Escape from the Third Reich: Folke Bernadotte and the White Buses, Sune Persson

Escape from the Third Reich: Folke Bernadotte and the White Buses, Sune Persson

In the few weeks of the Second World War a Swedish and Danish rescue effort managed to transport at least 17,000 prisoners from German concentration camps to safety in Sweden.

The Swedish effort began in response to rumours that the Germans were planning to murder all of the surviving inmates of their concentration camps, including a large number of Danes and Norwegians and a smaller number of Swedes. Eventually around 8,000 Danes and Norwegians would be rescued, along with nearly 6,000 Poles, 2,500 French, 1,600 stateless Jews and members of at least twelve other nationalities.

The central figure in this rescue was Count Folke Bernadotte, the leader of the Swedish side of the expedition. He had the unenviable task of negotiating with some of the senior Nazi leadership, meeting Himmler four times, and was slowly able to get more and more concessions until eventually entire trainloads of people were able to reach safety. Bernadotte's reputation suffered unfairly in the post-war period, especially after he was murdered by Jewish terrorists in 1948. Persson's volume should go a long way towards restoring that reputation.

This book provides a rare view into the chaos inside Nazi Germany in the last few months of the war, with some senior Nazis scrambling for a way out, while others remained delusional right to the end, claiming that a new secret weapon would lead to victory even in the last week of the fighting!

Part of the success of the White Buses can be put down to a collapse in belief in ultimate victory on the part of most senior  Nazis, combined with Himmler's increasingly delusion view of his possible role in a post-war Germany, but most credit has to go to the Swedes and Danes who risked their lives on long journeys into Germany, despite the danger from  Nazi fanatics or Allied aircraft. This book is a fitting tribute to their courage.

1 The Rescue
2 The Realm of Death: Hitler's Germany
3 The Jews and the Holocaust
4 Norway under German Occupation
5 The Danish People Under German Occupation
6 Sweden's Balance Between Neutrality and Activism
7 Folke Bernadotte and the Swedish Relief Expedition
8 The White Buses: Neuengamme
9 The White Buses: Night and Fog
10 The White Buses: Theresienstadt
11 The White Buses: Ravensbrück
12 Operation Rescue Norway!
13 Final Days

Author: Sune Persson
Edition: Hardcover
Pages: 274
Publisher: Frontline
Year: 2009

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