• Norway's news in English
 
app_header_v3

Wartime leader 'hated' Sweden for Nazi help

NTB/The Local · 4 Jun 2012, 17:12

Published: 04 Jun 2012 17:12 GMT+02:00

Narvik-based journalist Espen Eidum spent three years combing through the Norwegian, Swedish and German archives in his bid to discover how the Nazis had managed to get troops and supplies to the front lines in Narvik in 1940, enabling them to turn a losing battle into a decisive victory.

The results of his research proved damning for Norway's nominally neutral neighbour.

“The Germans used the Swedish rail network on a large scale during the fighting,” Eidum told newspaper Dagbladet following the release of his book Blodsporet, ‘The Blood Track’.

“The operation was much more extensive than historians have previously realized,” he added.

In his book, Eidum documents how the Swedish authorities in October 1940 -- four months after the German victory – sought to convince Norwegian delegates in London and Stockholm that Sweden had not allowed the Nazis to transport soldiers and weapons through its territory. The truth, however, was very different, Eidum found.

According to the book, the German foreign ministry had earlier summoned the Swedish ambassador in Berlin to inform him that Adolf Hitler had personally requested for the Nazis to be permitted to send three trains with 30 to 40 sealed carriages through Sweden to the far north of Norway.

Hitler’s representatives told the Swedes that the Germans had a number of wounded soldiers at the front and urgently needed to send in medical officers and food.  The Germans also made no secret of the fact that winning the battle in Narvik was a matter of some pride for the Nazi leader.

Once Sweden gave the go-ahead, however, the Germans took the opportunity to send combat soldiers, disguised as medical staff, to the Narvik front. For every actual medical officer, the trains carried 17 ground troops, according to Eidum’s calculations.

A report sent by a Swedish representative in Berlin, who watched the officers board the train, left little doubt that the Swedes knew the trains were being used for troop movements. What’s more, Eidum’s research indicates that the trains were also loaded with heavy artillery, anti-aircraft guns, ammunition, engineering equipment, communications equipment and clothing.

Once Norway had lost Narvik, the Swedes then paved the way for the Nazis to continue sending trains to the occupied port town, a crucial hub for the transportation of iron ore.

From 1940 to August 1943, German trains rolled across Sweden’s northernmost borders before moving on to Oslo, Trondheim and Narvik. Norwegian prisoners were also sent by train to concentration camps in Germany when the rail cooperation was at its highest ebb, the book claims.

In what Eidum says was a particularly lucrative three-year period for Swedish rail operator SJ, hundreds of thousands of Nazi soldiers were allowed to pass through Sweden as they made their way to the Eastern Front in the USSR.  

Eidum also includes in his book a venomous letter from Norway’s wartime prime minister, Johan Nygaardsvold (Labour Party), sent on New Year’s Eve 1940 to his Stockholm-based party colleague Anders Frihagen.

Story continues below…

Seething with rage, Nygaardsvold asked his government’s Stockholm representative to convey his anger to the Swedish prime minister, Per Albin Hansson (Social Democrat).

“If YOU can arrange a private conversation with Per Albin Hansson you can give him my greetings and tell him there are two things I want to experience, and those are: that the Germans get hunted out of Norway and, secondly, that I get to live long enough to give him and his entire government a proper dressing down – maybe even his entire party.”

Nygaardsvold further noted that there “is nothing, nothing, nothing I hate with such passion and wild abandon as Sweden – and it is his (Hansson’s) fault.”

The recipient of the letter never showed it to the Swedish prime minister. 

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
US rockers to hit Oslo on first tour since Paris attacks
Eagles of Death Metal at a 2007 performance at Øyafestivalen. Photo: Stian Lysberg Solum / SCANPIX

US rockers to hit Oslo on first tour since Paris attacks
4 hours ago

The Eagles of Death Metal will play the Norwegian capital this weekend as they return to the road following the Paris attacks.

Norway issues new Zika advice for pregnant women
File photo. Flickr: coniferconifer

Norway issues new Zika advice for pregnant women
7 hours ago

Health officials have new recommendations for minimizing the risk of contracting the Zika virus through sexual conduct.

Extreme Islamism and far-right pose threats to Norway
Justice Minister Anders Anundsen and PST head Benedicte Bjørnland presented the nation's terror assessment in Oslo. Photo: Terje Bendiksby / NTB scanpix

Extreme Islamism and far-right pose threats to Norway
1 day ago

Although Norway's overall terror threat is slightly decreased there are still several factors that threaten the nation.

Chinese fund offers $1.2b for Norway's Opera web company
Photo: Opera

Chinese fund offers $1.2b for Norway's Opera web company
1 day ago

UPDATED: The world's fifth most used web browser may soon be in Chinese hands.

Russian spying can 'damage' Norway: PST
Russian President Vladimir Putin. Photo: Scanpix

Russian spying can 'damage' Norway: PST
1 day ago

In its annual threat assessment, PST said that Russian spies have major “damage potential” for Norwegian interests.

After 36 years, 'mystery films' shown in Norway
The American sent himself the package in 1980 but never picked it up. Photo: Kjell-Erik Ruud/Instagram

After 36 years, 'mystery films' shown in Norway
1 day ago

As proof that sometimes mysteries are better left unsolved, Tuesday’s public viewing of three film reels left unclaimed in a Norwegian hotel for 36 years was somewhat anticlimactic.

How to vote as an American expat in Norway
Even if you won't be anywhere near this ballot box in Dixville Notch, New Hampshire – or anywhere else in the US – you can still take help decide the next US president. Photo: Mike Segar/Scanpix

How to vote as an American expat in Norway
1 day ago

As The US presidential voting season is well underway with the first primary elections in New Hampshire, The Local looks at how American citizens can cast their ballots from outside the US.

'Aggressive elk' no match for Norway kids with snowballs
Photo: Paul Kleiven / NTB scanpix

'Aggressive elk' no match for Norway kids with snowballs
2 days ago

It takes more than an angry elk to scare Norwegian nursery children.

Norway 'lost' 661 asylum seekers in January alone
UDI said many of the 'lost' asylum seekers will likely "show up in some way or another". Photo: Torstein Bøe / NTB scanpix

Norway 'lost' 661 asylum seekers in January alone
2 days ago

The number of asylum seekers who 'disappeared' within Norway in January was higher than any single month last year.

Tourist brought 125 kilos of Norwegian coins to Oslo
The coins totaled 220,970 kroner and weighed 125 kilos. Photo: Toll

Tourist brought 125 kilos of Norwegian coins to Oslo
2 days ago

A most unusual find for Oslo customs officials.

Sponsored Article
US taxes and FATCA: 'The time for hiding is over'
National
Norway police to go back to being unarmed
Health
Norway ads use Hitler teddy bear to scare parents... about dust
National
Migrants: Norway 'sending us to death' in Russia
Norway under fire over tough new asylum plans
Health
Norway doctors push plan for 'tobacco-free generation'
National
Norway's call to remove crosses causes backlash
Politics
Norway tightens asylum policy to cut numbers
Society
The end of the expat? European cities fight for innovative 'inpats'
Education
Hiker finds 1,200-yr-old Viking sword in Norway
National
Oslo eyes ban on private cars from city centre in green push
Culture
Family shocked as The Scream appears in a freshly sawn plank
National
AS-IT-HAPPENED: Nobel Peace Prize announcement 2015
National
Norway armed forces to get organic underwear
International
Syrians cross Norway's Arctic border on bicycles
Society
Norwegians reveal the (hilariously inaccurate) origins of the Danish language
National
Norway man built secret child's room in cellar
Education
Norway starts school for Vikings
Sport
Sepp Blatter should win Nobel Peace Prize: Putin
2,228
jobs available