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- Location: Sweden
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I remember hearing a story somewhere that BOAC (British civil airline) used to operate unarmed Mosquitos with civilian markings that would fly from Britain to Sweden at night, and fly back a couple of nights later with a cargo of ball bearings.
SAS (or it's wartime equivalent) used to operate a regular airline service from Gothenburg to Scotland, flying a neon red DC-3. At least one was shot down by the Luftwaffe.
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The German threat to Sweden
General Major Adolf von Schell was commissioned to draft the German attack plan against Sweden. Six divisions had been needed for a successful invasion according to Schell's calculations. But how close was Germany to putting the plan into practice?
In mid-February 1942, the government approved a mobilization of large parts of the Swedish defense. This meant that Swedish preparedness reached one of its highest levels with nearly 300,000 men under arms at the end of the same month. At least during the war, one fifth was as many, 60,000, in service.
Throughout the fall of 1941, rumors of a German attack against Sweden had circulated and they continued at the beginning of 1942. Finally, neither the commander Olof Thörnell nor the government could ignore the warnings; all had the fate of Denmark and Norway on April 9, 1940, in fresh memory.
German threat to the coast
The Swedish strength building in February 1942 took place mainly in southern and central Sweden in order to meet German landings on the coast and possible air landings on the great islands of Vänern and Vättern, but there was also a construction in Norrland and Jämtland.
One reason why the threat of German landings was most serious was that the Swedish military intelligence service knew that the German gangs in Norway did not prepare an invasion along the land border, while it was uncertain about the situation in Germany and the Baltic States.
Allied attack against Norway
What lay as the basis for speculation about a German invasion was the rumors that they would be landed along the Norwegian coast in order to support the Red Army on the eastern front. It had become a second front that severely obstructed German efforts to conquer the Murmansk area.
In Sweden, the assessment was made that the Allied invasion probably would not happen just then, but that Germany could attack Sweden for preventive purposes in order to secure its northern flank before commencing its summer offensive in the eastern front of 1942.
A number of rumors and assessments flourished, which caused concern at the Swedish military leadership and the assembly government, but they soon realized that the threat was excessive and the preparedness was stepped down.
1943 biggest threat
The February crisis was one of the times during the war, as Swedish preparedness was the greatest. Other occasions were during the Finnish winter war (November 1939 to March 1940), the time after the German attack on Norway and Denmark on April 9, 1940 and finally in autumn 1943 when the agreement with Germany on transit traffic was terminated.
The only occasion that there was a proper German force on its way in Norway that could be directed directly to Sweden was during the spring and summer of 1943. There was also a plan.
Adolf von Schell's attack plan
In February 1943, General Major Adolf von Schell, Commander of the 25th Army Division in Norway, ordered an investigation into a German attack on Sweden. As it did not seem urgent, Schell took good time and only after a return from the Army High Court in Norway, he left the plan on April 6th.
It claimed a total of six German Assault Assault Divisions, two of which were Armored Division and a Motorized Division. This would have corresponded to more than 100,000 men, 250 artillerie caliber 10.5 cm or larger and at least 400 tanks and storm cannonbars if the gangs were at full force.
Two divisions against Östersund
The plan was divided into two operations, and Army High Commissioner Operations, Bernhard von Lossberg, felt that both were required for a quick occupation of Sweden.
The Northern Assault Force would originate from Trondheim and Röros towards Östersund and consist of an infantry division and a armored division. After Östersund it was the coast at Sundsvall that was applicable.
The southern attack force would consist of four divisions where the motorized would pass Falun, Avesta and Uppsala on their way to the Stockholm area while the armored division would cross Ludvika and Västerås.
The flank divisions were to be introduced via Vänern and Karlstad and Filipstad against Västerås. In addition, smaller landings in the north (perhaps Örnsköldsvik area) and the Roslagen would be carried out as well as smaller landings on vital objects.
These forces were not available in Norway, where almost all divisions were bound in the defense of the coast. An infantry division and a future armored division were what was in reserve at the beginning of 1943.
Panzer III and Panzer IV
Schell wrote after the war that the plan was a desk product. Their own strength was designed according to the needs of the terrain and the opponent, that is, the Swedish forces.
In the plan he assumed that none of the Swedish tanks, which had 37 mm cannon as weapons, would be a problem for the new German Panzer III tanks, with a long 5 cm cannon, or Panzer IV, with a long 7.5 cm cannon.
However, very few of these were delivered to the German forces in Norway. Of the 191 tanks that existed in the summer of 1943, only 59 were modern Panzer III and Panzer IV. Sweden had as many tanks as the Germans, but new deliveries were in progress.
The German fleet was involved in the invasion plans and saw no major problems in managing its Swedish counterpart, but had a number of serious objections. A risk that the navy emphasized was that the Baltic Sea was lost as a submarine training area if it became a battle zone.
Other objections were that an invasion would cause problems with maintenance transport to Finland, that Swedish iron ore exports would be eliminated as well as transit traffic through Sweden to the Norwegian ports where the German fleet, among other things, had its heavy vessels. In addition, there was a risk that US and British flights could intervene if Sweden did not get out quickly.
There were also concerns that the Red Fleet, which was enclosed at Kronstadt and Leningrad, could dare to an eruption which would make the Baltic Sea a full-scale battle zone. From the point of view of the German Navy, it was more important to conquer Leningrad than attack Sweden.
Degeneration of officers
A study conducted by OKW 1942 claimed that Sweden did not possess any operational offensive ability. The entire Swedish armed forces were built for defense and disarmament, while offensive moveable seizures were lacking, which minimized the risk of a Swedish counterattack. It was thought that the Swedish tanks were essentially a support weapon for the infantry.
Similar opinions were also found in the British military intelligence's material about the Swedish defense. Among other things, the British thought that a degeneration of the officers had taken place since the battle at Leipzig in 1813 and that Swedish officers only thought local defense. In addition to this, a number of deficiencies were pointed out, especially within the air force and armor groups.
OKW worried about attacks against Norway
Hitler and the German superman (OKW) worried throughout the occupation of Allied landings along the Norwegian coast, where there were a number of Allied Command Courts.
The number of coastal charter batteries increased enormously in 1942 when the Atlantvale was expanded, while the German army in Norway had grown to twelve divisions or 166,000 men. It was primarily engaged as a coastal defense along the long coast and had no resources for an attack against Sweden.
During the spring of 1943, Hitler would create a strong reserve in Norway so that the master there, Nikolaus von Falkenhorst, had freedom of action. At the end of April, Hitler decided that the reserve in the late autumn of 1943 would consist of four infantry divisions and two armor divisions, of which Schell's 25th pants division was one.
The new armorial division would be created by ties backed from the eastern front, perhaps it was the 26th panning division that was being formed in France as Hitler thought.
Falkenhorst's reserves were depleted
But in July 1943, it was sent to Italy, while OKW informed Falkenhorst that neither of the new infantry divisions would come to Norway. They were needed at other warships and the thoughts of a strong reserve in Norway began to be eroded.
On August 20, orders for the 25th pants division were transferred to France. The reason for the drastic change was that Hitler no longer had the freedom of action he had in April 1943. The third victory of Charkov in March had the highest leadership to start hoping for new victories in the east.
German adversities in Kursk and Sicily
But it was only a temporary swing in the war, then the German opposites came with the summer offensive at Kursk, the Soviet conquests of Belgorod and Orjol, as well as the allies' landing in Sicily. Hitler could no longer take advantage of luxury to build and hold a reserve for six divisions in Norway, as it would be necessary for allied landings or attacks against Sweden.
The military threat to Sweden that was being built in Norway in the spring of 1943 was completely gone during the fall of the same year and would never return.
The big threat to Sweden was not actually Adolf Hitler when he seemed pleased as long as the iron ore came in exchange for German coal and Sweden did not cause too much trouble. Hitler had a strong focus on economic issues and what he considered that Germany needed from Sweden was the ore. The delivery of it worked so Hitler was calm.
British satisfied with Swedish concessions
On the other hand, he was disappointed in Sweden in another question. After the story of history's largest field train had begun in 1941, his invasion of the Soviet Union, Sweden's reaction was lukewarm. The country that almost always had war with Russia did not seem to care.
Sweden's remission to Germany was to allow German 163th Infantry Division to travel through Sweden through Sweden. This did not impress Hitler but, on the other hand, the British military intelligence service who considered that the Swedes did not give up too much, but rather seemed surprised that it was only a division.
Allied landing biggest threats
The major threat to Sweden during the war was rather the British Prime Minister Winston Churchill. Not because he wanted to start a war with Sweden but because he wanted to land in Norway. This had meant that the British had cut off the German possibility that the seaway strengthened its troops in Norway. The only option of the Germans had been through Sweden.
The British themselves realized that they were actually the biggest threat to Sweden or as they wrote in secret reports in the summer of 1942: "It is unlikely that Germany would invade Sweden unless we invade Norway." Now, never came a Allied landing even though Churchill had it up on the agenda several times. Hitler never had to make the decision to attack Sweden to secure control over Narvik and Norway.
Published in Military History 4/2013
by Anders Frankson
https://militarhistoria.se/1900-tal/and ... ot-sverige