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Neutral Sweden's aid to Nazi war effort


seabhcan

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Much is said lately about Irish neutrality during WW2. The Times recently said our policy was shameful and showed “indifference to the evils of Nazism”. Lost in these comments is the fact that Ireland was far from being the only neutral country. And while neutral Ireland quietly helped the British and US by ignoring overflights and allowing captured British airmen to 'escape' to the north, other neutral nations gave far more substantial help to the Nazis.

Sweden remained officially neutral throughout the war. Yet they were the source of most of Nazi germany's iron ore and high grade steel used to make weapons. Sweden shipped tens of millions of tonnes of iron to Germany during the war - and munitions production would have stopped without this supply. They also supplied specialist machine tools and ball bearings. 37% of all Swedish exports during these years went to Germany.

Sweden also allowed German troops to transit Sweden between Norway and the Finnish front, in direct breach of their neutrality.

Sweden, like everyone else during that dreadful time, made compromises. They helped when they could - saving all Denmark's Jews, for example, in an audacious secret evacuation.

Every discussion of the Irish policy of neutrality ignores the context of the times, the fact that we were very limited in our options, and that others were forced to compromise more than we did. Irish neutrality was not shameful.

Denigrating neutrality during second World War has become fashionable - Irish News, World News & More | The Irish Times - Sat, May 11, 2013

Transit of German troops through Finland and Sweden - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Swedish iron mining during World War II - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
 

General Urko

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Yeah and some moronic members of your party want to introduce the infamous "Swedish Model"!
 

Levellers

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When I lived in England I never ceased to be amazed about how many English people knew about Ireland re-fueling the UBoats at various ports here.
 

General Urko

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They actually refused the allies rights to use their territory to assist their Norwegian neighbours! And carried out enforced sterilisation campaigns on the SAmmi and mentally ill or intellectual disabled people upto the 1970s (AFAIK).
Also proposed internment camps for people with HIV and have anti-drugs penalties which see a young teenager caught with a joint have a criminal record for life!
 

seabhcan

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parentheses

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Kudos Seabhcan, A couple of our revisionist posters have been getting giddy lately. This thread is an injection of reality
 

PeacefulViking

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T And carried out enforced sterilisation campaigns on the SAmmi and mentally ill or intellectual disabled people upto the 1970s (AFAIK).
The sterilisation campaigns were not directed against the Sami. Racism played at most a very minor role in them.
 

Dame_Enda

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Sweden was warned of invasion if it didn't comply, and there is no doubt they would have shared the fate of their Nordic neighbours had they refused. They were landlocked so the Royal Navy couldn't ride to the rescue. The German fleet were still a potent force in the Baltic sea. It's very easy to judge when you don't have millions of soldiers and thousands of powerful tanks and the best airforce on earth a short stretch of water away. Sweden probably saved its Jews by going along with this lesser of two evils.
 

Cruimh

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Sweden remained officially neutral throughout the war. Yet they were the source of most of Nazi germany's iron ore and high grade steel used to make weapons. Sweden shipped tens of millions of tonnes of iron to Germany during the war - and munitions production would have stopped without this supply. They also supplied specialist machine tools and ball bearings. 37% of all Swedish exports during these years went to Germany.

Sweden also allowed German troops to transit Sweden between Norway and the Finnish front, in direct breach of their neutrality.

Sweden, like everyone else during that dreadful time, made compromises. They helped when they could - saving all Denmark's Jews, for example, in an audacious secret evacuation.

Every discussion of the Irish policy of neutrality ignores the context of the times, the fact that we were very limited in our options, and that others were forced to compromise more than we did. Irish neutrality was not shameful.
I agree that Irish Neutrality was not shameful. However we have and do discuss the context of the times.

As a proportion of gross domestic product, Swedish public expenditure rose by more than 40 per cent, and Swiss by almost 50 per cent. Irish fell by about 20 per cent!
Page 234


Joe Lee – Irish army and defence during WWII
 

PeacefulViking

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Sweden was warned of invasion if it didn't comply, and there is no doubt they would have shared the fate of their Nordic neighbours had they refused. They were landlocked so the Royal Navy couldn't ride to the rescue. The German fleet were still a potent force in the Baltic sea.
Cooperating with Nazi Germany was an understandable decision and probably the only way to avoid an invasion. Whether that makes it morally right people can have different opinions about.

Of course, individual Swedes and the Swedish Government did not always stick to the bare minimum of cooperation necessary. Not when there was a chance to sell things.
 

parentheses

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Switzerland may be an even better example of helping the Germans. I saw a documentary years ago said the Germans outsourced much of their war industries into Switzerland during the war. It was immune from bombing and poured out munitions to help the German war effort. The Americans in particular were enraged and considered bombing Switzerland.
 

Dame_Enda

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You also have to remember that towards the end of the war Sweden ceased cooperation with the Nazis (around 1944).
 

Cruimh

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Switzerland may be an even better example of helping the Germans. I saw a documentary years ago said the Germans outsourced much of their war industries into Switzerland during the war. It was immune from bombing and poured out munitions to help the German war effort. The Americans in particular were enraged and considered bombing Switzerland.
Did either Switzerland or Sweden send condolences on the death of Hitler?
 

GDPR

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Renowned historian professor Richard J. Evans has an interesting passage in his book "The Third Reich at war" on Sweden's situation after the campaign in Norway:

"Not only were Swedish ore deliveries to Germany now assured, but Sweden itself, still nominally neutral, had effectively been reduced to the position of a German client state. Even during the Norwegian campaign the Swedish authorities had allowed German supplies to be transported across Swedish territory; subsequently they permitted the transit of hundreds of thousands of German troops as well. Swedish shipyards built warships for the Germany navy, and the Swedish economy became the source of supply for practically anything the Germans chose to demand so long as they had it."

Source: The Third Reich at war, pages 120-121.

I do think that it's difficult to compare the situation the two countries found themselves in though. The geographical proximity of Sweden to Germany, and the relative ease with which it could have been invaded, compared to the distance between Ireland and Germany and the difficulty an invasion of Ireland are extremely important distinctions between the two cases that one must take into account.
 

owedtojoy

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Much is said lately about Irish neutrality during WW2. The Times recently said our policy was shameful and showed “indifference to the evils of Nazism”. Lost in these comments is the fact that Ireland was far from being the only neutral country. And while neutral Ireland quietly helped the British and US by ignoring overflights and allowing captured British airmen to 'escape' to the north, other neutral nations gave far more substantial help to the Nazis.

Sweden remained officially neutral throughout the war. Yet they were the source of most of Nazi germany's iron ore and high grade steel used to make weapons. Sweden shipped tens of millions of tonnes of iron to Germany during the war - and munitions production would have stopped without this supply. They also supplied specialist machine tools and ball bearings. 37% of all Swedish exports during these years went to Germany.

Sweden also allowed German troops to transit Sweden between Norway and the Finnish front, in direct breach of their neutrality.

Sweden, like everyone else during that dreadful time, made compromises. They helped when they could - saving all Denmark's Jews, for example, in an audacious secret evacuation.

Every discussion of the Irish policy of neutrality ignores the context of the times, the fact that we were very limited in our options, and that others were forced to compromise more than we did. Irish neutrality was not shameful.

Denigrating neutrality during second World War has become fashionable - Irish News, World News & More | The Irish Times - Sat, May 11, 2013

Transit of German troops through Finland and Sweden - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Swedish iron mining during World War II - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Sweden should be ashamed, but at least it gave refuge to escapees and Jews from Nazi Germany. Surrounded by Nazi occupied countries or Allies, it probably had little choice.

Switzerland, for one, made it difficult for Jews to escape, but did not object to looted valuables and art treasures being stored in its vaults.

No country emerged from World War II with "clean hands", including the neutrals. All we can argue about is degrees of guilt and shame. While Ireland was not the worst, it was not the best either.
 

seabhcan

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The geographical proximity of Sweden to Germany, and the relative ease with which it could have been invaded, compared to the distance between Ireland and Germany and the difficulty an invasion of Ireland are extremely important distinctions between the two cases that one must take into account.
Ireland didn't face a threat of invasion by Germany, but there was an implied threat by the UK. However, ultimately, Ireland had no resources and no industrial capacity - so invasion would have achieved nothing. We did produce food, and were happily shipping it to Britain. We didn't have anything else to offer at the time.
 

Fritzbox

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Did either Switzerland or Sweden send condolences on the death of Hitler?
would it have made any difference to the outcome of the war, if they had? Did De Valera's condolences make make any difference?
 

Lain2016

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Did either Switzerland or Sweden send condolences on the death of Hitler?
The Swiss and Spanish ambassadors presented their cards, they discussed this with the Irish ambassador to Spain, Kearney.

These were all career diplomats discussing the diplomatic niceties at quite a remove from the horrors of war...
 
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