While we were there, we visited a castle after our visit at the papermill. As castles go in Europe, it isn't very old, being built in mid 1600's to defend Norway from the Swedes basically.
Wikipedia doesn't mention WWII when the castle was held by the Germans.
The co-workers were from China, South Africa and Sweden with the Swede a US resident who has been in the States for 20 years or so now. We had a discussion as to the situation during WWII when Norway was taken control of by the Nazi's and how/why Sweden remained neutral during the war.
"On the pretext that Norway needed protection from British and French interference, Germany invaded Norway for several reasons: strategically, to secure ice-free harbours from which naval forces could seek to control the North Atlantic; to secure the availability of iron ore from mines in Sweden, going through Narvik; to pre-empt a British and French invasion with the same purpose; and to reinforce the propaganda of a "Germanic empire"
My Swede co-worker stated that there were iron ore mines in upper Sweden that the Germans needed to "run the war". The Germans were buying the ore from Sweden and as part of the agreement Sweden would not be attacked by Germany.
The South African and I thought that was interesting in that the Germans were normally just taking everything they wanted during that time period. But, we all speculated, maybe Germany didn't feel the need to be doing battle with everyone they came in contact with in the region to save troops for other fronts. At the time, they were already in Finland, as before the war officially broke out, the Finns had asked for help from the Germans to keep the invading Russians out. When the war officially broke out, the Finns were then by default part of the Axis. With Norway in their control, they had Sweden pretty much surrounded.
It was also mentioned in the discussion that Sweden had a better military than both Norway and Finland, so maybe the Germans just thought better of it....but, it would seem that Sweden was in a pretty precarious position in that if things had gone a little differently, it would only be a matter of time before Sweden would be controlled by Germany.
So, would it have been wiser, not knowing at the time that the Axis would eventually be beaten, to wait and hope for the best (and let other countries do battle with the Germans and watch from the sidelines, let alone provide iron ore for the German war effort) or to join up with the other countries early to defeat Hilter and the Axis as quick as possible before more lives were lost in the ensuing years and run the risk of the Germans picking off countries one-by-one on their own time table?
Wiki has an interesting page on this topic and our speculations weren't too far off:
Sweden was able to remain neutral throughout the war. According to Erik Boheman, the Swedish secretary of state during the war, the main reasons were luck and the development of the war, in combination with the Swedish people's spirit to resist an invasion, and perhaps also some diplomatic skillfulness. But according to German contemporary sources, Hitler considered Swedish neutrality as beneficial to Germany, didn't want to spare troops necessary for occupation and was afraid that Norwegian partisans and Allied special forces will cross into Sweden and attack mines and railroads. Indeed, Sweden supplied 10 million tons of iron ore per year to Germany from 1940–1943, as much as in the pre-war year 1938, in addition to vast numbers of manufactured ball bearings. In compensation Germany exported coal, fertilizer, and iron at affordable prices. The Swedish trade with Germany was terminated in the autumn 1944, without any Swedish deficit."
Another interesting page: Why did Sweden remain neutral....
My question is, if Sweden was supplying supplies to Germany during the war, was Sweden really neutral or had they in fact picked a side as the result of their actions?
This question reminds me of this quote, though:
"THEY CAME FIRST for the Communists, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist. THEN THEY CAME for the trade unionists, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist. THEN THEY CAME for the Jews, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew. THEN THEY CAME for me and by that time no one was left to speak up."
Norway is a beautiful country and quite rich due to their oil deposits. "Today, Norway ranks as the third wealthiest country in the world in monetary value, with the largest capital reserve per capita of any nation." taken from Wikipedia
The South African in our party stated that he had read that Norway's working population (the country has a total population of 4.8 million people) could all stop working and with the money the government has in reserve, their earnings could be covered for the next 300 years. Interesting, if it's accurate.
The Norwegians are watching the Gulf situation closely as they contemplate deep sea drilling.
"Today Norway’s Oil and Energy Minister Terje Riis-Johansen said that new deep-water drilling areas licenses have been halted. He said Norway would at this time wait until a U.S. investigation on the cause of the rigs explosion until issuing new deep-sea licenses. This is significant given that Norway pioneered offshore oil drilling. We stopped for lunch, which was very good, at a truck stop and 5 of us ate for $150 (USD). It's also a very expensive country to live in! The airport is very nice and they were sweeping the parking lots, maybe a sign of their wealth and standard of living. In the 4 hr. drive to Halden and back didn't notice one old car
Bikes parked at the papemill....nice travel trunks.
View of the castle from the town of Halden.
View from the Castle. Ocean going vessles can come into Halden.
Per-Olaf, Swede now living in the States.Derek Liang, from China.
Herman, from South Africa.
These were not bricks but rocks....wondered how they could get just the right sizes in all the right spots to make this "road" or path look like a work of art?
Rent a bike at the Holiday Inn in Amsterdam on my return trip home.