Race, Rejection, Reception, Rescue and Redemption – Swedish Humanitarian Endeavours

John Gilmour

in Sweden, the Swastika and Stalin

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print March 2011 | ISBN: 9780748627462
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748671274 | DOI:
Race, Rejection, Reception, Rescue and Redemption – Swedish Humanitarian Endeavours

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  • Modern History (1700 to 1945)


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Racial study or eugenics had been legitimised in Sweden by enthusiastic support from leading politicians. It did not point a path to Auschwitz but rather towards sterilisation to prevent mental illness and disease . After 1933, the Swedish Government watched the measures adopted by the Nazis against the German Jews with distaste and concern but the twin concerns of the impact on employment and the effect on society effectively kept the numbers of Jewish immigrants at a low level. Even after the invasion of Poland and the stream of reports of atrocities, immigration policy continued to be restrictive. It was not until the autumn of 1942 that this policy eased. The shadow of the Holocaust fell on Norway in October 1942 when Jewish arrests began. Swedish immigration restrictions were lifted. 7,000 Danish Jews escaped to Sweden from a planned Gestapo round-up in autumn 1943. In 1944–5 ,Raoul Wallenberg went to Budapest as ‘First Secretary’ in the Swedish Legation. He issued thousands of Swedish protection passports to Jews, bribed officials and rented buildings to accommodate 10,000 of the new ‘Swedish citizens’.The Swedish Red Cross and ‘White Buses’ evacuated at least 7,000 women to Sweden and Denmark from Ravensbrück.

Keywords: Race; Sterilisation; Norwegian Jews; Danish Jews; Hungarian Jews; Raoul Wallenberg; Red Cross; ‘White Buses’; Holocaust; Balts

Chapter.  8090 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Modern History (1700 to 1945)

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