Saturday, September 3, 2016

How ill-equipped for war, Sweden was in 1939? – Swedish daily newspaper

D a Swedish readiness at the beginning of World War II will typically characterized as erbarmlig. But how bad was it really? How much had been disarmed in the interwar period? The situation has not been exaggerated?

The basis for all analyzes of Sweden’s ability to defend itself in the 1930s, is the defense decision that was passed in the parliament May 26 1925. The reason was the conviction that the world after 1918 had entered a more peaceful era. The Swedish government wrestled additionally with high defense costs, sums that were anything but uncontroversial. Thus, the government appointed a defense inquiry submitted its proposal in 1923. It was based on the cost of defense would be reduced to 120 million per year, which was a decrease by 62 million annually, compared with the situation in 1914. But the parties were not unanimous.

the Conservatives wanted a stronger defense, partly because they perceived the Soviet Union as a threat. The Social Democrats wanted even deeper cuts, considering the future risk of war very small (and the risk grew at a later stage, you could always rearm only then, instead of putting the unnecessary money far in advance). The proposal was strongly supported by the Liberal, one of the liberal center parties.

Under the continuing debates succeeded the Social Democrats lower cost framework further, and the end result in 1925 was 107 million annually.

the result was a comprehensive disarmament. Military service time reduced to 140 days. Seventeen military units were closed down. For the defunct belonged Upplands Artillery Regiment (A 5), västergötland regiment (I 6), Kalmar Regiment (I 21), Scanian Hussar Regiment (K 5) and the Crown Prince’s Hussar Regiment (K 7). Navy’s procurement of new ships slowed. Many fortresses and fortress lines were discontinued. A modest improvement in quality, which bottomed in technological advances, was that two tank companies were set up. In addition, many units fought together. The Navy and Army air forces merged into the newly formed Air Force.

Not until 1936, when the international situation was tense than in the years after the First World War, the Swedish Parliament a new defense, but it did not move about some structural changes. The budget was adjusted so that the cost framework henceforth stood at 148 million per year. This benefited mainly the Air Force, whose funding increased from 11 to 28 million. Otherwise went the changes most on modernizing and streamlining existing defense capabilities.

The conclusion can only be one: when World War II broke out three years later the Swedish defense anything but well prepared for possible participation in a armed conflict.


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