World War II: Sweden--Winter War Aid to Finland (1939-40)

Swedish aid to Finland Winter War
Figure 1.-- As best we can figure out these people in Göreborg have assembled in front of a church in the city center to spport an ambulance group aiding embattled Finland. The photograph is not dated, but looks like January 1940. Click on the image to see he information on the back. Let us know if you can figure out anything about the image.

After the NAZI-Soviet destruction of Poland (September 1939), Finland was the next country to be invaded. This time the Soviet Union acted alone. Small countries around the world including the Baltic countries had relied on neutrlity and the League of nations for their security. Bordering on NAZI Germany and the Soviet Union meant it was a very dangerous situation. And the League of Nations response to the Italian invasion of Ethiopia mean that a defense posture based on the League was chemerical. Finland was not a Scandanavia country, but had historical ties to Sweden. The two counties had discussed defense cooperation, especially over the Gulf of Finland, but no treaty was sighned. Neither country had a military establishmnt to resist a sustaimed attack by gheir powerful neigbors, even if they signed a mutual defense treaty. And their were political and strategic differences. Both Swedes and Finns differed on bilateral relations. Some Swedes saw Finnish politics as unstable, bordering on recklessmess. nd they differed on the treat. The Swedes tended to see NAZI Germany as the principal threat while the Finns saw the Soviet Union as the major threat. And several issues had mared their bilaterial relations in the inter-War era, including the Åland crisis, language strife, and the Lapua Movement. The two countries hoped to play the NAZIs and Soviets off each other given their seemingly implacable hostility. This was undone by the NAZI-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact (August 1939). The Swedes as much of the world were sympathetic toward the Finns when the Soviets invaded (November 1939). Sweden publicly spported Finland, but informed Finnish Foreign Minister Elias Erkko that Swedish would not become actively involved in the War. The Swedish Government was divided even over defending the Åland Islands. There were some volunteers which fought with the Finns and the Swedes delivered supplies to the embattled Finns. Much of this was done covertly, such as Swedish units losing equipment and material along the border. A factor here was the officers in charge of Swedish supply units converting the Swedish Army Stores at Boden as a Finnish supply base. Sweden refused, however, to openly and directly support te Finns militarily. Sweden refused to allow Britiain and France to send troops across Swedish territory. In retrospect this probably saved the Allies from what would have been a catotrophic mistake. Hitler hoped that Swedish sympathy for the Finns might enduce them to join his crusade against the Soviets.

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Created: 4:58 PM 8/29/2017
Last updated: 4:59 PM 8/29/2017