Folks, this story was interesting to me, not only because I learned that Sweden helped the Nazis stop Germans and Jews marrying and suppressed criticism of Hitler and reports of atrocities, but also because I heard – at least, for me, a clear explanation on what the impact was of a nation remaining neutral during wartime.
What is neutrality? What is ambiguity? What are the morals of neutrality and how is morality affected by remaining neutral during wartime?
Jan Larsson of the Swedish Research Council, author of a summary of the studies, said Sweden needed to produce conclusive research so that it could move forwards after years of foreign studies criticizing Sweden for its “ambiguous” war record.
How can a nation remain “ambiguous” when the citizens of other nations are being slaughtered by murderous regimes?
Mr. Larsson states that Sweden had a problem with the morals of neutrality. Because Sweden was neutral, no one can know if they did the right thing in World War II. Clearly, the “moral responsibilities” of neutrality are not black and white.
Sweden’s wartime reputation was partly salvaged by diplomat Raoul Wallenberg saving thousands of Hungarian Jews from Nazi death camps. But until 1941 it turned away German Jews unless they were political refugees, such as communists.
In a later change of heart, in 1943 Sweden gave shelter to about 7,000 Danish Jews saved from the Nazis by their non-Jewish neighbors, and saved many Norwegian Jews from death camps.
But a recent study by the Living History Forum suggests that one in 20 Swedes still has strong anti-Semitic views and over a third were “ambivalent” towards Jews.
It is no surprise, folks, that the elite – not just in Sweden, but over all of Europe – had questionable contacts with Nazis.
Regardless, at least, Sweden is coming to terms with its “ambiguous” past.