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Sweden Intervenes During the Winter War

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  • Sweden Intervenes During the Winter War

    Within the Swedish military, officers who had been volunteers in the Finnish civil war were now senior officers. Most notable among them were Axel Rappe, a member of the General Staff, and Archibald Douglas, commander of the Northern Army Corps.

    The belief that Sweden was best served by a defense in Finland was enacted primarily by Douglas, whose Northern Army Corps comprised around 26,600 men who had been mobilised to guard the Swedish border with Finland in case the Russians invaded. He reasoned that the best way he could defend Sweden was to move into Finland and meet the Russians there. When the Russians had reached a certain point inside Finland, the whole Northern Army Corps would move across the border and take up positions along the Kemi river, all without approval of the Swedish government.

    The fact that the Swedish government did not get news of Douglas' plan right away makes it entirely possible that the plan could have been implemented. However, when they did find out, and the plan was scrapped, Douglas was allowed to retain command and later rose to become Chief of the Army.
    I'd heard a little about Douglas before, but I can't recall the original source of information, and I don't know anything about Axel Rappe. Is it true that they planned unilateral deployment of the "Northern Army Corps" to Finland's aid during the Winter War?

    The references to the government initially being unaware of the plan--how did they find out? Did Douglas attempt to put it into motion; was this "certain point inside Finland" crossed by the Soviets? If so, what would the likely result of this Swedish intervention have had on the course of the war? Would the Allies, eager to secure the iron ore mining district in northernmost Sweden surrounding the mining towns of Gällivare and Kiruna, have been more likely to deploy forces to Petsamo and Narvik in neutral Norway (with a view to "aiding" the Swedes, whether they liked it or not), thus bringing the Allies into direct conflict with the Soviets? How many of the thousands of foreign volunteers--fascist and democrat alike--who went to Finland to fight the Bolsheviks have seen action with these reinforcments prolonging the Finnish conflict (historically most of them were within days of operational deployment before the armistice)?

    On another forum a contributor made reference to a "2nd Army Corps commanded by Douglas", which I suppose to be the "Northern Army Corps" mentioned above. It "consisted of two divisional headquarters which commanded 7 infantry regiments, 2 cavalry battalions and 7 or 8 artillery battalions", apparently. I hope that breakdown is of some help in tracking down information, and in determing the likely effect of Swedish deployment militarily.
    Last edited by Terranix; 14 Aug 07, 05:58.

  • #2
    If Sweden had allied with Finland and declared war on the Soviet Union, I bet it would have gone something like this:

    Finland (with Sweden's help) kicks even more Soviet butt during the winter months, causing severe Soviet casualties.

    If they are lucky, one of too things will happen: the Soviets will get such a bloody nose that the Soviets call it quits, and an uneasy peace resumes.

    Or, with Sweden and Finland fighting the evil communists as a rallying cry, some other western nations get involved (perhaps to varying degrees).

    + Perhaps the Nazis would have sent a group to Finland ala the 'Condor Legion'? Of course, I doubt that Hitler would do this so soon after the Molotov-Ribbentropp (sp?) pact, (and because he's at war with France and the UK. . .) but he was already planning to betray the Soviets, so maybe he says 'Why not?'

    + Maybe Norway gets involved too: with Sweden at war, perhaps the Norwegians would feel some kind of 'Scandinavian Unity' or sumach.

    I doubt the UK or France would have done more than they already did: they had their own problems with Germany.

    If no other nations get involved, then Finlands chances don't look as good. And to be honest, most of those are very unlikely outcomes. I see it more or less going the historical way.

    Once spring comes, I bet the Soviets would begin to push the Fins/Swedes back due to their superior numbers. And if so, then I see the historical outcome: peace with the Soviets in exchange for all of the land (maybe only some, if the Scandinavians did well enough) that the Soviets initially wanted.

    If that is the case, and Sweden and Finland accept peace in exchange for some Finnish lands, then the second part of the question comes into play: would the Swedes have joined Finland againt the SU again when Germany got the Fins to join them when they launched Barbarossa?

    And how would the occupation of Norway have impacted the Swedes decision: would the desire for revenge, fear of Nazi invasion, or hope to retain some independence on the 'winning side' (to them at the time) by joining the Axis (or a combination) lead them to join in? Or would Sweden stay neutral the second time around?

    Lutefisk would be classified as a Biological weapon if the Swedes had been involved.


    • #3
      Two points:

      1) Very strong Socialist movement in Sweden so in the event of an intervention by the military in Finland of anything more than a nominal one the probability of insurrection and/or revolution becomes a factor. In actual fact the Govt. knew this and had more sense anyway.

      2) The USSR was pretty sure war with Germany was coming so they have to secure thier flank come what may. In all probability they throw even more troops at the problem and lose even more but still get what they want. Alternatively somebody uses the Siberians and it is all over in a couple of weeks. You can bet all that iron ore from Kiruna becomes part of the reparations.


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