Scandinavia

Question:

I'm looking for information on The Holocaust and Scandanavia. I've read plenty about Denmark, but don't seem to remember much about Norway and Sweden. If you can recommend a web article, it would be appreciated. Thank you,

Harry W. Mazal OBE answers:

I am one of the volunteers in the Project who responds to questions from our readers. It is possible that you will get other responses from my colleagues.

I have number of books that deal with the Holocaust in Scandinavia. For example:

Norway's Response to the Holocaust : An Historical Perspective
Samuel Abrahamsen
Hardcover
Published by United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Jan 1991
ISBN: 0896041166

You might also wish to visit the following sites on the WWW.

http://www.dmt.oslo.no/

Is a web-site operated by the Jewish community in Norway. They have text in both Norwegian and English. One of their pages: http://www.dmt.oslo.no/english/1e.html

deals with the problems of restitution of property. Another:

http://www.dmt.oslo.no/english/1e.html

covers some aspects of the Holocaust in Norway. You might also try sending them an e-mail to obtain specific information:

Det Mosaiske Trossamfund i Oslo
Bergstien 13
Postboks 2722
0131 Oslo
tel: + 47 22 69 65 70
fax: + 47 22 46 66 04
e-mail: kontor@dmt.oslo.no

According to: RELIGIOUS INTOLERANCE IN EUROPE TODAY
THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 18, 1997
Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, Washington, DC.
http://www.house.gov/csce/hearing.htm

There are only a small number of Jews in Northern Europe:

Denmark: Around 8,000, mainly in Copenhagen- Almost all were rescued from ultimate Nazi deportation by being smuggled in fishing boats to neutral Sweden. Some Soviet Jews have more recently settled in Denmark.

Finland: About 1,300 between Helsinki and Furku.

Netherlands: About 30,000, of whom two-thirds in Amsterdam are the vestiges of a once-great Jewish cultural center. Over 10,000 perished in the Holocaust.

Norway: 1,000, mostly in Oslo, with a small community in Trondheim, including some recent arrivals from Poland and Russia,

Poland: The official community comprises some 6,000, mostly in Warsaw, with less than 100 respectively in Cracow, Lodz and Wroclaw. Several hundred closet ethnic Jews emerged in rapidly changing post-Communist conditions. Among the Solidarity movement, there were prominent figures of Jewish origin. The size of the community is almost irrelevant to the persistence of anti-Semitic expression, which is not mitigated by improving relations with Israel. As the greatest Jewish cemetery in history or geography, the Holocaust of some 3,000,000 Polish Jews is both a point of contact through ``pilgrimage'' missions and, at times, an exacerbating factor.

Sweden: The approximately 16,000 Jews, including recent arrivals from Poland and Russia, reside mainly in Stockholm, with small communities in Gothenburg and Malmo. Issues: Neo-Nazi activity has been increasing and the common interest in Holocaust Denial has led to joint activity with the fundamentalist and violently anti-Semitic Stockholm-based Radio Islam. Closed down after the SWC's protest, the radio station's director, Ahmed Rami, is now broadcasting on the Internet.

I hope that this information will help you delve deeper into the subject.

Yours sincerely,

Harry W. Mazal OBE

Andrew Mathis responds:

I am one of the volunteers who answers questions for the Holocaust History Project.

My colleague, Harry Mazal, has already given you ample information concerning the Holocaust in Norway, and you say that you have read about Denmark's situation during the Holocaust.

Regarding Sweden, it was neutral during WWII, and unlike other neutral countries -- for instance, Belgium -- it was not invaded by the Nazis at any point. This was probably because, like Switzerland (also neutral), it provided the Nazis with needed resources -- in the case of Sweden, this was steel to build Panzer tanks.

This dealing with Nazi Germany notwithstanding, as you're probably aware, Sweden took in 98% of Denmark's wartime Jewish population. Furthermore, the Swedish government went to extraordinary means to save Jewish lives during the war. Most notable in these efforts was Raoul Wallenberg. Please see this article for information on him:

http://www.holocaust-history.org/questions/wallenberg-raoul.shtml

Finland was invaded by the Soviet Union in 1939 and surrendered in 1940. In return, Finland joined Nazi Germany in its 1941 invasion of the Soviet Union, though, surprisingly, few Finnish Jews died as a consequence. Nazi figures on the Jewish population of Finland in early 1942 listed 2,300 Jews in Finland, and their death toll was remarkably low.

Finally, Iceland was, at the onset of World War II, part of Denmark, but it was occupied early in the war by Allied Forces to prevent any possible attack on Canada or the U.S., and its small Jewish population remained protected.

Andrew E. Mathis, Ph.D.

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