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Sweden, the Swastika and StalinThe Swedish experience in the Second World War$
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John Gilmour

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780748627462

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: September 2012

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748627462.001.0001

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Shades of Neutrality? Political Challenges and Social Changes, 1900–1939

Shades of Neutrality? Political Challenges and Social Changes, 1900–1939

(p.7) 1 Shades of Neutrality? Political Challenges and Social Changes, 1900–1939
Sweden, the Swastika and Stalin

John Gilmour

Edinburgh University Press

Sweden a more progressive, modern, and urbanised country with the stirrings of social change amplified by an almost continuous Social Democratic presence in government from 1932. Swedish society under King Gustav V, remained stratified byclass, hobbled by deference. It was also characterised by a xenophobia directed particularly against the Jews although Swedes largely rejected extremist Nazi policies and brutality. Many Swedes were only one generation away from grinding poverty, disease and malnutrition, both urban and rural. Sweden’s modernisation, like its politics, was a gradual process. In 1939, the committed neutral remained as vulnerable to great powerpressure as in 1914–18 but had learned from that experience. Its neutrality policy was now based on self-interest and flexibility rather than purist and brittle legal interpretations of neutrality. Its defence policy investment was too little and too late and Per Albin, having cut expenditure on arms, was now faced with the foreign policy consequences.

Keywords:   First World War, King Gustav V, Social Democrats, Defence Policy, Foreign Policy, anti-Semitism, Per Albin

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