Footsteps In The Snow - The Swedish Intervention April-May 1945

Introduction
Part 1 - Introduction:

Though often considered little more than a footnote in the grand sweep of World War 2, Sweden’s participation in the last 7 days of the conflict in Europe would have significant repercussions on Nordic and European history in the decades that followed.

The Swedish Intervention (“Interventionen” as it is termed in Sweden and the rest of Scandinavia), as it is generally termed, marked the end of the prolonged period of neutrality or “The Policy of 1812”, which had been the cornerstone of the country’s foreign policy since the disasters of the Napoleonic Wars.

Sweden had avoided the first World War without too many problems but with the war between Russia and Finland in November 1939 and the escalation of the conflict between Nazi Germany and the Western Allies in the spring of 1940, the war came uncomfortably close to Stockholm. The manoeuvrings of the western allies and Germany ended with the latter seizing Denmark on April 9th and invading Norway the same day. By the end of May, the last allied troops had been evacuated from Narvik leaving Sweden surrounded by the Axis powers (the USSR was still in alliance with Germany at this point).

The subsequent fall of France in June left Sweden a neutral island in a sea of Axis satellites or conquered countries. It was clear in Stockholm that Hitler was the master of the European continent and future policy actions would have to be seen in the context of not wishing to antagonise Berlin.

The German invasion of Russia on June 22nd, 1941 changed the dynamic completely. Finland remined in the pro-German camp seeking revenge for the humiliation of spring 1940 and the loss, amongst other territory, of its then second city, Viipuri. Initially, the Finns helped the Germans push the Russians back to the edges of Leningrad.

Pressure grew from the West with the entry of the United States into the conflict in December 1941 and with the reverses at El Alamein and Stalingrad, it was clear to most in Stockholm by the spring of 1943, the fortunes of war had turned decisively against Berlin and its allies.

Sweden had preserved its neutrality by agreeing to continue the provision of iron ore to the Germans via transports through its territory to German occupied Narvik. In addition, the transportation of the 163rd Infantry Division and the permittentraffik of German soldiers travelling from Norway to Germany on leave had been examples where expediency had forced Sweden to bend the rules of neutrality to accommodate Germany’s wishes.

As the fortunes of war changed, so did the Swedish stance. German soldiers ceased being allowed to use Swedish trains in 1943, intelligence sharing with the western allies increased, and in 1944 the Swedes allowed the western allies to use its airbases. This was as much as previous policy a recognition of the realpolitik that was emerging.
 
Finland (September 1944 - April 1945)
Part 2 - Finland (September 1944 - April 1945):

On September 19th 1944, following the Vyborg-Petrozadovsk Offensive, the Finnish Government was forced to seek terms against the wishes of the Germans and signed the Moscow Armistice which not only forced Finland to break diplomatic ties with Germany but also compelled the Finns to disarm the remaining German forces in the country.

The Germans had foreseen the Finnish capitulation and had begun to withdraw back into Northern Norway first as Operation Birch and then as Operation Northern Light. The Finns had at first been content to allow the Germans to withdraw uncontested but under pressure from Moscow had been forced to adopt a more belligerent posture and this led to several minor engagements in the autumn of 1944.

The Continuation War, as it is called, between the retreating German forces and elements of the Finnish Army, was, in terms of the overall conflict, minor and the engagements more a series of sharp encounters than protracted set-piece battles.

Exigencies elsewhere meant the Germans could do little but make an orderly withdrawal in the face of Finnish pressure and, further north, Russian pressure which had seen Red Army forces cross into Norway in October 1944. The town of Kirkenes, close to the border, had been the scene of fierce fighting and by the time it fell on October 25th, was almost inhabitable. The Germans had forcibly expelled the population and herded the majority south and west as it has carried out a “Scorched Earth” destruction of all infrastructure.

By early 1945, the Germans had moved out of Finnmark and had established a new defence line in Troms. The Russians had made little or no move to pursue and this left a vacuum between the two armies which Norwegian resistance fighters, known as the Milorg, had filled. Those of the population who had escaped the Germans were forced to spend the Arctic winter in caves and other shelters (often provided by the Sami people) while the Milorg were helped by the Swedes covertly with the provision of food and fuel.

Meanwhile, the German withdrawal from Finland had moved close to the Swedish frontier and on 26th October 1944, the Swedes had been witness to the Finnish attempt to encircle the 6th SS Mountain Division at Muonio but this, along with other Finnish strategies, had failed because the Germans retained superiority in artillery and armour.

By the end of November, the Germans had withdrawn to a fortified line along the Lataseno River, just 60 miles from Norway, where they remained until early 1945 when a second withdrawal created a final defence line between the Lyngen Fjord and the Finnish village of Kilipsijarvi, not far from the tripole between Norway, Sweden and Finland. This would remain the German defence line until the Swedish Intervention in late April.
 
The German Perspective
Part 3 - The German Perspective:

As part of the periodic re-organisations of the German Command Structure, German Army Norway had ceased to exist in December 1944 and all occupation troops had become part of the 20th Mountain Army which, in January 1945, had passed under the command of General Franz Boehme with the transfer of Lothar Rendulic to Courland.

On paper, Boehme had an impressive force at his disposal but, as with most other German commands in early 1945, what theoretically existed on paper often bore scant resemblance to what existed in fact on the ground.

The Luftwaffe presence in Norway was minimal – deficiencies in many areas and the mauling received in aerial combat with British and latterly Russian combat aircraft along with the requirements of other fronts had denuded the air component of Boehme’s command. The Navy remained significant especially the U-Boats which were still operating out of the many fjord bases as well as surface naval vessels but the disasters in the Baltic and East Prussia starting with the Soviet offensive of January 1945 led to a significant re-allocation of naval forces from Norway to the south and east.

The priority, as the Soviets struck into Pomerania, was to evacuate as many civilians and soldiers as possible from those areas coming under Soviet military control. Years of propaganda, not unsupported by fact, led most German-speaking people in these areas to realise there was no future for them if the Russians took over – the propaganda suggested servitude, rape or worse.

What transpired was less an evacuation than a disorganised migration of an entire people – millions of them – from east to west. German speakers, who had lived for generations in Pomerania, East Prussia, Memel and elsewhere, packed up and left often in the shadow of Soviet artillery fire and under constant air attack from Soviet fighters.

Getting onto a transport was no guarantee of safety as the Baltic was now the battleground for Soviet submarines and patrol boats – the sinking of the Wilhelm Gustloff in late January 1945 with the loss of 9,000 people was the worst of many instances. The Kriegsmarine did what they could in terms of protecting the civilian convoys and transports until they reached the relative safety of Danish or German waters in the Kattegat.

Boehme also had the issue of Reichskommissar Josef Terboven with whom he enjoyed a less then straightforward relationship. In theory, Terboven had very little power and indeed had no responsibility over the armed forces under Boehme’s command. However, Terboven had his personal force of 6,000 or so SS troops and the Gestapo of around 800 men.

Indeed, Terboven did not even run the Government on a day-to-day basis – unlike most other occupied countries by this time, there was still a civilian administration running the country. In Norway, this was headed by Vidkun Quisling who had been appointed Prime Minister by Terboven in 1942. Publicly, Terboven argued for a “Festung Norge” but Boehme was acutely aware of the infirmity of that proposal.

The Russians had driven his forces out of Finnmark and while there was no sign of any Soviet desire to move further south into Troms, the situation in Tromso was chaotic with the normal population of the town swelled by those evacuated from the north.

Boehme recognised other threats to his command – the allies could land on the Norwegian coast and attempt to seize one of the major cities such as Bergen or could advance from the south having taken Denmark.

Boehme did not dismiss the threat of a Swedish intervention – the border was impossible to patrol along its entire length but he recognised the threat to Oslo and put the best of his forces along the main roads to the Swedish frontier with particular emphasis on the key town of Kongsvinger to the north east and the route from Scania to the south east.

Hitler was aware the 20th Mountain Army was one of the more significant military assets left to the Reich and on March 11th, 1945 he reluctantly agreed to its gradual transfer south for transport across the Skagerrak to Denmark to be part of the defence of Germany. The German High Command were also aware denuding the north (and especially Narvik) of significant defences would be an invitation to Sweden to join the war on the allied side but with the Rhine breached at Remagen a few days earlier and Russian forces on the Oder barely 40 miles from Berlin, the options were dwindling.

Boehme received the directive from Berlin in mid-March with a sense of resignation. He and his Staff Officers began working on a plan to disengage the strength of troops from the north and centre of Norway and prepare to re-group to the south and west to join the defence of the Reich itself.

SS Division Nord had already left and while Boehme could and indeed did claim he had 11 divisions on his command in March, the truth was many of them were under strength and/or under equipped. The decision to re-locate valuable assets such as 169th Division and 178th Division would compromise Boehme’s defensive options further and would provide significant problems when the Swedish assault came. He was able to retain 210th Coastal Division but that formation suffered further losses of men and equipment stretching its command from Stavanger to Tromso with the primary responsibility of defending the anchorages and U-Boat basis.

On the ground, the Norwegian Resistance Group, Milorg, soon became aware of troop movements in Trondeland and Troms which, while of no significance to the untrained eye, were quickly revealed as a deliberate thinning out of German defences.

Boehme realised by mid-April he was in charge of the perfect example of a “paper tiger”. He created some strongpoint defences around key cities, towns and road junctions but was under no illusions his command would fare any better than had those fighting the Americans, Russians or other allies.
 
The Swedish Perspective
Part 4 - The Swedish Perspective:

As the military tide had turned in favour of the allies, realpolitik had dictated a growing contact between Stockholm and the allied capitals. Relations with Moscow remained difficult because of the situation in Finland. However, there had been a significant improvement in relations with London and Washington.

Sweden shared the western consensus on the future of Norway as a democratic pro-western kingdom after the war but with the bulk of western military effort now in Germany and Italy and with the United States heavily involved in the Pacific, there were no allied resources capable of a sustained military campaign in Norway.

The 12,000 Norwegian troops who had escaped across the long border during the initial Occupation and in the years following were enthusiastic to fight their way back across the border, but they would be no match for Boehme’s forces even in the latter’s weakened state. Having observed the generally unsuccessful Finnish attempts to achieve a decisive military victory over the retreating Germans in Lapland, the Swedes knew the Norwegian troops on their own could only achieve a few transitory ambushes and the Milorg lacked any kind of heavy weapons.

The Swedes had used the wartime period to bolster their own defences to deter any German or Russian aggression. By 1945, the Swedish Armed Forces were formidable with 800 tanks, 30 destroyers, a powerful air attack force and, although most had never fired a shot, up to 20,000 “volunteers” had fought with the Finns against the Russians in 1939 and a smaller number had helped the Norwegian resistance albeit in a clandestine role.

The Swedish General Staff had also followed the wartime campaigns closely and while the official doctrine was “Total Defence”, an offensive capability clearly existed, and plans had long existed for a possible incursion into either Norway or Denmark. The allied advance into northern Germany had rendered plans for an incursion into Denmark largely redundant but the plan for Norway (titled Operation “Rettenorge”) had been developed as far back as 1943.

Intelligence both from the Milorg and from Swedish civilians, who were able to move freely across the border, meant the Swedes had a good idea of the German force strengths in Norway but of course the converse was true. Boehme knew and was worried about the Swedish forces which possessed high-quality equipment and were well trained but, as he saw it, lacked battle experience. This needed to compensate for the significant weaknesses in his own command which had been exacerbated by the thinning out of forces from mid-
 
Swedish Plans
Part 5 - Swedish Plans:

As the Swedes recognised the growing weakness in German strength, they began to become bolder in their own plans and the final version of Rettenorge, presented to the Cabinet on April 22nd, envisaged four significant attack fronts.

Two of the thrusts were aimed at Oslo – the first following the obvious path from the Swedish Frontier on the main highway from central Sweden from Norway. This would involve neutralising the key defence point of Kongsvinger, roughly halfway from the Swedish frontier to the Norwegian capital. This was the subject of more detailed planning which would pay dividends in the coming campaign.

The second thrust towards Oslo was from much further south and would follow the main road north from Gothenburg starting at the border town of Selater and heading due north on the roughly 70 miles to the Norwegian capital.

The aim was to encircle if not capture the Norwegian capital but also to provide the supporting Swedish Navy with a strong anchorage in the fjord with which to command the key area around the capital.

The other thrusts were aimed at Trondheim and Narvik with a supporting attack to help push the final German forces out of Finland.

There was no plan to occupy the whole of Norway but rather the hope that with a decisive military reverse, the Germans would sue for peace.

The Cabinet debated the plan into the 23rd April when it received news from its legation in Berlin that the German capital was now surrounded by the Red Army. There had been those in Swedish circles who had feared, even at this late stage, some form of German retaliatory move but the clear weakening of German armed forces was the final argument to proceed.
 
The German Plans
Part 6 - The German Plans:

While Boehme had seen periodic build-ups of Swedish forces close to the border, his reconnaissance reports were unambiguously clear – the Swedes were massing for an attack. Boehme had quickly defined the main elements of the Swedish attack and had moved the best of his forces toward Kongsvinger and Selater. Terboven had, on hearing the news, ordered a pre-emptive assault across the border but Boehme lacked the means and the will. He was under no illusions his patchwork of ill-equipped and under-strength infantry and armoured formations would do their best but against fresh well-equipped troops they could only hold for so long and there were no serious re-enforcements available.

Boehme had cobbled together a mobile reserve to defend Oslo and Terboven had ensconced himself at Skaugum with his personal SS guard but with many of his loyal fighters sent south to be lost in the conflagration in Germany itself, he had only a weak force.

Boehme knew he would lose control of the skies quickly and while some naval elements could assist in the defence of ports and naval bases, they would not be of much use in a land war.
 
The Fighting Starts
Part 7 - The Fighting Starts:

The night of April 26th-27th 1945 was calm and still over southern Scandinavia. Mild if not warm for the time of year but a few showers over the mountains.

The final briefings had been given several hours earlier and at just after 4.30am in the pre-dawn light the first Swedish aircraft took to the skies.

Half an hour later, the opening artillery barrage signalled the start of Rettenorge.

At the same moment, a Swedish Government official was knocking on the door of the German Embassy in Stockholm where a drowsy aide was handed the official note declaring war. With Berlin under fire, there had been no way to achieve direct contact with the German Government and even the Swiss Embassy had fled the city. It would later transpire the German Embassy in Stockholm still had some contact with Berlin via the military radio network but with the imminent fall of Zossen and the key telephone exchange, the only link left would be via Denmark to Murvik, where Grand Admiral Doenitz and his staff had escaped from Berlin soon after the Fuehrer’s birthday celebration on April 20th.

At the same time, the British, American and Russian Ambassadors in Stockholm were formally notified of Sweden’s entry into the war. The attack on German troops in Norway was not, the Swedes stressed, an attempt to join the allies formally but was the act of a co-belligerent aimed at the liberation of a fellow Nordic country suffering under the Axis heel.

Reaction in the allied capitals was mixed – the Americans were effusive in welcoming Sweden to the conflict, but Churchill had been less than complimentary about Swedish behaviour in 1940 and 1941 and was more guarded as was Stalin who reminded Sweden about Russian “interests” in Finland. Both Britain and the Soviet Union considered the Swedish action blatantly opportunistic, but the Swedes were helping sort out a problem the Allies could not currently resolve.

One immediate action was the opening of back channel communications at a command staff level between the Swedes and the allies. This would prove invaluable in the coming days as the allies consciously ensured the Swedes were kept aware of developments especially in Northern Germany and in the Baltic.
 
Day One (April 27th 1945)
Part 8 - Day One (April 27th, 1945):

Soon after 5.30am, Swedish patrol boats engaged German vessels in Swedish waters near Karlskrona and in the Kattegat. In addition, there were early naval engagements near the Danish island of Bornholm.

In the air, the first air raid sirens woke Oslo residents from their slumber as Swedish planes attacked German military installations in the city and near Kongsvinger and Vinterbro as well as lightly bombing naval installations at Trondheim and Narvik.

The initial push across the border had been largely uncontested and Boehme had adopted the tactics of hit-and-run ambushes to try to hold up the Swedish armour. In the far north, the Norwegians had used local knowledge to outflank German positions close to the border and at 9am had met Finnish troops and assisted them in pushing the last Germans out of Finland. Later that morning, Norwegian, Swedish and Finnish troops would pose together at the tripole of the three countries by a small cairn which marked the exact spot. The symbolic image of Nordic unity would resonate for decades.

While the Finns remained within their borders, the Swedes and Norwegians pushed from Riksgraensen towards Narvik, some 35 miles away.

German fixed defences inflicted heavy losses on some of the leading Swedish echelons, but the Swedes had learned from the Germans the value of artillery and air power supporting armour and began by late afternoon to make headway especially on the southern Oslo front. By nightfall, the Swedes could look back with some satisfaction on the initial day of the offensive into Norway. The heaviest fighting had been, as expected, on the road from the border to Kongsvinger and progress had been impeded by ambushes led by battle groups drawn from Terboven’s personal SS guard.

Further south, the advance had been more consistent with leading Swedish patrols 40 miles or more into Norway by night fall. The nature of the terrain made progress in the north more erratic, but the last German soldier had left Finnish soil by the early afternoon and the Swedes and Norwegians could concentrate on their main objectives of Trondheim, Narvik and Tromso.

For Boehme, the evening brought a chance to re-group and gather his thoughts. While the attack itself had come as little surprise and the lines of the Swedish thrusts were nothing unusual, the paucity of his situation was bring brought home at an alarming rate. The advantages in armour and artillery support which had been enjoyed against the weak Finnish forces didn’t exist against a foe strong in mobile forces and enjoying air superiority. Boehme had saved what remained of his Luftwaffe forces for attacks on Swedish armour, but his forces were quickly engaged by Swedish fighters which proved more than a match for his ME-110 squadrons.

The naval situation was also fraught – the initial naval engagements in the Kattegat, Skaggerak and Bornholm had not proved decisive. The Swedes had effectively sealed the Kattegat to German shipping by the end of the day, but the Germans still controlled the Skagerrak and the Swedes had consciously done nothing to interfere with German naval forces protecting civilian transports from the Baltic coast. This latter policy had drawn some criticism from Moscow whose naval forces had engaged all German shipping. The atmosphere of suspicion was not helped by the accidental engagement of a Swedish and Russian naval vessel off Gotland in the afternoon.
 
In the ATL, as in the OTL, the plan to attack Denmark was shelved due to the rapid allied advance across the North German Plain from the Rhine.

I suspect the plan might have come to fruition had it looked unequivocally as though the Russians were going to reach Jutland before the western allies - in OTL, as in my timeline, it was a close run thing but with the "co-operation" of the Germans, the British, Americans and Canadians were able to get to Lubeck and Wismar a few hours in advance of the Russians and ensure Denmark was liberated by the West.

The Swedes are involved in the final act of the German Surrender in Denmark as will become apparent later - Swedish forces will also liberate Bornholm in this TL.
 
Day 2 - April 28th 1945
Part 9 - Day 2 – April 28th, 1945

Far to the south, Doenitz belatedly announced on Hamburg Radio Germany’s declaration of war on Sweden. This raised fears of a retaliatory air strike on Stockholm and while a couple of German aircraft tried to bomb Gothenburg in the morning, they were driven off by Swedish air defence.

The first formal contacts between British and Swedish liaison officers took place in the afternoon – the Swedes now wanted the British and Americans to move rapidly to secure Denmark from the advancing Russians. This was a political objective supported strongly by Churchill and with the additional support of the Swedes, the proposed timetable for the liberation of Schleswig-Holstein was brought forward 24 hours later to April 30th.

The allied plan had seen the transfer of American airborne troops to Montgomery’s command – they would force a crossing of the Elbe at Lauenberg with the twin objectives of capturing Hamburg and heading for the Baltic coast in the neighbourhood of Wismar if they could get there in advance of the Soviet forces of 3rd Shock Army which were pursuing the beaten Germans out of Mecklenburg.

Facing the British and Canadians was Army Group Blumentritt, whose commander of that name was painfully aware of the infirmity of his forces and his position. Tasked with delaying the British and Canadian advance into northern Germany, he was astute enough to realise the real threat came from the Russians further east.

In Denmark, there were still 250,000 German troops under the command of General Lindemann, but their main focus had been assisting the Volksdeutsche and soldiers evacuated from the Baltic and East Prussia. The ships would arrive in eastern Denmark and would quickly be turned round and sent back to the eastern Baltic. As with Boehme’s forces in Norway, Lindemann’s command looked impressive on paper but had been stripped of key elements which had been drawn south to be lost in the general conflagration.

Like Boehme, Lindemann was under no illusions as to the chances of his command withstanding a substantial Anglo-American assault but he was equally desperate not to see his command fall under Russian control and he correctly assumed that was also the wish of the western allies.

On the ground, the second day of the Intervention saw Swedish forces reach the outskirts of Narvik where they engaged elements of 210th Coastal Division and other Naval and Luftwaffe pressed into infantry service. Most naval assets of any value had been evacuated south but the Swedish forces were by day’s end closing in on the port area.

Further south, the advance on Trondheim was held up by a scratch force of two Infantry divisions, which had taken up defensive positions.

In the far south, the capture of the Svinesund Bridge in the early minutes of the Intervention had proved invaluable for the Swedish advance on the main road to Oslo but the attack had been held up at Sarpsborg by a defence led by SS troops of Terboven’s personal guard and elements of 207th Infantry Division. This small but well-equipped force was dug in on the outskirts of Sarpsborg and it had required a series of aerial attacks to force them to withdraw.

By the end of the day, the villages of Svinndar and Lumdel had fallen and the main assault was closing in on the town of Moss which lay barely 40 miles from Oslo.

Further north, the push towards Kongsvinger on the first day had developed into heavy fighting around and in the town on the second. More of Terboven’s guard and the best of Boehme’s remaining forces had gathered here in well-prepared positions and had withstood two Swedish assaults.

The details of the Battle of Kongsvinger can be found elsewhere and in many ways, it represented the transition of Swedish military power into the modern era. The use of Bofoss guns and tanks finally dislodged the infantry while the SS went down to almost the last man in the defence of the Kongsvinger Fortress but after 18 hours of intensive fighting the town was secure and while the bridges over the Glomma had been blown this hadn’t stopped the Swedish force moving to the south of the town.

By the afternoon of the second day, with Kongsvinger effectively taken, the Swedish offensive moved into open country with only transitory ambushes by immobile German infantry formations.

By nightfall, reconnaissance patrols had reached the outskirts of Klofta, a key road junction 25 miles north east of Oslo but it seemed a new German defensive line was being hastily constructed with tanks and anti-tank positions being created astride the main route to Oslo.

As night fell at the end of the second day, Boehme told Doenitz he could only hold the line for another 48 hours before the Swedes would be in Oslo. Doenitz told him to hold every inch of ground but could offer little or no support with the line to the north and east of Berlin disintegrating and the capital surrounded while news was filtering through of the loss of Munich to the Americans.
 
Day 3 - April 29th 1945
Part 10 - Day 3 – April 29th, 1945

In the far north, resistance at Narvik ceased soon after 10am with the senior surviving German officer capitulating to the Swedes. By the end of the day, the German commander in Bardufoss had also capitulated but the commander in Tromso had refused all offers of surrender.

Further south, the Germans had put up a strong defence of the town of Stjordal, 20 miles from Trondheim at the head of the fjord. It had required a combined artillery and armoured assault to finally compel the Germans to withdraw back along the coast road to Trondheim but frequent ambushes further held up the Swedish assault and by night fall leading echelons were still five miles from Trondheim which was defended by 210th Coastal Division as well as some naval detachments.

Further south, the battle was coming within sound of Oslo. Boehme had already made plans to withdraw his headquarters to Bergen and with the increasing frequency of air raids those plans were accelerated. Boehme went to the main southern front during the afternoon – German troops defending Moss had been by-passed to the east and Boehme had ordered the bridge at Drobak to be blown if the Swedes approached. Crossing that bridge would threaten Drammen and the Oslo position from the south west.

The story of the Drobak Bridge would, of course, pass into legend.

The main Swedish assault was nearing the critical road junction of Vinterbro and it was there Boehme chose to make his next stand, but he has short of ammunition, fuel and had little or no mobile reserve. As they had themselves inflicted on so many in the halcyon years of 1939-41, the Germans in Norway in 1945 discovered how vulnerable immobile or semi-mobile infantry formations were to co-ordinated air, artillery and armour.

The Swedes were learning as they were going and by the third day tactics were being refined with greater co-ordination with local Milorg cells and Norwegian reconnaissance often far ahead of the main Swedish lines.

By the end of the third day, Vinterbro was coming under artillery and small arms fire from the Swedes but Boehme had been pulled away from supervising this to the worsening position north east of Oslo.

A superbly co-ordinated set-piece assault on Klofta had dislodged German forces by late morning with the commander of 213th Infantry Division dead and most of his force captured. With no meaningful forces between the Swedes and Oslo and recognising the threat to the capital, Boehme ordered the bridges over the Nitelva river at Hvam blown as a last way of holding up the Swedes. In a rare stroke of good fortune for the Germans, the two bridges were blown with the Swedes a couple of miles away. By night fall the Swedes were in strength on the east bank of the Nitelva River and considering their options for the following day.

Boehme’s good luck didn’t survive the night – in a daring coup de main, which was made into an award-winning film after the war, a group of Milorg fighters seized the Drobak Bridge from the SS and German Army forces backed by a daring Swedish naval assault. The Swedes quickly threw a small force over the bridge and by dawn on the fourth day Boehme realised his position to the south and west of Oslo had been compromised,

For the Swedes, the seizing of Drobak bridge was almost too good to be true – Milorg had said the bridge could be captured and, while not as historically significant as the capture of Remagen by the Americans a few weeks earlier and certainly lacking some of the cinematic and romantic aspects added after the war, the capture of a key crossing would be a hammer blow to Boehme’s limited military objectives.

The fall of Narvik had effectively ended the war in Troms and Nordeland – the remaining significant German presence in Tromso was isolated with the fall of Bardufoss. Trondheim remained problematic – resistance had been stiffer than expected.
 
Day 4 - 30th April 1945
Part 11 - Day 4 – April 30th, 1945

Boehme woke early on what would prove a cataclysmic day for his command. He had moved forces at dawn to try to mitigate the loss of Drobak Bridge, but early reports suggested the Swedes had faced no opposition as they drove towards Drammen and the possibility of cutting the main road from Oslo to the west and south west.

He had also to deal with angry calls from both Terboven and Quisling, both of whom had vowed to stay to defend Oslo. Boehme was less interested in dying and took a car to the north and west of Oslo – the airport was already the scene of fierce fighting between the Swedes and Luftwaffe detachments but would fall by mid-morning.

Boehme went to a small military airfield and flew to Bergen where he would set up his new command.

Recognising the importance of the capture of Drobak, the Swedes rapidly re-positioned their forces leaving a screening presence at Vinterbro to engage the Germans while moving from their new bridgehead north and west towards Drammen. Again, fortune was with them as Milorg was able to secure the bridges over the Drammenfjord before the Germans could blow them and by the end of the day the Swedes had cut the main road out of Oslo to the south and west and secured much of Drammen.

This disaster for Boehme was compounded by the successful river crossing of the Nitelva by Swedish marine assault troops in the afternoon. This was not without significant losses and in terms of the campaign the bloodiest episode for the Swedes. The Nitelva River Memorial stands at the point the first Swedish troops struggled on to the west bank under heavy but weakening German fire.

The news from the south and west of Oslo had filtered through the front line and some German units had disengaged without orders in order to withdraw to the relative safety of the north and west of Oslo.

Further north, the Swedes and Norwegians had battled their way into Trondheim but faced stiff resistance from 210th Coastal Division with naval forces providing offshore artillery support. By nightfall, German resistance was confined to the port area where the commander of the garrison had refused two offers of surrender.

Two more shattering events later in the day further undermined Boehme’s already precarious position – news came in the afternoon of the successful crossing of the Elbe at Lauenberg with American and British forces already into Schleswig-Holstein and Army Group Blumentritt on the cusp of collapse. This threatened Denmark which Boehme thought would be the next Swedish target.

At 9pm came the news from Hamburg Radio, in a speech from Grand Admiral Doenitz, that Hitler was dead and he, Doenitz, was now leader of the disintegrating Reich. For many ordinary German soldiers, the death of Hitler and the imminent fall of Berlin were clear signals the war was ending – the death of Hitler relieved many ordinary soldiers of the oath they had been compelled to take and this would have a profound effect in the coming days.

Terboven had gone on Norwegian radio an hour after Doenitz’s speech pledging his support to the new Fuehrer and urging all Germans and Norwegian supporters to continue the fight – a view echoed in a later broadcast by Quisling. Both Terboven and Quisling were aware of the military situation and in the early hours of May 1st, Quisling and his Cabinet secretly left Oslo for Kristiansand leaving Terboven and a handful of SS troops and Police at Skaugum.
 
Day 5 - May 1st 1945
Part 12 - Day 5 – May 1st, 1945

Morning brought a change in the weather with much colder conditions moving south through the battle lines even snow reported in the north and centre of Norway.

The day brought a gradual collapse of the German front south west of Oslo. One Swedish patrol found the Norwegian Milorg had seized the ferry at Skelvik and quickly transported a force to seize the town on the other side of the fjord.

The main force around Drammen split with a smaller force moving back east towards the western outskirts of Oslo while a larger force started west and south west. Initial resistance of small German battle groups weakened as the day went on – German army forces were often surrendering without fighting.

Swedish local commanders pressed on at high speed, giving the Germans little time to re-group and encircling larger immobile formations. By nightfall, the line had reached Vradal and Eidanger, some 70 miles south west of Drammen.

Closer to Oslo, fighting was more intense – Swedish and Norwegian forces had fought their way into the city from north east and south west and by evening hand to hand fighting was taking place in the centre of the city.

The Swedes faced a battle at Skaugum, the residence of the Norwegian Crown Prince, which had been taken over by Terboven as his official residence in 1940.

Doenitz had unceremoniously sacked Terboven in the early hours and Boehme had long since withdrawn any regular troops leaving Terboven and SS Police commander Friedrich Redless with only a handful of SS and Norwegian police units to defend the estate.

Requests for a surrender were ignored and, in the afternoon, Swedish forces made ready to attack the Skaugum complex but at 4pm there was a massive explosion from the area of the bunker. A brief skirmish with confused SS and Police troops on the perimeter of Skaugum ended with the SS being killed to the last man and the Police surrendering at 6pm.

Reaching the house, the Swedes found extensive damage – the Germans had detonated some 50kg of dynamite in the bunker area beneath the manor. Eventually, the bodies of Terboven and Redless would be found in the rubble. With their commanders dead, any remnant SS units melted away and the threat of fanatical resistance ended.

By nightfall, the Swedes were in full control of Oslo – the garrison at Akershus capitulated at 9pm.

Further north, Trondheim had fallen by lunchtime and all resistance north of Narvik had ended by night fall. For many years, no one knew what had happened, but it seemed there was a revolt among German troops in Tromso during which the commander was killed. His deputy contacted Swedish command and offered the surrender of the port and what remained of 210th Coastal Division in the port.

Boehme heard of the fall of Lubeck and Wismar to the British and Canadians and the meeting between British and Russian forces to the east of Wismar. This effectively meant Denmark was cut off from Germany. Blumentritt, his command shattered, had withdrawn to Flensburg while the British were closing in on Kiel.

Doenitz now had the single priority of trying to save as much as possible from the Baltic states, Courland and Hela before the end. Through Swiss sources, he opened a dialogue with the Swedes on May 1st hoping to persuade them to allow further civilian evacuations through the Baltic and Kattegat. Sweden made it clear the only conversation to be had with the allies was on unconditional surrender and that evening Doenitz instructed von Friedeburg, his successor as commander of German naval forces, and General Eberhard Kinzel to seek terms from Montgomery.

A Swedish liaison officer had arrived at Montgomery’s field headquarters on Luneburg Heath that morning and was among those who heard Montgomery’s famous quip when notified about the arrival of the German delegation “who are these people and what do they want?”.

From the relative safety of Bergen, Boehme could see by day’s end the impending destruction of his command. With the death of Terboven and the fall of Oslo, he was now in sole command but the Swedes were now loose in south western Norway with virtually nothing left beyond small battle groups to constitute any kind of defence. His soldiers, many of whom had been less than enthusiastic defenders of German honour, as Boehme saw it, were giving up en masse to either Milorg or the Swedes.

Boehme contacted Lindemann that evening – the latter was now convinced the Swedes were going to cross into Denmark within 48 hours – the SS would resist but he believed the Wehrmacht would not and there had already been isolated clashes between SS and Wehrmacht units in Jutland and near Copenhagen. Lindemann confirmed Blumentritt had stated his command was now dissolved with the British at Neumunster, just 70 miles from the Danish border and approaching Kiel.

For the allies, the sense of an endgame developing had grown during the day. The collapse of German resistance in Mecklenburg and Holstein had allowed British and Canadian forces to reach the Baltic coast and block the advance of the Russian front. The allied air forces were attacking shipping fleeing up both coasts of Schleswig towards Denmark but had not ventured too far east where Swedish air attacks on German military vessels (but not civilian transports) were continuing.

Early hints of a possible negotiation for an armistice became reality at 7pm on May 1st with news a German delegation wished to cross the lines to speak to Montgomery. The delegation arrived but it was agreed talks would start in the morning and accommodations were provided for the Germans overnight.

Although he had not considered the possibility, Montgomery was now actively pursuing, with Swedish support, involving Norway in any surrender of German forces in north west Europe but this needed careful co-ordination with the Russians who, although not militarily active in Norway beyond Finnmark, had engaged with Swedish naval vessels in the Baltic.
 
so, will this mean an iron curtain further east?
This is one of those questions which, from an AH perspective, you'd like to come up with a huge answer.

Unfortunately, short answer is no.

I've written the rest of the TL but kept the post war deliberately vague. Will Sweden join NATO in 1949? I suspect not but co-operation with the Atlantic Alliance may being somewhat earlier than in OTL.
 
Great story. One nitpick. The Old Swinesundbrige did not open until 1946 so i guess it would not be completed yet in the closing stages of the war.

Wonder what this will do to the Swedish self esteem after ww2.
 
Great story. One nitpick. The Old Swinesundbrige did not open until 1946 so i guess it would not be completed yet in the closing stages of the war.

Wonder what this will do to the Swedish self esteem after ww2.
Yes, this was going to be a problem, wasn't it?

However, my solution goes something like this - in the spring of 1945, the Swedish High Command carries out a survey of the bridge and orders some urgent but discrete work to enable the incomplete structure to take a volume of transport.

The Germans are the other side of the river and while they haven't objected to the Swedish works on the bridge, they have been watching carefully. As the build up occurs during mid April, the Germans finally realise the bridge may not be as "unfinished" as it appears.

In the early hours of April 27th, a party of Swedish troops, aided by Milorg resistance, cross the Svinesund and seize the bridge from the Germans who can only watch helplessly as the "unfinished" bridge seems perfectly able to take the weight of vehicles.

The Germans had put stronger forces further east and south at Kornsjo thinking the Swedes would cross there and move north west but the Swedes gambled successfully on being able to cross the granite bridge even though it wasn't finished.

The Germans were outflanked and ultimately surrounded and forced to surrender by Swedish forces.
 
Day 6 - May 2nd 1945
Part 13 - Day 6 – May 2nd, 1945

Soon after dawn, Blumentritt, in his last act as Army Group commander, declared Hamburg an open city and the British marched in capturing Hamburg Radio, one of the last transmitters of any power left to the Germans.

With the fall of Hamburg and Kiel later the same day, the capture of Bremerhaven effectively ended the campaign on the north German coast. British forces moved north towards Flensburg but were hampered by roads clogged with refugees and retreating German troops.

The Swedish command also recognised the end was near and were anxious not to inflict further casualties or damage on themselves or on the Norwegian civilian population. In truth, by May 2nd, the Germans were scarcely putting up a fight in much of southern and western Norway.

By midday, leading echelons had reached Kristiansand and were fanning out across the hinterland of southern Norway by-passing groups of German infantry eager to capitulate.

Boehme’s prediction of the dissolution of his command were coming to pass before his eyes and by early afternoon he signalled his willingness to capitulate.

Doenitz was aware of the infirmity of the situation and instructed von Friedeburg to try to buy time to enable as much civilian traffic as possible to get across the Baltic to the relative safety of the Danish coast.

At Luneburg Heath, Montgomery and the British were becoming increasingly impatient with the German negotiators. In the early afternoon, they had produced maps showing the truth of the German military position. Shipping trying to move up both coasts of Schleswig-Holstein was being attacked by British aircraft while the Swedish Air Force was now roaming at will over Denmark. The Swedes also confirmed the outbreak of fighting between Danish Resistance forces, elements of the Wehrmacht and the SS around Copenhagen, Aarhus and Odense. Lindemann was anxious to surrender his command intact but the SS, primarily Danish members, saw little future in the post-war world.

Elsewhere, resistance in Holland was ending as the Canadians closed on the Grebbe defence live protecting the remaining German troops in Amsterdam – Holland had been cut off from Germany days earlier when Canadian troops had reached the North Sea coast.

At 6pm, Montgomery told the German delegation the front to the west would be closed and no further soldiers or civilians would be allowed to pass through unless a surrender was signed.

In Norway, Swedish troops were now advancing at will against almost non-existent German resistance and the Norwegian Resistance were effectively in control of both Bergen and Stavanger and most remaining Norwegian towns.
 
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