Sweden Between 1939 and 1948

In April 1939, Germany proposed to Sweden the signing of a non-aggression pact, but the offer was not accepted by the Stockholm government. When, in October of the same year, the USSR asked Finland to start negotiations to settle “certain concrete questions of a political nature”, the Swedish Foreign Minister, Sandler, declared to Mrs. Kollontay, the USSR representative in Stockholm, that maintaining the status quo Finnish was an indispensable factor of balance in the Baltic Sea area. The Swedish diplomatic action, however, did not succeed in making the USSR withdraw from its requests towards Finland. The outbreak of war between the two countries (November 30, 1939) saw Swedish public opinion in solidarity with Finland. Although Sweden did not abandon neutrality, Prime Minister Hansson, after setting up a coalition ministry, declared in a December 13 radio speech that Sweden would grant maximum “humanitarian and material aid” to Finland. The granting of these aids (recruitment of volunteers, dispatch of war material) and The anti-Soviet attitude of the Swedish press resulted in the presentation of a Russian diplomatic note in January 1940 where such aid was considered irreconcilable with Swedish neutrality.

The new foreign minister, Günther, replied that the aid, granted by private individuals, could not prejudice the official attitude taken by the government. In fact, in February, Sweden denied transit to an Anglo-French expeditionary force to be sent to help Finland. After the Peace of Moscow (March 12, 1940) Sweden was not opposed to concluding a defensive alliance with Finland and Norway, in order to protect the borders and the independence of the contracting countries, but, given the Russian opposition, this was not possible. On April 9, 1940, as Germany began the invasion of Denmark and Norway, Wehrmacht would not harm Swedish interests in any way, he asked Günther to observe the strictest neutrality on the part of Sweden. The Swedish government, not intending at any cost to involve the country in the war, was prompt to grant this assurance and indeed partially abandoned – given that in those months the fate of the war favored Germany – the line of the strictest neutrality. Thus, on July 5, 1940, an agreement was concluded which permitted the railway transit of German war material through Swedish territory. England and Norway protested against this concession. However, the European political situation did not allow Sweden to accept these protests. Only in August 1943, when the decline of German military power was now evident, Sweden was able to revoke the concessions granted three years earlier, but in the meantime – in the aftermath of the outbreak of the Russo-German conflict – on 25 June 1941, Sweden had had to consent to the transit, by rail, of a Germanic division, on the move from Norway to Finland. Thus, in the second half of 1943, the Swedish policy of neutrality, which had hitherto been rather favorable to Germany, took a course inclined to the United Nations. Diplomatic relations with the Norwegian government in exile in London were resumed and there were warm demonstrations of sympathy for the Norwegians persecuted by Germany. For Sweden government and politics, please check a2zgov.com.

On May 7, 1945, Sweden finally broke off diplomatic relations with the Third Reich. After the end of the war, Hansson resigned the coalition government to the king and formed a social democratic cabinet. Upon Hansson’s death (October 1946), Tage Erlander became head of the government. In November the two chambers of the Riksdag they agreed to ratify a trade treaty with Russia, which granted the USSR a credit of one billion crowns to purchase goods in Sweden. On November 2, Sweden was admitted to the UN and in July 1947 it joined the Marshall Plan with the understanding that this should not tie it to a possible Western bloc or, in any case, influence its policy. The government’s financial measures (1947-1948) led to sharp conflicts with the parliamentary, conservative and liberal opposition. The political elections for the second Chamber, held on 19 September 1948, saw the affirmation of the liberals who, under the leadership of the well-known economist B. Ohlin, went from 26 to 57 terms, while all the other competing parties suffered losses.. The Social Democrats are demoted from 115 to 112 seats, the Agrarians from 35 to 30, the Conservatives from 39 to 22, the Communists from 15 to 9. However, the electoral results have not shaken the dominant position that the Social Democratic Party has held for 16 years in the country. Despite having lost three seats compared to the previous elections of 1944, the Social Democrats always remain masters of the parliamentary situation, since they have the majority in the first Chamber, and since the constitutional provision requires the vote in joint chambers in the event that there are differences between the two branches of parliament.  Prime Minister Erlander, aware of his strength in Riksdag, after unsuccessful attempts to set up a coalition government together with the agrarians, has therefore returned to the previous formula of a purely social democratic cabinet. In foreign policy, Sweden is a supporter of a Scandinavian bloc, which also includes Denmark and Norway. During 1948 and at the end of January 1949 there were various meetings between the heads of government and foreign ministers of the three countries, for the conclusion of a Scandinavian defense pact, but, given the Swedish intransigence to maintain the most rigorous neutrality and equidistance between West and East, the aforementioned conferences did not lead to anything concrete.

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