ccording to the German Invasion plans of 1939 and 1940, Sweden was a sweet target for the Germans as it housed many iron ore mines that would be required in order for Germany to sustain a constant production of military armament. But first, the initial invasion of the Scandinavian region was Denmark and Norway for various reasons such as good strategic points for additional bases of operations for the Kriegsmarine (German Navy) and heavy water supply from Norsk Hydro in Vemork.
The original plan of invasion into the Scandinavian region drawn up by the OKW (“Oberkommando der Wehrmacht” High Command of the Armed Forces) was to invade all three countries one after another knowing that the German Army would face a small force of resistance. The plan stated that they would also receive support from the fifth column of pro-Nazi Norwegians led by Vidkun Quisling.
The change of the original plan designed by the OKW came when a big staff meeting took place with various heads of the OKW and Hermann Goering, the head of the Luftwaffe (German Air Force) at the time. The reason why he was summoned to the meeting was to be briefed on the air force’s role in Operation Weserubung, as the attack on Scandinavia was code-named. When Hermann heard that Sweden was one of the targeted countries he immediately left the meeting and went directly to Hitler to request that Sweden not be attacked.
Hermann Goering (1893–1946)
Hermann Goring was seen as Hitler’s right-hand man by many historians, this is because Hitler liked him due to the strong figure he presented as a political member in the Nazi Party. Hermann Goring was also the head of the Luftwaffe, the German Air Force of the Second World War. He managed to reach this rank as he was an Ace pilot in World War I and is still considered one of the best pilots of the 20th century as well as the father of “dogfighting” (aviation combat). Every soldier from the Third Reich was frightened of Hermann for his intimidating personality and the little to no fear he presented on the battlefield.
The reason why Hermann did not want Sweden to be attacked was because of his long-lasting relations with Sweden and its politicians. A few years after the end of World War I, he married a Swedish lady by the name of Carin von Kantzow. He was so in love with her and her country that he even named his mansion in Berlin in her honor (Carinhall). During this time he made many relations in the form of friendships to which he promised if World War II came, Sweden’s neutrality would be respected, as long as the Swedes kept shipping iron ore to the Reich.
When Hermann approached Hitler with this issue he argued that it is not only a case of losing his relations but also his honor and Hitler knew that Hermann was a true man of honor. At first, Hitler balked as he knew how important the iron ore mines in Sweden were for a continuous production of armament, at which point Hermann threatened Hitler with his resignation from all of his offices. Hermann was much more valuable not only for Hitler but also for the success of the Third Reich, therefore Hitler ordered the OKW to exclude Sweden from the Invasion plans.
At the same time, the British were planning to occupy Narvik (Northern part of Norway) and Kiruna (Northern part of Sweden) in order to stop Sweden from selling or transporting iron ore to Germany. Thanks to the Germans being the first to invade Norway, they once again spared Sweden from war. This happened just a few days after Hitler’s orders to not invade Sweden.
Sweden should be thankful to Hermann Goering as without him they would have suffered from the atrocities of war. In fact, their relations with the Germans during World War II benefited them immensely as they were building up a strong financial power from exporting with the Germans, as well as the fact that they did not have to reinvest in infrastructure as most countries were affected by the Second World War.
Although Sweden never took part in the war, it was subjected to some naval confrontations between Britain and Germany.