Holocaust-Era Assets

RG 84: Sweden

State Department and Foreign Affairs Records

Records of the Foreign Service Posts of the Department of State (RG 84)


Sweden declared its neutrality in September 1939. However, after the German occupation of Norway and Denmark in April 1940, Sweden was less well placed to resist German pressure to relax its neutral stance.  In June 1940 Sweden signed a transit agreement with Germany allowing goods and troops to transit Sweden on their way from Norway to Finland.  German soldiers on rotation to and from the war front made about 250,000 trips across Swedish territory, as late as August 1943.  Moreover, the Swedish Navy escorted German convoys in the Baltic.

The Germans also increased their economic and financial ties to Sweden.  When the war begun Germans had over 130 corporations, or groups of corporations in Sweden that were outright branches and subsidiaries of German firms. There were also firms that were believed to be financed by German corporations of German nationals.  These included AEG, Krupp, the Siemens Group, I.G. Farben, and Telefunken Gesellschaft.  In addition, there were over 170 Swedish corporations, or group of corporations, to varying degrees had an identity of interest with German corporations, such as patent and trademark agreements, "dummy" and "cloaking" activities, cartel agreements, contractual relationships, and direct representation of German firms, e.g., through Swedish sales agencies.

German influence was significant in Swedish industry, such as iron-ore and mining, coal import and distribution, machine and machine tool manufacture, forestry, chemical raw materials manufacture, shipping and shipbuilding, and steel.  The Germans also had real estate investments in Sweden.

Germany's war effort depended significantly upon its imports of raw materials and goods from the neutral nations.  Sweden's exports of ball-bearings to Germany were vitally important, but were even overshadowed during the early years of the war when Sweden supplied Germany with 40 percent of its iron-ore before imports of iron ore from other European countries reduced this dependency.

Despite the close economic ties to Germany and the transit agreement with Germany, Sweden provided a refugee for those escaping Germany, as well as Soviet, oppression.  Most of the Jews from Denmark were smuggled across the Sound into Sweden.

Once the tide of battle changed, Sweden was relatively more responsive to Allied pressure to curtail its trade with the Germans.  An Allied-Sweden agreement of September 1943 eventually brought about a progressive, substantial curtailment of Swedish commerce with Germany.  Under the agreement, the United States and Great Britain agreed to allow an increase in exports to Sweden, including oil and rubber, in exchange for which Sweden agreed to cancel the transit of German military material and troops across Sweden, further reduce iron ore exports, end Swedish naval escorting of German ships in the Baltic, and reduce ball-bearing exports.

During the last half of 1943 and the early months of 1944, the United States sought to cripple Germany's ability to continue the war by carrying out a concentrated and costly bombing campaign against ball-bearing production in Germany combined with trade negotiations, including preclusive purchasing arrangements, intended to cut off Swedish ball-bearings to Germany.  The United States bombing campaign reduced German ball-bearing production, but German industrial countermeasures and improvisations warded off any serious consequences.  Moreover, the September 1943 agreement, while reducing exports of ball-bearings, neglected to impose restrictions on exports of high-quality steel used to manufacture ball-bearings.  Thus, by allowing Sweden to provide Germany with ball-bearing steel, it offset the drop in the Swedish export of finished ball-bearings.

During the remainder of the war Sweden continued to pursue a policy which was generally accommodating to the Allies and unhelpful towards Germany.  And the unremitting Allied diplomatic pressure and the crumbling of the Nazi war effort moved Sweden gradually to reduce and ultimately to end its trade with Germany.  All Swedish trade with Germany halted completely in November 1944.

The American Government in late 1944 and early 1945, as part of the Safehaven Program, attempted to have Swedes adhere to the Bretton Woods Resolution VI and to refrain from dealings with Germany.   In November 1944, Sweden adopted new exchange regulations which had the effect of blocking capital transfers.  The Swedish Government's Foreign Capital Control Office, which had adopted tightened exchange control regulations in November 1944, made great progress in identifying German properties and eliminating German influences from Sweden's economy.  But Sweden offered no guarantee that the findings of its census of German external assets would be made available to the Allies.  And the Swedish Government did not agree to accept Bretton Woods Resolution VI, and rejected all but two of the specific Safehaven requests made by the Allies.

By April 1945, Swedish officials had assured British and American diplomats that in response to Allied wartime statements on gold and assets, Sweden would freeze German assets and restore looted property.  At that time the Allied estimates of German external assets amounted to roughly $90 million and looted gold sold to Sweden by Germany ranged between $18.5 million and $22.7 million.

By early 1946 the Swedish Parliament had adopted legislation necessary to control German property in Sweden and was working cooperatively with Allied representatives to quantify German assets and wartime gold shipments.  The Swedish government consistently rejected, however, the Allied assertion of Allied Control Council Law No. 5, vesting control in the Council over German external assets.

The difference on the application of international law prolonged negotiations between Allied and Swedish representatives, that began in Washington D.C. in late March 1946.  But in early July 1946, they concluded an agreement that immediately provided $12.5 million in liquidated German assets to the Intergovernmental Committee on Refugees to rehabilitate and resettle the non- repatriable victims of Nazism, agreed to provide $18 million as reparations to the IARA, and assigned the remaining $36 million in liquidated German assets for the assistance of the British and United States occupation forces in Germany to forestall disease and unrest, and to finance purchases essential for the German economy.  Agreement was also reached on the restitution by Sweden of $8 in gold tentatively identified as having been looted by Germany from the Belgium. (Note 91)

Implementation of the July 1946 Accord stretched over the next eight years.  Although the Swedes were prompt in providing more than $12 million to the Intergovernmental Committee for Refugees for the succor of the non-repatriable victims of Nazi persecution and $36 million was used in Sweden and elsewhere for essential commodities for occupied Germany, Swedish negotiators haggled with the Allies and the Inter-Allied Reparation Agency until 1955 over how to distribute the remaining $18 million for reparation.  The promised payment of $8 million in Belgian gold to the Tripartite Gold Commission was delayed by Sweden until December 1949.

Allied-Swedish negotiations regarding $9.7 million in Dutch gold, which began after the July 1946 Accord, dragged on until 1955, with the Swedish negotiators arguing that the gold had been acquired before the January 1943 London Declaration on looted gold.  In April 1955, after Swedish and Dutch officials met in Washington, D.C. and the Dutch claim was proved conclusive, Sweden transferred about $6.8 million in gold to the Tripartite Gold Commission. (Note 92)

Records of the U.S. Embassy, Stockholm Sweden

     General Records 1936-1952 (Entry 3195)

          Boxes 1-138
          Box# File #         File Title or Subject
          41   711.1          Neutrality
               711.2          Neutral Commerce
               800       Political Reports
          43   848       Relief, Refugees
               850       Commercial Activities location: 350/68/9/07
          44   851       Financial Conditions, Blocked Assets, etc.
               851.51    Exchange
               851.6          Banks, Banking
               858.8          Blocked Funds
               854       Patents, Trademarks, Copyrights

          Box# File #         File Title or Subject
          51   600       Trade Statistics
               631       Trade Relations-Sweden-Denmark
               631       Trade Relations-Sweden-Finland
               631       Trade Relations-Sweden-Germany
               631       Trade Relations-Sweden-Great Britain
               631       Trade Relations-Netherlands, Belgium
               631       Trade Relations-United States location: 350/68/10/01
          53   710       Political Relations-American-Finnish Relations
               710       Political Relations-American-Danish Relations
               710       Political Relations-British-Finnish Relations
               710       Political Relations-Finnish-German Relations
               710       Political Relations-German-Portuguese Relations
               710       Political Relations-Swedish-British Relations
               710       Political Relations-Swedish-Finnish Relations
               710       Political Relations-Swedish-German Relations
               711       European War
               711       Swedish Economic Life-Memo of Conversation among
                              Adolf A. Bearle, Jr., and W. Bostrom, Swedish
                              Minister and Marcus Wallenberg, Jr., Vice President
                              of the Stockholm Enskilda Bank, Dec. 12, 1940
               711       Interview of Marcus Wallenberg, Jr., in Swedish press, on
                              Feb. 6, 1941; reported Feb. 14, 1941
          54   711.1          Neutrality, Neutrals
               711.2          Neutral Commerce
               711.2          Axis Ships, Seizure of, By the United States
               711.2          Swedish-British Trade
               711.2          Swedish-Finnish Trade
               711.2          Swedish-German Trade
               711.2          Swedish-Norwegian Trade
               711.2          Swedish-Soviet Trade
               800       Political Reports
          56   848       Relief, Refugees
               850       Economic Matters
          57   850.6          Insurance
               851       Financial Conditions location: 350/68/10/02
          58   851.6          Banks, Banking
               858.8          Blocked Assets
          Box# File #         File Title or Subject
          69   350       Property Rights
               600       Trade Statistics
          70   631       Trade Agreements-Bohemia-Moravia
               631       Trade Agreements-Brazil
               631       Trade Agreements-Danish
               631       Trade Agreements-Finnish
               631       Trade Agreements-Free World Trade
               631       Trade Agreements-German
               631       Trade Agreements-Hungarian
               631       Trade Agreements-Italian
               631       Trade Agreements-Norway
               631       Trade Agreements-Slovakian
               631       Trade Agreements-Turkey location: 350/68/10/04
          71   710       Political Relations
          71-76     711       European War
          77   711.1          Neutrality, Neutrals
               711.2          Neutral Commerce
               711.3          Trading With Enemy
               800       Political Reports-General
               800       Political Reports-Baltic States
               800       Political Reports-Croatia
               800       Political Reports-Denmark location: 350/68/10/05
          78   800       Political Reports-Norway
          79   800       Political Reports-Sweden
               800       Political Reports-Yugoslavia location: 350/68/10/05
          81   820       Military Affairs
               820.02    Axis Activities
          82   848       Relief, Refugees
          83   850       Economic Matters
          84   851       Financial Conditions
               851.5          Gold Shipments
               851.6          Banks, Banking
               851.7          Exchanges location: 350/68/10/06
          85   851.8          Blocked Funds
               854       Patents, Trademarks, Copyrights

          Box# File #         File Title or Subject
          96   631       Trade Relations-Belgian
               631       Trade Relations-Danish
               631       Trade Relations-Finnish
               631       Trade Relations-French
               631       Trade Relations-German
               631       Trade Relations-Holland
               631       Trade Relations-Hungarian
               631       Trade Relations-Italian
               631       Trade Relations-Norwegian
               631       Trade Relations-Portuguese
               631       Trade Relations-Rumanian
               631       Trade Relations-Slovakian
               631       Trade Relations-Soviet
               631       Trade Relations-Spanish
               631       Trade Relations-Swiss
               631       Trade Relations-Turkish
               631       Trade Relations-United States
               710       Political Relations-Denmark
               710       Political Relations-Finland location: 350/68/10/07
          97-101 711          European War  
          102  711.1          Neutrality, Neutrals
               711.2          Neutral Commerce
               711.3          Trading With Enemy
               711.6          War Crimes
          103-106 800         Political Reports-General
               800       Political Reports-Austria
               800       Political Reports-Baltic States
               800       Political Reports-Denmark
               800       Political Reports-Estonia
               800       Political Reports-Finland
               800       Political Reports-Germany
               800       Political Reports-Holland
               800       Political Reports-Hungary
               800       Political Reports-Iceland
               800       Political Reports-Latvia
               800       Political Reports-Lithuania
               800       Political Reports-Norway
               800       Political Reports-Poland
               800       Political Reports-Rumania
               800       Political Reports-Sweden location: 350/68/11/01
          108  820.02    Axis Activities
          110  848       Relief, Refugees
               850       Economic Matters-Austria
               850       Economic Matters-Baltic States
               850       Economic Matters-Denmark
               850       Economic Matters-Estonia
               850       Economic Matters-Germany
               850       Economic Matters-Lithuania
               850       Economic Matters-Norway location: 350/68/11/02
          111  850       Economic Matters-Norway
               850       Economic Matters-Sweden
               850       Economic Matters-Ukraine
               850.31    Census of American-Owned Property  loc: 350/68/11/02
          112  850.6          Insurance
               851       Financial Conditions
               851.5          Exchange
               851.6          Banks, Banking
               851.8          Blocked Funds
          113  863.4          Gold Production of Sweden
               863.5          Base Metals
          117  871       Censorship location: 350/68/11/03
          Box# File #         File Title or Subject
          119  711.1          Neutrals
               800       Political Reports
          Box# File #         File Title or Subject
          120  711       Germany
               800       Political Reports
          Box# File #         File Title or Subject
          122  711.3          Proclaimed List
               800       Political Reports
          123  848       Relief
               851       Washington Accord Implementation
          Box# File #         File Title or Subject
          125  800       Political Reports location: 350/68/11/04
          127  711       War Damage Compensation
          Box# File #         File Title or Subject
          128  800       Political Reports location: 350/68/11/05
          Box# File #         File Title or Subject
          131  321.3          Safehaven
               321.3          Economic Warfare, Trading With Enemy, Blacklist, Foreign
                              Funds, Frozen Credits
          Box# File #         File Title or Subject
          133  321.1          Neutrality
          134  321.3          Economic Warfare
     Classified General File (Confidential File) 1944-1952 (Entry 3197)

          Boxes 1-13
          Box# File #    File Title or Subject
          1    711.1     Swedish Neutrality
               800  Political Reports
               851  Financial Conditions
               863.5     Base Metals
               866.12 SKF
               866.12 Ball Bearings
          Box# File #    File Title or Subject
          2    711.3     Safehaven
               711  Swedish Desire to Investigate Documents Concerning Sweden in
               711  List of Swedish Nationals Decorated by the German Government
               800  Contains information on Sweden's Wartime Policies
               824.2     The Business Connections of Aktiebolaget Borfus with Argentina
               851  Safehaven-German Property
               851  Control of Italian Foreign Exchange Assets in Neutral Countries
          Box# File #    File Title or Subject
          3    711.3     Proclaimed List
               800  Political Reports
          Box# File #    File Title or Subject
          4    851  Safehaven (2 folders)
               851  Safehaven-Looted Gold
               851  Safehaven-Bosch, et al
               851  Safehaven-German Assets
          Box# File #    File Title or Subject
          5    800  Political Reports
               851  German Inter Allied Committee (1947-1948)
               851  Miscellaneous, including frozen assets and aide to the Nazis
               851  Safehaven
               851  Safehaven-Looted Gold
               851  Safehaven-German Assets
          Box# File #    File Title or Subject
          6    800  Political Reports
          7    851  I.G. Farben
               851  Gold
               851  German State Property
               851  Safehaven-Patents and Trademarks
               851  Miscellaneous
               851  Safehaven
               851  Safehaven-German Assets
               851  Bosch
          Box# File #    File Title or Subject
          8    321.3     Safehaven
               321.3     Looted Gold
               350  Refugees
          Box# File #    File Title or Subject
          9    321.3     Proclaimed Lists
               321.3     German Assets

     Top Secret General Records 1943-1952 (Entry 3198)

          Boxes 1-4
          Box# Subject Matter
          1    Telegrams Sent and Received Relating to Finland, 1943-1945
          2-4  Pertain primarily to Atomic Energy Matters and NATO

     Classified General Records 1953-1963 (Entry 3201A)
          Box# File #    File Title
          1    321.3     German Assets 1955 
          2    321.3     German Assets 1954
               321.3     German Assets 1953
               321.3     Japanese Assets     location: 350/68/12/05
          6    321.3     German Assets 1956-1958