Historisk Tidskrift. Utgiven av Svenska historiska föreningen
  Hem Aktuellt  Tidigare nummer Bli Medlem  Annonsera Om Historisk Tidskrift  För skribenter  Föreningen In English

Historisk tidskrift 125:4 • 2005

Innehåll (Contents) 2005:4

Uppsatser (Articles)

”Tyskarna själva gör ju ingen hemlighet av detta.” Sverige och ariseringen av tyskägda företag och dotterbolag

Sven Nordlund

Fulltext (pdf)


”The Germans themselves make no Secret about this”. Sweden and the Aryanisation of German-owned Companies and Subsidiaries

An important but neglected aspect of the international Aryanisation process is that of the German subsidiaries. Aryanisation of subsidiaries occurred in Sweden during the 1930s as well as during the Second World War. This type of Nazi racist policy was intensified during 1940–1942, a period that coincided with the heydays of Nazi-German military power and the efforts to integrate neutral bystanders such as Sweden into the so called ”Neuordnung”. The Aryanisation of the subsidiaries never provoked any official Swedish reactions. To a certain extent this might be explained by the fact that the government and businesses had no legal means to interfere in the internal affairs of the subsidiaries. The Swedish silence, it seems, was also influenced by national commercial considerations. We do not know how common it was for Swedes to exploit the Aryanisation of the subsidiaries for their own interests. It is, however, quite evident that some Swedish firms and entrepreneurs had no moral qualms about exploiting the possibilities created by the Aryanisation of the subsidiaries. Some Swedes who saw the possibilities of personal gain saw Aryanisation as ”business as usual,” in a manner similar to how recent studies have shown some of the Swiss to have reacted. However this study reveals that the attitudes and behaviour of the Swedes cannot be described only in terms of ”black or white”. Swedish courts defended Jewish refugees with respect to subsidiaries and their rights to protect their assets from Nazi confiscation. They did so by using the legal weapon of ordre public. The courts, however, used the weapon of ordre public in a selective way. In cases when Jewish rights and demands were violated after the date of the Aryanisation in Germany or the equivalent action in Austria and the Sudetenland the principle of ordre public was not used. It could then provoke Nazi-German reactions that could jeopardise Swedish economic interests. In this context, commercial considerations seem to have played a greater role than rights to Swedish courts. It also seems that the Germans did not carry through the Aryanisation of subsidiaries during 1940–1942 if this would jeopardise their economic interests on the Swedish market. Such behaviour suggests that in certain fields the Swedish economy had a similar key role to the German economy as the economy of neutral Switzerland had in other fields.