
Not new news...
The Swedish pretense of neutrality in WW2 was utterly self-serving and immoral. And I’m of Swedish descent.
Why immoral? Because they allowed other nations’ blood to be shed to save them from subjugation.
And we’ve been learning they weren’t so neutral after all.
“Did any partisans operate against the Germans during the war?”
- Yes indeed.
Especially in Denmark there was fierce resistence to the Nazis.
Nazi soldiers recieved shots to their heads pounding the streets of Danish cities. Especially at the end of the occupation.
This is not exactly someting we Scandinavians feel proud over.
We consider Germans our brothers and sisters.
But war is war.
“Not new news...”
It’s called history.
In what way did Sweden act immorally during WWII?
Yes, we traded with the Nazis. But we also did trade with Britain.
If you fail to stand up against a tyrant, don’t blame somebody else for it.
Sweden also provided sanctuary after the war to many Nazis. They integrated easily into Sweden’s business and social life.
“Sweden also provided sanctuary after the war to many Nazis.”
- Please give one example of a Nazi German being successful in Swedish academic life or the Swedish business community after the year of 1945.
This all happened a lifetime ago, and the responsible people were probably all dead by 1975. The history may be interesting, but indignation is probably a waste of time at this late date.
“The history may be interesting, but indignation is probably a waste of time at this late date.”
- So, in conclusion, we Swedes simply should put up with the weird accusations, defamation and lies coming from the Anglosaxon world?
No sir, we’re not about that.
Let’s settle issues instead.
“The Swedish pretense of neutrality in WW2 was utterly self-serving and immoral. And Im of Swedish descent.
Why immoral? Because they allowed other nations blood to be shed to save them from subjugation.”
the same can be said for ireland during ww2.
I imagine that if the Swedes had refused to aid Germany, the latter would have simply gone in and taken what they wanted.
Sweden's Refusal to Prosecute Nazi War Criminals: 1986-2002., Efraim Zuroff, Jewish Political Studies Review 14:3-4 (Fall 2002).
(Abstract) "Toward the end of World War II, an unspecified number of Latvian and Estonian Nazi war criminals escaped to Sweden among a wave of Baltic refugees fleeing the advancing Soviet Army. Although the Swedish government established a special commission to investigate their wartime activities, no legal action was ever taken against any of these escaped Holocaust perpetrators.
"In 1986, the Simon Wiesenthal Center exposed the presence in Sweden of several Baltic Nazi war criminals and asked the Swedish government to investigate the entry of Nazi collaborators into the country and to take legal action against those who could be brought to trial. The Swedish authorities refused to investigate, let alone prosecute these cases, citing the existing statute of limitations which prohibited the prosecution of any crimes more than 25 years after they were committed.
"This has remained the position of the Swedish government even after it was revealed in 2000 that those who had participated in Nazi atrocities were alive and living in Sweden. All the efforts to induce a change in Swedish policy on this issue have hereto failed. Sweden is currently weighing the abolition of the statute of limitations on genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes but will not do so retroactively, so there is no chance that any Nazi war criminal will ever be prosecuted in Sweden."
The text of the article includes the following names and details as to Nazis who found safe refuge in Sweden:
"During the fall of 1986, the [Wissenthal] Center obtained information on twenty-one Latvian and Estonian suspected Nazi war criminals who had escaped to Sweden after World War II and were thought to still be residing in that country. The individuals in question ranged from national leaders who actively collaborated with the Nazis on a variety of key issues including security affairs and/or the murder of the Jews, to local officials who assisted the Nazi regime and participated in measures against the Jewish population in a specific geographic area, to journalists who worked for collaborationist newspapers. Among the most prominent Latvian collaborators were: Aleksanders Plesners who headed the Latvian SS-Legion; Karlis Lobe who organized the Latvian police battalions in Riga and later served as chief of police in Ventspils; Arvids Ose who was actively involved in the persecution of Jews in Riga and Alfreds Vadzemnieks who headed the Latvian Security Service (SD) in the Ventspils district and was alleged to have participated in the murder of civilians. Among the Estonians the most important suspects were Oskar Angelus, who headed the Estonian Department of Internal Affairs and organized the Estonian Political Police which carried out the murder of Estonian Jewry, Hugo Okasmaa and Leonid Laid who both served as officers in the Political Police in the Tallinn-Harju Prefecture and Vladimir Tiit and Arkadi Visnapuu who served as officers of the Estonian Security Police."
Eventually, a Swedish investigative reporter picked up the issue:
" . . . new revelations regarding Nazi war criminals in Sweden finally forced the Swedish government to reexamine its position. The man behind the expose was a Swedish journalist named Bosse Schon who revealed that at least 260 Swedes had served in the Waffen SS, among them several who, late in the war, guarded Hitler in his bunker in Berlin and at least one (Harald Sundin), who served in Treblinka, participated in executions and was still alive and living in Sweden. The information which Schoen published in a book entitled Svenskarna Som Stred For Hitler (Swedes Who Fought for Hitler) also served as the basis for a three-part documentary film by the same name (produced by Rolf Wrangnert) which was broadcast on Sweden's TV4 in late December 1999 and led to a serious political furor."
In the end, the Swedish government did nothing and, in the sole company of Syria, was rated F by the Wiesenthal Center for its failure to take any action against Nazi fugitives.
“I imagine that if the Swedes had refused to aid Germany, the latter would have simply gone in and taken what they wanted.”
Maybe Germany got the best option for their needs, and Sweden got the best option for their needs.
We need to recall the majority sentiment in the US was to avoid going back over to Europe, so it doesn’t trouble me the Swedes sought to avoid conflict, too.
At least the Finns had a good excuse.
Yes on both counts. As long as the Swedish gov. didn’t go along with murdering civilians, etc., I can understand their not wanting their country destroyed needlessly. I don’t know much about this aspect of WWII history, so I’m hedging my comments.
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