In 1939, the Kingdom of Sweden, a parliamentary democracy, declared it would stay neutral in case of a war between the European powers. Germany’s conquest of Denmark and Norway in 1940, however, pulled Sweden into the Third Reich’s military sphere of influence. In this position, Sweden was no longer able to pursue its policy of “active neutrality”.
Before 1939, Sweden had a total population of about 6,326,000 people. Approximately 7,000 of them were Jews. 900 more arrived as refugees from occupied Norway, when the Norwegian collaborationist government prepared for the deportation of the country’s Jews in 1942. Access to Sweden was initially restricted, but faced with growing evidence of deportations and mass murder of the European Jews, the Swedish Foreign Ministry softened its stance on immigration. As a result, all Jews who fled to Sweden were granted asylum. In October 1943, after the Germans prepared to arrest of the Jews of Denmark, nearly all of Denmark's 8,000 Jews were brought to safety in Sweden. In early 1945, Sweden was able to secure the release of some Scandinavian and other concentration camp inmates. Overall, between 1933 and 1945, approximately 25,000 Jews immigrated to Sweden, mostly from Germany, Denmark or Norway.
The National Archives of Sweden hold all public records of the agencies of the central government. This institution supervises a network of regional archives as well as the Military Archives. In 1991, special archive legislation was passed to regulate the working of the National Archives. In addition to the state archives, there are collections in private archives and museums.
EHRI has identified the Swedish National Archives, the regional archives in Lund, the regional archives in Vadstena, the Malmö City archives, and the Norrköping Municipal archives as the most important holders of Holocaust-relevant collections. The Jewish community archives can also be found in the National Archives. Furthermore, the Military Archives of Sweden may hold sources pertaining to the Holocaust. Outside of Sweden, EHRI has detected collections pertaining to Sweden and the Holocaust at the National Archives of Finland, at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Yad Vashem and Beit Terezin. EHRI has also discovered sources relevant to Sweden at the Hungarian National Archives and at the National Archives of Latvia.