Sweden in World War II - across borders

Who from Sweden to Norway

When Norway was attacked, the war between Finland and the Soviet Union had recently ended. Volunteers from among others Norway and Sweden had fought for Finland, and were on the way back when they received the news about the German attack.

The first who took contact with the Norwegian legation and were willing to fight for Norway, were among these volunteers. These had training and some experience of warfare, and they had uniforms. They could be fully equipped in Sweden - except with weapons and ammunition. [s01]

But, it was not just to send volunteers into Norway. One reason was that many didn't have enough training, and Norwegian General Ruge wrote 22 April 1940 that only ready groups with officers, weapons and equipment should be sent. [s01]

Several military depots had been seized by the Germans, so there was a lack of weapons. (The leader of the small Norwegian nazi party Nasjonal Samling, Vidkun Quisling, had contacts with Hitler before Norway was attacked. Earlier he had been among others Norways defence minister.)

Another reason was that there had been negative experience of several volunteers. Many were brave and had war experience but many others were unreliable and covardly bandits, wrote a Norwegian captain later. Both groups seemed to have a lively imagination, so their reports should be read with critical eyes. [s01]

There was also a need for officers in Norway, but the Norwegian authorities in Sweden could not give Norwegian officers orders. Some Norwegian officers who took contact with the Norwegian legation got a group of volunteers and went to northern Norway, others went alone. A few wanted to return to their families, farms, shops and similar. There were also officers in Norway who did not treat civilian volunteers in a good way, even though some had five months of war experience. [s01]

One more serious problem was the acting of the Swedish authorities. First the possibility to purchase weapons and ammunition ended, then the same happened with uniforms. The Norwegians had got some hundreds of uniforms prepared for volunteers for the fighting in Finland, but these were confiscated by the Swedes. And then it was forbidden for Swedish citizens to volunteer for fighting in Norway. [s01]

2011-11-25. www.granfoss.se. Text/pictures: Arne Granfoss