Chapter 5 – Sweden, Finland and the Nazis

by Peter Cohen

The members of the Swedish ruling class had the same favorable view of Fascism as their counterparts in other countries, for the same reasons. The attitude of the Swedish government was made public during the rehearsal for World War 2 that is known as the Spanish Civil War.

The so-called civil war was an armed conflict between the legally elected government of the SpanishRepublic and sections of the armed forces that had illegally revolted under the leadership of the Fascist general Francisco Franco and were attempting to overthrow it. The rulers of the West regarded the government as dangerously radical (see Chapter 3).

The revolt began in July 1936 and received immediate support from the Nazi government as aircraft piloted by Germans ferried troops from Spanish Morocco to the mainland. But Franco needed more help. Mussolini and Hitler sent war materiel, ground troops and air-force squadrons, starting in October 1936.

More than 30,000 men from about 50 countries volunteered to fight in defense of the Republic against the Fascists. Some of them were Swedes.

In 1937 the Swedish parliament enacted a law that made it illegal for a Swedish citizen to participate in the defense of the SpanishRepublic. Offenders were liable to prison terms. Fighting the forces of Fascism in another country was defined as a crime by the Social Democrat government of Sweden.

About 500 young Swedes went to Spain. When they returned the government did not dare to prosecute them in the face of massive protests by the working class.

Volunteers in Finland not criminals

During the so-called Winter War between the Soviet Union and Finland from November 1939 to March 1940, the Swedish coalition government headed by the Social Democrats declared that Sweden was a non-belligerent. It nevertheless provided substantial aid to the Finnish government, which had close ties to Nazi Germany.

More than 8,000 Swedish volunteers went to Finland to fight against the Soviet Union, according to the Finland Volunteers Memorial Association. The Swedish government did not treat them as criminals. They were regarded as heroes in the crusade against Communism, and still are.

Massacring the working class in Finland

In January 1918 a civil war erupted in Finland, as the Finnish upper class, the “Whites” feared that the “Red” working class would establish a socialist republic. The terms of the treaty with Germany that the new Soviet government been forced to accept at Brest-Litovsk in March 1917 prevented it from helping the working class in Finland.

In contrast, the Whites signed a political, military and economic agreement with Germany “which in principle made Finland a German vassal state with the task of supplying war materiel and food”. This and the translated quotations below are from Aapo Roselius, I Bödlarnas fotspår – Massavrättningar och terror i finska inbördeskriget 1918 (On the Trail of the Executioners – Mass Killings and Terror in the Finnish Civil War 1918), 2009. Roselius works in the Department of History at the University of Helsinki.

German troops were sent to Finland to help the White forces commanded by General Mannerheim, a former Marshal in the Czar’s army. In Sweden the bourgeoisie was openly organizing support. The Swedish government had declared its neutrality early in the war. In order to avoid openly violating this policy a number of high-ranking officers were dismissed so that they could take service with Mannerheim, “forming the framework of his general-staff”. Swedish volunteers formed a Swedish Brigade under Mannerheim’s command.

A similar tactic was applied by the US government under president Clinton, when a group of prematurely retired Army officers in a corporation called Military Professional Resources Inc. directed the ethnic cleansing of several hundred thousand Serbs from Croatia in 1994.

The Finnish working class was defeated, and as usual the history of the war was written by the victors. The standard version emphasizes the “Red Terror”. But Roselius shows that the White Terror was incomparably greater. The Reds executed about 1,600 of their class enemies. Almost 10,000 workers were executed by the Whites, of whom about one-third during the war and the rest in mass executions that followed the surrender of the working class. This corresponds to one in ten of the Red combatants, “A figure which has no equal in modern warfare”, according to Roselius. Swedish volunteers participated eagerly in the massacre. Roselius quotes one of them, Gustaf Grönstrand, who said that the workers “are not human beings, they are wild animals that have to be exterminated. They have no right to exist, so they must be eradicated”.

The Whites sent about 90,000 workers, including women and children, to improvised prison camps where about 13,000 of them died from disease and undernourishment. Deaths resulting from the war totalled almost 36,000 in a country with a population of 3 million, a death rate which Roselius calls “sky-high”.

The executioners received a general amnesty, and the ruling class preserved the memory of “the awful sickening atrocities committed by the armed Red Guard”. Although the outcome of World War 1 put an end to their dreams of installing a Prussian prince as head of state, they maintained friendly ties with German capitalists. They also maintained their animosity to the Soviet Union, as expressed by head of state Pehr E. Svinhufvud: “An enemy of Russia is a friend of Finland”. His view was echoed many years later in Washington by Harry Rositzke, who was involved in the recruitment of Nazi war criminals for service in the CIA and other agencies: “It was a visceral business of using any bastard as long as he was anti-Communist”.

After Hitler came to power the Finnish government did not hide its approval of the Nazi commitment to anti-Communism, and it was obvious to the Soviets that Finland was a potential ally of Germany in the attack on the USSR which Hitler had been promising for many years.

Sweden combats the Soviet Union by proxy

The government of Sweden was officially neutral during the civil war in Finland, but it was a de facto ally of the Whites. During the Winter War between Finland and the Soviet Union November 1939 – March 1940, the government declared that Sweden was a “non-belligerent”.

But non-belligerent Sweden fought the Soviet Union by proxy, as it supplied Finland with war materiel that included 131,000 rifles, 32,000,000 rounds of amunition, 132 cannon, 347 machine guns, 450 light machine guns, 144 field guns, 100 anti-aircraft guns and 92 anti-tank guns with 301,846 shells, 300 sea mines and 500 depth-charges, 17 fighter aircraft, 5 light bombers and 3 reconnaissance aircraft. Twelve of Sweden’s most modern fighter aircraft, one-third of the Swedish air force, were flown in combat by volunteer Swedish pilots. The figures are from Carl-Axel Wangel et al, Sveriges militära beredskap 1939-1945 (1982), cited by Wikipedia.

During the war the commander of the Swedish army asked the Social Democrat Minister of Defense Per Sköld for permission to set up internment camps for “politically objectionable” individuals. A camp was built in the north (Storsien) of Sweden and 350 men were interned. Most of them were Communists, but anarchists and Social Democrats were also included. No Nazis were arrested. The Swedish army had sole discretion for identifying offenders. The camp was closed in the spring of 1940, after the Winter War had ended (Peter Bratt, IB och hotet mot vår säkerhet, 1973).

Three new internment camps were opened shortly after Germany attacked the Soviet Union. About 500 Swedish Communists were interned until the camps were closed after the battle of Stalingrad, when the Swedish government began to suspect that the outcome of the war was not going to match previous expectations.

It was not surprising that the government did not arrest any Nazis. In April 1939 Hitler had celebrated his 50th birthday. Members of the Swedish royal family as well as the Swedish Chief of Staff and two other high-ranking officers were among the guests who congratulated the leader of the Third Reich, with the blessings of the Swedish government. By then Swedish industry was delivering materials that were vital for implementation of the German rearmament program that had started in 1938, in preparation for the assault that would finally crush Bolshevism.

The Winter War

The pressure on the Soviet Union intensified in the late 1930s. In 1935 the UK signed an agreement that enabled the Germans to expand their navy far beyond the limits previously set by the Versailles Treaty. The UK and France had abetted Nazi Germany by refusing to oppose its aggressive expansion. They had delivered Czechoslovakia into Hitler’s hands. They had refused to sign a mutual defense pact with the USSR that would have contained German aggression. They had ignored their treaty commitments to help Poland when it was attacked in September 1939. They were openly scheming to send troops to Finland to launch an attack on the Soviet Union. From the Baltic to the Aegean, the countries bordering on the Soviet Union were ruled by Fascist or proto-Fascist governments with the exception of Czechoslovakia.

The only barrier to an attack by the Germans was the Molotov-Ribbentrop non-aggression pact, which the Soviets knew that Hitler would violate sooner or later. They thought it would hold until 1943. They were mistaken.

The Soviet government was worried that Finland would be a springboard for an attack mounted by either Germany or a British-French alliance. Under the direction of Western experts powerful military installations were built in Finland in the late 1930s within artillery range (32 km) of Leningrad. The fortifications on the Karelian isthmus known as the Mannerheim Line were designed as a base for military action against the Soviet Union. German experts were supervising the construction of more airfields than the Finnish air force could use (W.P. and Zelda Coates, The Soviet-Finnish Campaign: Military and Political 1939-1940, 1941). 

From April 1938 until November 1939 the Soviets tried to negotiate with the Finnish government in an attempt to adjust the frontiers between the two countries. In October 1939 the Soviets requested that the frontier north of Leningrad be adjusted northward, out of artillery range, and that the Finns grant a lease on an island in the Gulf of Finland which the Soviets could use as a naval base. In return, a large part of the Soviet province of Karelia would be ceded to Finland.

At the first meeting on 11 October 1939 Finland was represented by J. K. Paasiviki, who was then the Finnish ambassador to Sweden. Two other meetings were held, at which the Finnish negotiator was Finance Minister Väinö Tanner.

Paasiviki, later prime minister of Finland, was convinced that his government should accept the Soviet offer (J. K. Paasiviki, Meine Moskauer Mission 1939-41, 1966, cited in Pavel Sevostyanov, Before the Nazi Invasion, 1984).

According to Alexander Werth in Russia at War 1941-1945 (1964):

In 1945, Paasiviki and Kekkonen, both future presidents of Finland, who had favored accommodation with the Russians, told me that they had considered the Russian proposals moderate and understandable, and maintained that the war could have been avoided had their policy prevailed.

The Finnish government mistakenly believed that in the event of armed conflict with the Soviet Union it could count on the support of Western powers, including UK and France as well as Germany. Mannerheim wrote later that the government of Finland was convinced that “in the event of a conflict we would not be in isolation” (Les Mémoires de Maréchal Mannerheim, 1952). The Germans had assured Finland of military support, according to Major Erwin Lessner in Blitzkrieg and Bluff (1943), cited in Sevostyanov.

On 9 October 1939 the US embassy in Helsinki telegraphed US Secretary of State Cordell Hull that “the instructions given to the Finnish delegation… were quite as stiff as the American and British Ministers to Finland had anticipated” (William L. Langer and S. Everett Gleason, The Challenge to Isolation 1937-1940, 1952). The German embassy in Helsinki had also pressured the Finnish Foreign Ministry to prevent an agreement with the USSR (Documents on German Foreign Policy 1918-1945, Series D, Vol. V, US Government Printing Office 1953). (Both above sources are cited in Sevostyanov.)

During the autumn of 1939 the Finnish government ordered a military build-up and the army was put on combat alert. Troops were deployed along the frontier. The Finnish delegation broke off negotiations in early November and refused the Soviet offer.

President Roosevelt’s Secretary of the Interior Harold L. Ickes commented that “Finland is being used by the aristocratic and monied interests of England and France to do what harm it can to Russia, even if in the end it must fall before the superior forces and resources of Russia” (The Secret Diary of Harold L. Ickes, 1954). But as noted above the US government was also encouraging Finland to take an anti-Soviet position. “We have led Finland on”, said Representative Emanuel Celler (NY) in the US Congress on 4 February 1940, when the Winter War was under way (Congressional Record, Vol. 86, US Government Printing Office 1940, cited in Sevostyanov).

In mid-November reserves were mobilized in Finland and 15 infantry divisions were positioned along the frontier. On 26 November Finnish troops fired on Soviet frontier guards. The Soviets asked the government in Helsinki to move their troops 20-25 km back from the frontier. But the tension was not resolved and the USSR declared war at the end of the month, after renouncing the Soviet-Finnish non-aggression pact that had been signed in 1932.

The Finnish government soon understood that it could not win the war, and looked westward for help. According to Langer and Gleason the government approached the Germans and the Americans and asked them to mediate a peace agreement with the Soviets, but the Germans rejected the proposal outright and the Americans said the moment was “inopportune”. The Finns then approached the Soviets through the Swedish ambassador in Moscow, and at the end of January 1940 Swedish Foreign Minister Christian Günther was informed that Moscow was ready to sign a peace treaty.

But the Finns would not discuss the terms proposed by the Soviet Union, and the fighting continued. By 1 March 1940 Soviet troops had breached the Mannerheim Line, and the road to Helsinki was open. The Finns had no alternative but to start peace negotiations on the basis of the Soviet offer. The reaction in the West was not favorable.

According to Finland’s Finance Minister Väinö Tanner (The Winter War, Finland against Russia 1939-1940, 1957):

No sooner had the Cabinet reached its decision [to start peace talks] than it began to be pressed urgently from without. France and England… attempted by all means at their disposal to prevent Finland from engaging in peace negotiations with the Soviet Union.
The British made it clear that in the event that discussions with the Soviet Union should be continued, all preparations (for sending an expeditionary force) would be interrupted and shipments of arms and economic support would cease.

The Finnish government apparently still hoped that the West would intervene, but it was running out of room to maneuver. On 12 March a peace treaty was signed in Moscow. The border north of Leningrad was adjusted, and the Soviets were given a 30-year lease for the site of a naval base on the Hanko peninsula.

Finland received the Karelian isthmus, including the city of Vyborg, as well as territory on the northern and western shores of Lake Ladoga, west of the Murmansk Railway, and on the coast of the Barents Sea.

The treaty also included the following clause: “Both Contracting Parties mutually undertake to refrain from any attack upon each other, not to conclude any alliances, and not to participate in any coalitions directed against one of the Contracting Parties.”

The Finnish government obviously had no intention of honoring this commitment. Finland declared war on the USSR on 26 June 1941, four days after Germany launched Operation Barbarossa, in accordance with Svinhuvfud’s dictum.

About 1,500 Finns volunteered for service in the Waffen SS. Finland remained a staunch ally of the Nazis until it was forced to capitulate to the Red Army in September 1944.

In March 1944 US President Roosevelt sent the following rather naïve message to the government of Finland:

It has always seemed odd to me and to the people of the United States to find Finland a partner of Nazi Germany, fighting side by side with the sworn enemies of our civilization.
The Finnish people now have a chance to withdraw from this hateful partnership. The longer they stay at Germany’s side the more sorrow and suffering is bound to come to them. I think I can speak for all Americans when I say that we sincerely hope Finland will now take the opportunity to disassociate herself from Germany. (John T. Woolley and Gerhard Peters, The American Presidency Project [online]. Available at:

No Swedish government has ever made a similar comment, to my knowledge. On the contrary, in 2002 then Swedish prime minister Göran Persson praised the Finnish army for fighting side by side with the Nazis against the USSR and helping to save European civilization (see Chapter 2).

The myth of Swedish neutrality in World War 2 

Indispensable Swedish iron ore 

When Germany attacked Poland on 1 September 1939 the Swedish government announced its “complete neutrality”. In December of that year prime minister Per-Albin Hansson formed a coalition government that included all the parties represented in the Swedish parliament, with the exception of the Communist Party.

Throughout the 1930s Germany had been the main customer for Swedish iron ore, absorbing about 75% of the country’s exports. In 1934 Hitler had stated that Germany would not be able to wage war unless it had access to ore from Sweden, according to Christian Leitz in Nazi Germany and Neutral Europe During the Second World War (2000).

In 1933, the year that Hitler came to power, Germany imported 2.3 million metric tons of iron ore from Sweden. By 1937, when the rearmament program had been launched, imports had almost quadrupled to 9.1 million metric tons. The figures for 1942 and 1943 are 9.0 and 10.2 tons, respectively. 1943 was the year that Germany tried to regain the initiative on the Eastern Front by launching Operation Citadel, which required an increase in production of tanks, which in turn required more steel and therefore more iron ore. The Swedes obliged.

In 1938 the German Economics Ministry was worried enough to issue a warning about the threat to the rearmament program that would result from an interruption in supplies from Sweden. In April 1939 the OKW (Oberkommando der Wehrmacht – Armed Forces High Command) produced a detailed report which stated that continued supplies of ore from Sweden were “a principal demand of the Wehrmacht” (Leitz).

By December 1939 the Nazis had occupied Poland, and preparations for the attack on the Soviet Union were intensifying. Swedish Prime Minister Hansson’s new coalition quickly and obligingly negotiated a trade agreement with the Third Reich that assured the German war industry of a steady supply of the indispensable iron ore. Among other things the agreement stipulated that shipments of ore to Germany in 1940 would increase by about 45%.

Shortly before the trade agreement was signed on 18 December 1939, the British Ministry of Economic Warfare confirmed Hitler’s previous judgment. The Ministry came to the conclusion that if supplies of iron ore from Sweden were cut off the German armaments industry would come to a stop within a few months, which would have “a profound effect on the duration of the war”. In plain English, this meant that the war would quickly come to an end.

A few months later, on 1 March 1940, Hitler issued a directive for the invasion of Denmark and Norway, scheduled for 9 April. He stated that the need “to secure our supplies of ore from Sweden” was one of the three main reasons for occupying the two countries. The other two were to give the German navy and air force advanced bases for operations against Britain, and to guard against a British attack on Scandinavia and/or the Baltic.

Leitz points out that Swedish iron ore was highly valued by the Nazis because of its superior quality. The average iron content of 60% was twice the average in ore that was mined in Germany or occupied countries. Swedish ore enabled large savings for steel producers in terms of labor, furnace capacity and coke. Reduced labor requirements meant that more manpower was available for military service. The Swedish ore was also low in phosphorus, and the Germans considered it irreplaceable (nicht ersetzbar) for production of high-grade steel, according to Leitz.

Leitz quotes US Secretary of State Cordell Hull, who stated in November 1942 that “the traffic of (sic!) iron ore is the most important single contribution in terms of raw material made to Germany by any nation outside its pre-war borders”.

Ball bearings – the keys to mechanized warfare

Ball-bearings and other types of bearings are the keys to modern mechanized warfare, on land, at sea and in the air.

At the start of World War 2 the world’s largest producer of bearings was the Wallenberg-owned Swedish SKF (Svenska kullagerfabriken). Like GE in America, SKF in Philadelphia went to great lengths to delay deliveries to American companies producing military equipment. The company’s main goal was obviously to serve the German war machine. The biggest producer of bearings in Germany was Vereinigte Kugellagerfabriken – a subsidiary of SKF.

While the War Production Board in the US complained repeatedly about late or incomplete deliveries of bearings to American companies, SKF was exporting bearings from the US to customers and subsidiaries in neutral Latin American countries, from where they were trans-shipped to Germany.

SKF in Sweden was the country’s only producer of bearings, and supplied large quantities of them to the German war industry. Measured in millions of Swedish crowns, shipments to Germany 1937-43 increased by a factor of almost 12, from 4.0 to 47.5. Production of bearings in Germany 1938-1942, measured in millions of Reichsmarks,  increased by a factor of less than two, from 162 to 251.

The Allied governments repeatedly asked the Swedish government to prohibit these shipments and received promises in return. They also received lies. According to Leitz, in 1943 the Swedish government informed the British Foreign Office that exports of bearings were of minor significance and were not vital to the German war industry.

The Swedes pursued another evasive tactic as the Allies continued to pressure them in order to cut off exports of bearings. In 1944 these exports declined, but there was a substantial increase in shipments of ball-bearing steel as well as machines for producing bearings.

SKF continued to supply the Germans until October 1944, when Swedish capitalists and government officials had finally understood that Germany would not win the war.

The Nazis paid in gold for imports of ore and other materials from Sweden. The gold had been looted from central banks in occupied countries and from the mouths of dead Jews. Neither the government of Sweden nor the companies that received payment can have been unaware of this.

Over the next few years the Swedish government would make a number of other vital concessions to the Nazis. These included ordering the Swedish Navy to protect shipments of iron ore and ball bearings from attack by Allied aircraft.

Transporting German troops and war materiel through Sweden

The Hague Convention (V) Respecting the Rights and Duties of Neutral Powers and Persons in Case of War on Land went into effect on 26 January 1910. Sweden was one of the signatories.

According to Article 2 of the convention, “Belligerents are forbidden to move troops or convoys of either munitions of war or supplies across the territory of a neutral Power”. Article 5 specifies that a neutral power must not allow this to happen. But that is precisely what the “completely neutral” government of Sweden did.

The selective approach to neutrality shown by the Swedish government is illustrated by its response to Norwegian requests to ship munitions across northern Sweden in mid-April 1940, shortly after the German attack. The Swedes “forcefully” refused to allow transit or export of war materiel by belligerents. They told the Germans that similar requests would be rejected. They told the British that “Sweden would observe strict neutrality, would resist German invasion and would reject German demands for passage of troops and armaments across Swedish territory” (Leitz).

Three months later the Swedish government signed an agreement with the Germans that permitted transport of troops and materiel between Norway and Germany across Swedish territory. According to statistics compiled by the Swedish government, about 670,000 German troops were “transited”, and war materiel was being transported by between 1,000 and 1,500 railcars per month in 1940 and 1941. There was more to come.

On the morning of 22 June 1941, when the attack on the Soviet Union began, Swedish foreign minister Günther received a visit from ambassador Victor zu Wied and special envoy Karl Schnurre, the German representatives in Stockholm, who presented a number of urgent requests. An eyewitness account of the visit is given by a Swedish minister in Wahlbäck and Boberg’s Svensk utrikespolitik 1939-45 i dokument, (Documents in Swedish Foreign Policy 1939-1945), 1966.

First on the list was the transport by rail of a division of German troops (commanded by General Engelbrekt and known subsequently as the Engelbrekt division) from Norway across Sweden to Finland, where they would be sent into action against the USSR. Günther answered that this would be a violation of Swedish sovereignty and asked whether the troops couldn’t be transported by sea.

Schnurre replied that this had been carefully considered, but was impossible. Günther asked whether a refusal would be viewed as a serious matter.

Schnurre explained that it would be an understatement to call a refusal an unfriendly act. A refusal would “ruin everything”. The Reichskanzler (Hitler) would interpret it to mean that Sweden did not want to aid Germany in its crusade for the destruction of Bolshevism.

Günther also asked whether Finland would join the war as an ally of Germany, although the Finns had not declared war. Schnurre replied that they were going to do so.

Under the leadership of Prime Minister Hansson the Swedish Social Democrats arrived at a solution that was typically hypocritical. First, a meeting of the Social Democrat members of parliament on 24 June voted 159 to 2 to reject the German request and to urge the bourgeois members of the coalition government to do the same.

They then decided that the unity of the coalition government was supremely important, and voted 72 to 59 to accept the German request if the bourgeois parties were in favor of doing so. The Social Democrats contacted their bourgeois partners, who said that they would vote for approval of the German request. On 25 June the Social Democrats voted with them to permit transit of the Engelbrekt division across Sweden.

King Gustav V was overjoyed, like the rest of the Swedish upper class. On the evening of 22 June he had sent a handwritten note to Hitler through the German embassy, congratulating him on his decision to crush Bolshevism, which he considered a menace not only to the Nordic countries but to the whole of Europe. The King conveyed his warmest congratulations to Hitler for the great successes that had already been achieved, and assured him that most of the Swedish people shared his (the King’s) sentiments.

In any case those sentiments were shared by a majority of the military high command (Karl N. Alvar Nilsson, Svensk överklassnazism 1930-1945, 1997). In a memorandum to the Swedish government dated 19 July 1941, less than one month after the start of Operation Barbarossa, Swedish Chief of Staff Olof Thörnell informed the government of the advisability of entering the war on Germany’s side, since “a German victory would mean the defeat of Communism and would be of invaluable advantage to our country’s domestic health”.

“A Soviet victory is not desirable”

A number of Western historians have tried to minimize the importance of Sweden’s contribution to the German war effort. In Sweden, historians have admitted the extent of the government’s concessions, but have repeatedly justified them on the grounds that the coalition government kept Sweden out of war, which was its primary aim.

There is no evidence that the Germans ever planned to attack Sweden. On the same day that the Nazis attacked Denmark and Norway, the German ambassador in Stockholm made it clear that if Sweden remained neutral and continued shipping iron ore there was no risk of war. Leitz refers to “repeated assurances by German officials” including a letter from Hitler to King Gustav V on 25 April 1940.

Irrespective of motive, the fact is that in general the Swedish government did the Nazis’ bidding, and Swedish industry delivered indispensable supplies to the German war industry. It could also be argued that the British government should have followed the example of France and surrendered to Germany after the fiasco at Dunquerque. This would have kept the UK out of the war and saved several hundred thousand lives.

However, evidence of the attitude of the Swedish coalition government is hidden in a footnote in Leitz’ book. The note refers to a book by W. M. Carlgren, Swedish foreign policy during the Second World War (1977), which revealed that “To most (Swedish) government members a Soviet victory was not desirable” (emphasis added).

This rather coy formulation is the obverse of the plain statement that “A German victory was desirable”.

The Swedish government thus shared the attitude of the rulers of the West, in both the private and public sectors: “USSR delendum est”. Communism had to be strangled. That is why they participated in Hitler’s crusade.

A calculus of survival

According to the Raoul Wallenberg Institute of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law at (Spelling errors have been corrected, but the original syntax is unchanged):

One of Wallenberg’s first actions (after arriving in Budapest in 1944) was to launch the “protective” passports, Schutzpässe, blue with the three yellow crowns symbolizing the SwedishState. From a limited permitted 1,000 copies, Raoul Wallenberg succeeded to raise the quota to 4,500 passports, while other estimates point at triple that amount.

Operating from a special department within the Swedish Legation with the assistance of more than 300 volunteers, Wallenberg’s relief work also involved the establishment of thirty-two so-called ‘safe houses’ under the protection of the Swedish Legation. 15-20,000 Jews are said to have been rescued in this way. It is possible that Raoul Wallenberg’s tireless efforts together with actions of other neutral diplomatic missions, the Papal Nunciature and the International and Swedish Red Cross saved as many as 100,000 Hungarian Jews from Nazi persecution – if one includes the 60,000 people living in the Jewish central ghetto at the arrival of the Soviet troops.

“It is possible” that Wallenberg, other neutral diplomatic missions, the Papal Nunciature and the Red Cross “saved as many as 100,000 Jews”, including 60,000 inhabitants of the ghetto. Assuming that the unverified estimates of 13,500 Schutzpässe are correct, that the 20,000 said to have been rescued in safe houses actually were rescued, and that the other diplomatic missions, the Papal Nunciate and the Red Cross were as effective as Raoul Wallenberg, he must have saved about 40,000 Jews. This has earned him the status of a hero, which for some reason has not been given to the personnel of the other missions, the Nunciate and the Red Cross.

According to the Holocaust Chronicle, a non-profit project of Publications International Ltd (, “Conservative overall estimates show that the Holocaust took at least 500,000 Jewish lives in 1943”. The figure for 1944 “exceeded 600,000”. I have not been able to find figures for 1945. Pro-rating those for 1944 would give more than 200,000 in January-April 1945.

According to the mainstream version of history, the Swedish government submitted to German demands in order to avoid being attacked. As previously indicated, the actual risk of a German invasion was always virtually nonexistent. After the German army at Stalingrad capitulated in January 1943, an invasion was unthinkable. The Swedish government could have prohibited exports of iron ore, ball bearings and other vital materials to Germany without exposing the country to military aggression. But they did not. The only plausible explanation for continued exports was the Wallenberg brothers’ insatiable hunger for profits.

Assuming that Hitler and the British Ministry of Economic Warfare were correct in their evaluations, if Swedish exports had been cut off the German war industry would have come to a standstill in a few months. The war in Europe would presumably have been over by the summer.

This would probably have saved at least half of the Jews killed in 1943 – 250,000 – all of the more than 600,000 killed in 1944, and the estimated 200,000 in1945, a total of over 1,050,000, or more than 26 times the number that Raoul Wallenberg is supposed to have saved.

But the role of the Swedish government and the Wallenbergs in prolonging the war is not discussed by the Forum for Living History, nor to my knowledge by mainstream historians.

However, the responsibility of the Swedish government, other Western governments, the Wallenberg brothers and other Western capitalists extends far beyond the millions of Jews who were killed in 1943-45. As shown in Chapter 9, it extends to the entire “supreme crime” that was World War 2, and the crimes “that it contained”, according to the judgment at Nuremberg. This crime contained the killing of approximately 25 million Soviet citizens.

The question of why the Jews were targeted is discussed in the next chapter.