At the beginning of WWII Germany invaded and occupied Denmark and Norway, but left neutral Sweden alone. Less than a year later citizens from all three of those Scandinavian nations were volunteering to join the Waffen-SS. By the end of the war in 1945 the number of Scandinavians who had fought in the Waffen-SS had reached the thousands. Casualties were high, but there were survivors and they returned home, often to face retribution and condemnation.
The first book to cover all the Scandinavians who served in Hitler's feared Waffen-SS right until the end in Berlin Based in part on interviews with surviving veterans, this history details the battles the Danish, Norwegian, Swedish, and Finnish men of the Waffen-SS fought, and what inspired them to join. The Nazis' dream of a world dominated by legions of Aryan "supermen," forged in battle and absolutely loyal to Adolf Hitler, was epitomized by the Waffen-SS. Created as a supreme military elite, it grew to become an immense force totaling almost one million men by the end of the war. An astonishing fact about the SS is that thousands of its members were not German. Men stepped forward from almost every nation in Europe, for many complex reasons that included hatred of Bolshevism and nationalist sentiment or even straightforward anti-Semitism. Thousands of Scandinanians were recruited from 1940 onwards and fought with distinction on the Russian Front. They served at first in national legions but were then brought together in the elite Wiking Panzer Division and the Nordland Panzer-grenadier Division.
In episode 55, I discussed the Flemish Waffen SS, with Jonathan Trigg. Since then he’s been busy tracking down the few surviving veterans of the SS who were from Scandinavia, for his new book Voices of the Scandinavian Waffen SS: The Final Testament of Hitler’s Vikings.
Being a fellow Yorkshireman, with a new book, on a very interesting topic, I thought it rude not to ask him back!