|Full Name||Â||22 Kingdom of Sweden|
|Alliance||Â||Neutral or Non-Belligerent|
|Population in 1939||Â||6,341,000|
Contributor: C. Peter Chen
ww2dbaseEver since the Napoleonic Wars, Sweden had maintained its neutrality, and it attempted to do so from the onset of WW2. It was able to maintain its neutrality, but it was a difficult process. The first challenge came during the 1939 war between Finland and Russia, where Finland, which shared a bond with Sweden, pleaded for military assistance; 8,000 volunteers crossed the border to help Finland's defense, but the Swedish government officially did not become involved aside from sending food and clothing as humanitarian aid. The next challenge came in Apr 1940 when Germany invaded Norway; Sweden remained neutral, but as both neighbors became involved in war while Germany controlled the Baltic Sea, Sweden was virtually under a blockade and was unable to conduct business with any foreign nations except for Germany. Before the war, 24% of Sweden's exports went to Britain and 18% to Germany. After the German invasion of Denmark and Norway, trade with Britain became impossible as the German Navy blockaded the entrance of the Baltic, and eventually nearly all of the goods formerly destined for Britain went to Germany instead. The most controversial exports to Germany at this time were iron ore and ball bearings, for that they were undoubtedly used for war.
ww2dbaseJust as Sweden made efforts to appease Germany, it offered assistance toward the Allies as well. At the start of the war a fleet of merchant marine vessels were leased to Britain. When the German Navy raided British shipping, some of the intelligence British acquired was from the Swedish military. At the very end of the war, Sweden briefly entertained the idea of joining the Allies, but in the end remained neutral; however, Sweden did allow Allied aircraft to use Swedish air bases between 1944 and 1945.
ww2dbaseBeginning in 1940, Adolf Hitler pressed hard for Sweden to align itself with Germany. Sweden appeased some of the demands, and even allowed German troops limited use of the Swedish rail system, but refused to openly befriend Germany. As the war went on, pressure came from the Allies as well, for they viewed Sweden as a prime location to launch air raids against Germany.
ww2dbaseThe government of Sweden pressed hard to keep the difficult neutrality. To deter invasion by either Germany, Britain, or Russia, the Swedish government significantly increased the size of its military. In 1936, the Swedish defense budget was $37 million; by 1939, it had grown to $322 million. It peaked in 1942 at $527 million. Conscription was also activated during WW2. Meanwhile, freedom of press was limited in order to prevent Nazi or communist propaganda from swaying the Swedish population in either direction. Nevertheless, world events could not be kept totally from the population. Just like how some volunteers crossed the border into Finland to fight the Russians, some joined the German military, including membership in the SS. Some volunteers went to Britain, too, to fight for the Allies.
ww2dbaseSweden's war-time policy was not completely controlled by outside factors. For one, it held the initiative if conducting humanitarian missions. During the war, Sweden sheltered over 70,000 Fins and 50,000 Norwegians. It played a role in rescuing victims of the Holocaust, too, saving upwards of 100,000, many of whom Jews, from occupied Europe.
ww2dbaseAlthough neutral in official stance, Sweden swayed back and forth throughout the war and offered assistance to both sides of the conflict. However, the country did remain unchallenged by either side in the conflict, therefore avoiding the war that devastated so many countries during this era. After the war, Sweden offered her industrial base and strong economy to help rebuild Europe.
Last Major Update: Apr 2007
|Bernadotte, Folke||Hansson, Per Albin|
|Gustaf V||Wallenberg, Raoul|
|40 mm Bofors Anti-Aircraft Gun||Kg m/40 Machine Gun|
Sweden in World War II Interactive Map
Did you enjoy this article or find this article helpful? If so, please consider supporting us on Patreon. Even $1 per month will go a long way! Thank you.
Share this article with your friends:
Stay updated with WW2DB:
Visitor Submitted Comments
All visitor submitted comments are opinions of those making the submissions and do not reflect views of WW2DB.
- Â» Wreck of Johnston Found (8 Apr 2021)
- Â» Passing of Margaret Kelly (25 Jan 2021)
- Â» WW2DB's 16th Anniversary (29 Dec 2020)
- Â» See all news
- Â» 1,106 biographies
- Â» 334 events
- Â» 39,146 timeline entries
- Â» 1,155 ships
- Â» 339 aircraft models
- Â» 192 vehicle models
- Â» 356 weapon models
- Â» 120 historical documents
- Â» 228 facilities
- Â» 464 book reviews
- Â» 27,802 photos
- Â» 362 maps
Joachim von Ribbentrop, German Foreign Minister, Aug 1939
Please consider supporting us on Patreon. Even $1 a month will go a long way. Thank you!
Or, please support us by purchasing some WW2DB merchandise at TeeSpring, Thank you!