World War I: Sweden

Sweden World War I
Figure 1.--Here we see an unidentified group of boys dressed up in what looks like German-oriented uniforms. We think the boys are Swedish given the flag in the background, byt Danish is another posibility. All we know for sure about the image is that the postcard back says '1918'.

Sweden had been a major Baltic Power. The growing power of Russia and Prussia, however meant that Swedrn by the mid-19th century could not hope to compete miilitarily with either power. This and the gradual liberal reforms transforming the country into a democracy all led o growing support for neutrality as a mational policy. And German unification had created a major power beining pece to the Baltic for more thn 40 years. The growth of Socialism in Sweden created more support fior moth neutrality and pacifism. Political divisions tended to fall along thge same fault line as political divisions. Conservatives sympathiesed with Germany. Liberals had more mixed sympathies. The Social Democrats were a third less importat political party. They tended to be both anti-militarist and pacifist. Swedish neutralism was reinforced when both Denmark and Norway chose to remainneutral. The kings of the three Scandinavian countries met in Malmö to make a joint declaration of absolute neutrality (December 1914). While neutral, the Swedish public had considerable sympathy for the Germans. Here there were both cultural and kniship ties, although there were also trade ties with Britain and France. While cneutrality dominated the public debate, King Gustaf was pro-German. Families toes were importat. Both his mother and wude, Queen Victoria, were Germans. Many conservatives lso strongly supported the Germans. Some even advocated entering the War on the German side. He delivered a speech written by explorer Sven Hedin which seem to favor entering the war on Germany’s side (February 6, 1915). Public opinion hekd them back. Even so, the government's policy had a clearly pro-German bias. The Swedish public, however, had no desire to enter the War and thus Sweden remained neutral. Sweden had significant trade links with Germany. Sweden in particular shipped iron ore to Germany which supported the Grman armaments industry. The Baltic was essentially a German lake and the Royal Navy could not interdict these shipments. Some of the ore shipments, however, were shipped through Norwegian ports. The Royal Navy could interdict these shipments. Diplomatic pressure from Britain and France had some success in reducing other Swedish shipments to Germany. Other factors included food shortages and rebellious talk. The Government abandioned its pro-German policies (1916). Most Swedes wee increasingly coming to the opinion that strict neutrality shold be the path for their country. A new, less pro-German conservative cabinet which decided to calm developing social unrest with democratic reforms. This firmly cemented Sweden's neutralist and would soon lead to the political dominance of Social Democrats in the 20th century. The terrible casualties reported by World War I combatants only confirmd the opinion of most Swedes that neutrality was the approprite policy for Sweden.


Navigate the CIH World War I Pages:
[Return to the main Swedish history]
[Return to the main Main World War I Neutrality]
[Return to the main Main World War I Countries]
[Aftermath] [Alliances] [Animals] [Armistace] [Causes] [Campaigns] [Casualties] [Children] [Countries] [Declaration of war] [Deciding factors] -------[Diplomacy] [Economics] -------[Geo-political crisis] [Home front] [Intelligence]
[Military forces] [Neutrality] [Pacifism] [People] [Peace treaties] [Propaganda] [POWs] [Russian Revolution] [Signals and intelligence] [Terrorism] [Trench warfare] ------[Technology] ------[Weaponry]
[Bibliographies] [Contributions] [FAQs] [Images] [Links] [Registration] [Tools]
[Return to Main World War I page]
[Return to Main war essay page]

Created: 11:24 PM 8/26/2012
Last updated: 11:24 PM 8/26/2012