Although Sweden remained neutral throughout the Second World War, a number of Swedes decided to volunteer to serve with the Waffen SS. As you might expect this is a rather mixed bunch of men, with some rather unimpressive characters. Amongst the volunteers are dedicated Swedish Nazis, criminals and escaped lunatics. Others were seeking adventure or even just employment. Perhaps the most sympathetic are those who were alarmed by the real Soviet threat to Scandinavia, demonstrated by the attack on Finland that led to the Winter War and the occupation of the Baltic States, an area with a Swedish minority. However even here there was a choice between Finnish and German service, and significantly more men fought for the Finns than the Germans.
Quite a few of the volunteers quickly changed their minds about the German cause or National Socialism in general quite quickly after joining the SS, and there was a fairly constant stream of deserters. Many were interrogated in Sweden after their return, so this provides us with so valuble (if not always reliable) information about their time in German service.
Just under 200 Swedes volunteered for the SS, and this book covers the 144 for whom the author could find documentation. The level of documentation varies, with little known about some and copious details for others. Where possible the author provides details of individuals early life, their motives for volunteering, the methods they used to reach German occupied soil (direct recruitment from Sweden being illegal), their training and combat careers, and for the survivors their post-war lives.
At first glance this would appear to be a rather specialist subject, and to a certain extent that is true – it'll be of most interest to people with a connection to Sweden or interest in Swedish history. However it also has value for those interested in the fighting on the Eastern Front in general, and the role of the SS in particular, providing something of a cross-section of the experiences of the SS. The final few chapters widen the scope somewhat, and give us some idea of the vast scale of the SS by the end of the war.
1 - Sweden and the Second World War
2 - National Socialism in Sweden
3 - The Waffen-SS
4 - Recruitment in Sweden
5 - Swedish Volunteers in 5th SS Division 'Wiking'
6 - Swedish Volunteers in the III.Germanisches SS-Panzer Korps
7 - Swedish War Correspondents
8 - Swedish Mountain Troops
9 - Swedish SS Volunteers in Various Combat Formations
10 - Swedish Non-combatants in SS Service
11 - Post-war Life and Consequences
Appendix: Swedish National Insignia in the SS
Author: Lars T. Larsson