The Holocaust is the biggest genocide the world had witnessed throughout the history, with around 6 million Jews “exterminated” by Nazi Germany between 1941 and 1945 during World War II.
Nazis, the main architect of the exodus for Jews from their homelands across Europe and the culprits of this greatest crime against humanity, had knowing or hesitant accomplices amongst some countries that now form the European Union – the now-champions of human rights.
Despite later efforts to save some European Jews from their atrocious end in Nazi death camps toward the end of the war, Sweden has got a dark part in Holocaust with its so-called “neutral” state during the war.
“Swedes have long enjoyed the illusion of innocence, of freedom from Nazi-related guilt, but now, amid a welter of revelations, the country is slowly coming to terms with an historical truth that is more complicated than the idealistic neutrality thought to have been maintained throughout the Second World War,” according to a report by The Independent penned in 2000 by Mats Wiklund.
The author argued that a documentary laid bare the fact that some 900 Swedish soldiers volunteered to fight alongside Nazi troops and some were stationed as guards at Treblinka, a concentration camp in forest north-east of the Polish capital Warsaw.
Wiklund said the involvement of those soldiers have never been investigated after the war by Swedish authorities while a manhunt led by allies managed to bring many Nazis and collaborators before justice after the war.
However, the “neutral” involvement of Sweden in those horrific crimes against the Jews was not limited to providing soldiers for Nazis.
Sweden’s immigration policy and especially the 1927 Aliens Act, which aimed to protect jobs for Swedish citizens and keep “unwanted groups of people” from settling in the country, listed Jews as one of the categories of “unwanted immigrants,” according to The Swedish Jews and the Holocaust, a book by Pontus Rudberg.
Rudberg’s book says that Jewish refugees “were not considered political refugees, and only a few relatives and other with ties to Sweden and financial means could be admitted for temporary residence,” in the early years of the Nazi occupation of numerous countries in Europe.
Tony Kushner, a professor at the University of Southampton, thinks that “there was a sort of Nordicism, which typifies others Scandinavian countries, from 1900s through to the 1930s.”
Speaking to Anadolu, Kushner said on the claims that some of those involved in atrocities of the war found refuge in countries such as the US, UK, and also Sweden that “many countries … were not asking too many questions about people's war backgrounds.”
He said: “In certain cases, … some of these people are recruited not because they're Nazis but because they've got skills, scientists and others.
“But what you could criticize all of these liberal democracies for is not having that as a priority to sort of weed out war criminals, and so Sweden is certainly not alone in lacking policies.”
An information text by Yad Vashem -- Israel's official memorial museum to the victims of the Holocaust -- says that “depending on the course of the war, the Swedes sometimes tended to act more pro-German, while at other times, they supported the policies of the Allies.”
“This affected their attitude towards Jewish refugees. At the beginning of the war, Sweden's neutrality swayed in Germany’s favor.”
The Swedish government “gave Germany iron ore, a vital war industry product” and “allowed Germany the use of its railroads and coastal waters to move soldiers and war materials to Norway,” according to Yad Vashem.
Sweden also “enjoyed the profits of doing business with the Nazis,” Wiklund argued.
Some of the gold handled by its central bank, the Riksbank, had been “looted from Jews by the German Nazis” and “there was evidence at the time that the gold was plundered but both the management of the Riksbank and the government turned a blind eye,” he also said.
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