Sweden in World War II - across borders

Peace in Norden

The peace in Europe came in steps. During the first phase the peace spread as the Allies forced Italian, German and other troops to surrender in country after country, and area after area.

The second phase, in my view, began with the German capitulation that began on 3 May 1945.

The third phase was when the various nation's civilian administration took over from the occupying forces.

When Hitler learnt about Himmlers peace feelers in late April, Himmler was removed from his positions and excluded from the nazi party. On his last day in life, 29 April, Hitler appointed Dönitz as his successor. A new German government was seated in Flensburg, about the only German city that still was in German hands. [s19]

The Norwegians discussed how to handle various reactions from the Germans in Norway. One possible situation was that the Germans and Norwegian nazis would continue to fight, and that the Allies would have to retake Norway. An invasion only from the sea would be tough, maybe impossible. There also had to be an Allied attack via Sweden. [s36]

Twice the Norwegian government asked the Swedish government for military intervention in case the German troops in Norway would not surrender. The Swedish reaction was not at all positive for the Norwegians. Among others it was said that the Swedish government knew more about the situation in Norway than the Norwegian government knew. [s36]

On 3 May the German 'generaladmiral' (title in Norwegian) von Friedeburg came to Montgomerys headquarters with an offer of unconditional German capitulation, both to him and the Soviet Union. Montgomery accepted it for his part of the front, but said no to a general capitulation. [s19]

On 4 May Germany capitulated in what was left of northern Germany, on Helgoland and the Frisian islands, in the Netherlands and in Denmark. This capitulation began 6 o'clock in the morning of 5 May. [s19]

There were some uncertainties in Denmark towards the end of the war. If Denmark was cut off from Germany by the advancing Allied troops, how would the 200,000 German troops in Denmark react? Would troops from the Soviet Union be the first who landed in Denmark? What would the strong Danish communist party do? [s58]

In Denmark the German radio jamming station worked as usual on the evening of 4 May 1945, when listeners sat at their illegal radios to listen to the 20:30 Danish broadcast from BBC. After some of the common front reports there was a moment of silence, and then the announcer told that a message just had arrived. The German troops in Denmark, northern Germany and Holland had capitulated. The peace celebrations began, and British troops came to Denmark. [s13]

There was no final fighting in Denmark. The 43 000 men in the Danish resistance and the Danish brigade that had been trained in Sweden took over in peace. [s19]

The troops from Britain and the USA that were sent to Denmark, left in 1946. [s19]

But, on the Danish island Bornholm the German commander refused to capitulate to the Soviet Union. After bombardments on 7 and 8 May the German garrison capitulated. The liberating troops from the Soviet Union remained on the island, south of Sweden, until 5 April 1946. [s14]

On 5 May the German officer von Friedeburg asked to be taken to general Eisenhovers headquarter in Reims in France, where he was given the conditions for capitulation. That led to the final unconditional German surrender, signed by chief of the general staff Jodl on 7 May at 14.41. All German warfare should stop one minute past midnight to 9 April. [s19]

On the afternoon of 7 May 1945 the news of the unconditional German surrender was broadcast in Swedens only radio channel. The spontaneous peace celebration in Stockholm, captured on photos and film, seem as joyful as in any city on the winning side of the World War II. Danes, Norwegians and others added to the celebration.

At 15.50 in the afternoon the peace message was broadcast from the radio station in Oslo. On the streets armed German soldiers walked around, and German vehicles passed through groups of cheering Norwegians. German soldiers who in any way celebrated, were punished by their officers. [s47]

But, the supreme commander of the Wehrmacht in Norway would not surrender until he received a distinctive order from the Wehrmacht’s supreme command in Germany.

On 7 May, the same day that Dönitz had announced Germany's unconditional surrender, he had replaced Terboven with general Böhme as commander-in-chief in Norway. He had supreme authority in both military and civil matters. [s58]

On 7 May Böhme ordered the German troops in Norway to be vigilant and hold their positions. No words about capitulation, but the planned destruction of Norwegian installations did not begin. [s58]

It wasn't until the morning of 8 May that he sent a message about an expected Allied military mission. [s58]

The following day there was a meeting in Berlin, in Soviet Union's field marshal Sjukovs headquarter, with about the same officials present. On 8 May German field marshal von Keitel, commander-in-chief of the German "Oberkommando der Wehrmacht", signed the unconditional German surrender. This was also confirmed by the commanders-in-chiefs for the various 'branches' of the German armed forces. [s19]

After the complete signing of the document, Keitel suddenly asked for another 24 hours. Noone answered him. [s19]

In Norway, 8 May was the official day of the German capitulation. 40 000 men in the resistance movement came forth. [s19]

In one district there were close to 15 000 Germans, and 500 Norwegian Milorg members. Half of them were well trained with British small arms. Not all of them had guns from the beginning, but they were fitted with German weapons from depots seized the first days. [s47]

The following days 12 000 police-soldiers arrived from Sweden. [s19]

Freed prisoners arrived from prisons and camps in Norway and abroad, and Norwegian soldiers who had been active in other Allied countries.

British soldiers came too, among others to disarm the German troops whose officers refused to be disarmed by the Norwegian resistance movement.

On 13 May crown prince Olav came back to Oslo, and on 7 June the Norwegian king Haakon and the royal family came back to Norway.

There were lots of celebration in Scandinavia in the summer of 1945.

Over the following years many others returned to their home countries in Scandinavia, long after the celebrations had ended. One group was the sailors who had worked on merchant ships during the years of war, and continued to work on ships around the planet (among others in the continued war in the Pacific) until it was suitable for them to return home.

The transport of German soldiers in Denmark and Norway to the western occupation zones was almost finished at the end of 1945. [s58]

The last Allied troops left Norway in the autumn of 1945. [s58]

40,000 German soldiers in Norway were kept in Norway until the summer of 1946, when the authorities in the Soviet Union zone could receive them. [s58]

During 1946 the British troops in Denmark were reduced to around 100 men. [s58]

Finland had lost 80 000 men, and 50 000 children lost their fathers. [s28]

Totally 2 percent of the Finns were lost, 85,000 persons, and 50,000 were permanently invalided. [s58]

Norway lost 10 000 men, most of them sailors in the merchant fleet. [s28]

Sweden too lost many sailors.

2013-10-27. www.granfoss.se. Text/pictures: Arne Granfoss