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Full Name 22 Kingdom of Sweden
Alliance Neutral or Non-Belligerent
Population in 1939 6,341,000


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.

ww2dbaseSource: Wikipedia.

Last Major Update: Apr 2007

Bernadotte, FolkeHansson, Per Albin
Gustaf VWallenberg, Raoul

40 mm Bofors Anti-Aircraft GunKg m/40 Machine Gun


Prince William, King Gustaf V of Sweden, and Crown Prince Gustaf observing the Games of the V Olympiad, May-Jul 1912Author Pearl Buck receiving the Nobel Prize for Literature from King Gustaf V, Stockholm Concert Hall, Sweden, 10 Dec 1938

Sweden in World War II Interactive Map

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Visitor Submitted Comments

1. Anonymous says:
27 Jan 2009 07:39:37 PM

Very Helpful!!!
2. A Student says:
4 Mar 2009 06:51:28 AM

Small nitpick:

"...Sweden was virtually under a blockade and was able to conduct business with any foreign nations except for Germany."

Shouldn't that 'able' be 'unable'? Confused me a bit the first time read it.

And thanks for working on this site. very helpful.
3. a student says:
6 May 2009 02:10:40 PM

helpful for worksheets
4. Anonymous says:
3 Nov 2010 10:18:18 AM

cool stuff
5. Anonymous says:
5 Feb 2011 05:31:37 PM

this is ***
6. awsome says:
24 Mar 2011 06:18:47 PM

7. Anonymous says:
25 Oct 2011 09:50:27 AM

This is odd. It's not very helpful. I only got 3 useful things! zum.de/whkmla/sp/0809/pjh/pjh2.htm#IV is sooooooo much better. I hate this website
8. Anonymous says:
31 Oct 2011 04:58:37 PM

I dont think it is useful. I knew all of these before I came on. Hmppphhhh
9. I am awesome says:
8 Oct 2013 10:11:29 AM

This is a great website and I cant wait to hack it :) Thanks!
10. Anonymous says:
19 Mar 2015 02:44:42 PM

well I culdent find eny relivent info for my Sweden project!!!!1
11. Mr. Researcher says:
21 Dec 2015 08:17:53 AM

Amazing I was using it for a research project and it helped me a lot.
12. khana nehh says:
23 Feb 2016 09:53:52 AM

a little bit boring hmph
13. Anonymous says:
2 Mar 2017 12:02:42 PM

I do not know how many people where in Sweden in World War 2
14. Dennis Gauss says:
31 Aug 2017 01:10:28 PM

There were only 2 countries that made $Billions out of ww1 & ww2.Switzerland and sweden.Not taught in these countries history books,of course !!
15. K.L. Roth says:
29 Mar 2018 10:40:50 PM

It is correct Sweden did not act neutral during ww2, but it is profoundly wrong to claim that swedish children do not learn about it in school. As a swede, the subject of my country's neutrality is one of the main topics during history class. The dark parts of our history is not a secret but widely known!
16. jaden says:
22 May 2018 01:02:13 PM

yes i am wanting to know about the leader of sweden in ww2

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Sweden in World War II Photo Gallery
Prince William, King Gustaf V of Sweden, and Crown Prince Gustaf observing the Games of the V Olympiad, May-Jul 1912Author Pearl Buck receiving the Nobel Prize for Literature from King Gustaf V, Stockholm Concert Hall, Sweden, 10 Dec 1938

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