Europe

Former Swedish PM Needles Norway, Denmark With Divisive WW2 Tweet

In response to Carl Bildt’s suggestion that Sweden would have given a finer account of itself against Nazi Germany, many pointed out Stockholm’s questionable World War II “neutrality”, which many see as outright collaboration with Hitler.

Former Swedish Prime Minister Carl Bildt has enraged the Scandinavian country’s immediate neighbours by suggesting in a tweet that had Sweden been invaded by Nazi Germany, it would have fared better and put up a stronger fight than Denmark and Norway did.

In a tweet to commemorate the 81st anniversary of the invasion of Denmark and Norway, Carl Bildt, who served as prime minister between 1991 and 1994 and later as a foreign minister between 2006 and 2014 and remains active as a pundit and commenter, claimed that Nazi Germany and its leader Adolf Hitler would have struggled to invade Sweden in the same way.

​On April 9, 1940, German troops first invaded Denmark, whose government capitulated after a only few hours for fear of the capital, Copenhagen, being bombed. On the same day, Norway was invaded; however, with British and French help, it was able to resist the Germans until June.

Sweden, by contrast, remained formally neutral, allowed Nazi Germany to use its railways to transport military personnel, weapons, and associated ammunition. Sweden also maintained its vast export of iron ore to Nazi Germany intact, thus fuelling its war machinerey.

These particular details were emphasised by enraged Danes and Norwegians, who rushed to put the former prime minister in his place.

“The former Prime Minister of Sweden with this week’s most stupid tweet,” former Norwegian footballer Jan Aage Fjortoft wrote.

​“Charming message from the nation that let hundreds of thousands of German soldiers through its country to help Hitler keep Norway under the iron boot,” Norwegian Reds party member Mímir Kristjánsson tweeted.

​“I’ll always remember my history teacher, in Sweden, explaining Swedish neutrality during WW2:

‘At the start of WW2, we were neutral on the German side. At the end of the war, we were neutral on the Allied side’”, another mused.

​Still others used no words, but posted a picture of King Gustaf V of Sweden, who many describe as Nazi-friendly due to his pro-Germnan stance, in the company of Nazi German military and political leader Hermann Göring.

​Furthermore, Bildt’s comment was called “thoughtless”, “devoid of history” and “tasteless”.

Sylvi Listhaug, the deputy leader of Norway’s Progress Party, called Bildt’s comment misjudged and made the same historical argument.

“It’s extremely rash of a former Swedish prime minister to come out with this kind of comment when we all know the role Sweden played in the war while both Denmark and Norway were invaded by the Germans,” she told the newspaper Verdens Gang. “While we were under pressure, Sweden allowed the Germans to transport both weapons and soldiers through their country during the war.”

Carl Bildt served as prime minister of Sweden from 1991 to 1994 and topped the liberal-conservative Moderate Party from 1986 to 1999. Bildt also served as foreign minister between 2006 and 2014.

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