Sweden in World War II - across borders

Swedes for the Soviet Union

When the Soviet Union attacked Finland on 30 November 1939, many Swedes supported Finland in various ways.

There were also Swedes who supported the Soviet Union, but maybe not so much in military activities.

After the German attack, and the following Finnish attack, on the Soviet Union in June 1941, there were Swedish supporters for several of the warfaring parties.

One group of communists trained skiing with heavy packs, to stay overnight outdoors and experimented with explosives. The plan was to perform sabotage in northern Finland, to demoralize the Fins who fought against the Soviet Union. However they did not travel to Finland. [s50]

(I have seen information about two Swedes who fought for the Soviet Union in the attack on Finland, but both lived in the Soviet Union before the war. [s50])

After the German and Finnish attacks on the Soviet Union, some Swedes fought for the Soviet Union. [s50]

A group of Norwegian soldiers in the SS had been caught by the Red Army during the battles in the northern Scandinavia. They had been placed in front of a machine gun to be executed when a Soviet Union officer had stopped it and asked if they were Germans or Norwegians. Since they were Norwegians, they had the alternative to work for the Soviet Union. One Norwegian later meant that this officer spoke such perfect Swedish, that he must have been a Swede from Sweden. [s50]

(There were also around 20 persons with various connections to Sweden who fought for the Soviet Union. Estonian-Swedish and persons from Gammelsvenskby in Ukraina also were joined with the Red Army, but seemingly not so volutarily. A Soviet Union homefront group was organised in Gammelsvenskby, led by Johannes Pettersson Knutas, but when the Germans had occupied the area the same person became commander of a German home front group. A Swedish volunteer in the German "Organisation Todt" met a group of German prisoners in northern Finland. They spoke Swedish, and came from Gammelsvenskby. In the camp they were treated better than the Soviet Union and Polish war prisoners, among others they got the same food as the German soldiers, got exercise and could play football with the Germans. [s50])

In the mid 1930s the German Ernst Wollweber established the Bernhard network, for the Soviet Union organisation NKVD (a 'colleague' to the British SOE). In 1937 the seemingly first Swede was engaged in the network. It was a technical man who made bomb ignitions and with help from friends also could provide explosives. The Bernhard agents among others sabotaged shipping for Franco in the Spanish civil war. Eventually the organisation in Sweden grew to around 100 persons around in Sweden, but one had in February become an informer to the Swedish police. Gestapo too had them under observation. At midsummer 1941 he was arrested by Swedish police, in coorination with Gestapo acting in connection to the German attack on the Soviet Union. Most of the Bernhard organisation in Sweden was exposed. [s50]

2013-05-22. www.granfoss.se. Text/pictures: Arne Granfoss