Sweden in World War II - across borders

Swedish war plans

Before the emerging war threath in Europe in the 1930s, Sweden saw the Soviet Union as the most potential enemy. The Swedish defence was therefore strong in the northeast of Sweden.

In 1900 it was decided to start the construction of the large fortress at Boden, in northern Sweden. Due to the high costs, more than twice as much as estimated, the fortress did not get as large as initially planned. The development of war planes and tanks also changed the warfare. To add more mobile firepower, two armoured trains were constructed (before 1940). [s26]

On 25 May 1938 maps for wartime use for the Swedish airforce were ordered for the first time. They covered among others Denmark, Finland and Norway, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, northern Germany and the Murmansk area. General maps over Sweden were also ordered. [s75]

The possibility of a strong military attack from Norway, as the Germans could make after the occupation of Norway, had not been considered. [s28]

In 1938 Stockholmsplanen was agreed with Finland, for a joint military defence of the Finnish island group Åland (between mid Sweden and southwest Finland). From September 1939 Swedish troops were, secretly, ready to be sent to Åland. Among the prepared weapons were equipment for controlled minefields that would be manned with Swedish military. [s72]

Despite the warnings to Denmark and Norway made by Swedes, the German attack on Denmark and Norway on 9 April 1940 was a surprise in Sweden. Should Sweden remain neutral, with the difficulties that would make for the defence of Sweden against a German-occupied Norway? Should Sweden fight together with Norway, with the risk that Norway capitulated to Germany and Sweden stood alone against Germany? The choice was to remain neutral. One reason was that they believed Germany wouold prefer a neutral Sweden before an occupied Sweden. [s43]

The German demands to Sweden to be neutral (delivered shortly after the attack on Denamrk and Norway), among others with no military aid to Denmark and Norway, and no Swedish mobilization intended towards Germany, were accepted by Sweden. However Sweden mobilized gradually the first days, and a general mobilization on 11 April. The Swedish military command understood that there soon could be German demands for use of Swedish areas and railways. [s43]

The worst case for Sweden would be a long period of fighting in Norway, with the risk that Sweden would be involved in the fighting sooner or later. [s43]

The only Swedish plan I know of that is similar to a war plan, later was developed to the so called Movinckel plan. In short it meant that northern Norway should be pacified under Norwegian government, and Swedish troops should take control of Narvik and the demarcation line. [s43]

In the summer of 1940 the Swedish military had two war cases - an attack from the south (Germany) and an attack from the east (the Soviet Union). However, with Sweden surrounded by possible enemies, an attack could come from almost any direction (except maybe through Finland). One activity among the various preparations, was the distribution to certain units on 1 July of maps with targets to bomb in the Baltic countries. [s75]

A cabinet minister meeting in Sweden on 21 April 1941 included information about Sweden's strategic situation at sea in case of a war between Germany and the Soviet Union. The largest danger was a Soviet Union occupation of the Åland islands between Sweden and Finland. That would be a threath both to the shipping to and from northern Sweden and for Swedish navy operations on Sweden's east coast. The advice to the ministers was to consider a swift Swedish occupation of Åland in case of a war between Germany and the Soviet Union. [s59]

(Germany attacked the Soviet Union on 22 June 1941. On the 23rd Finnish troops had been stationed on Åland.) [s59]

Swedish plans for intervention in Denmark and in Norway had been made by the Swedish defence staff in the autumn of 1942. [s28]

The plans "Rädda Danmark" (Save Denmark) and "Rädda Norge" (Save Norway) were submitted to the government in the spring of 1945, and were approved. [s58]

Operation "Rädda Norge" (Save Norway) was prepared to take place at the end of the war, to safeguard public policy until Norwegian authorities were back in function. The Swedish army should move into Norway on a wide front, in cooperation with the Norwegian resistance. German destruction and transports from Norway with troops, equipment and Norwegian hostages were to be counter-checked. German coastal batteries in Oslofjorden should be taken out of action, and Oslofjorden secured. [s52]

The German ground forces were estimated to around 100,000 men. They were supported by 250-300 warplanes, some 20 destroyers, more than 200 submarines, and around 300 mine sweepers and other smaller naval vessels. The Swedish navy should participate with 3 ironclads (my note: launched 1901-1905), 7 destroyers, 3 submarines and around 14 smaller vessels. [s52]

The time schedule: after 11 May 1945 the operation should be able to start at the most 14 days after order from the Swedish supreme commander. On 8 May the preparations were stopped. [s52]

The Swedish government accepted a cooperation between the Swedish general staff and an Allied delegation on 30 April 1945. [s50]

2019-04-07. www.granfoss.se. Text/pictures: Arne Granfoss