Monday, August 8, 2011

Twilight of the Gods - A Swedish Volunteer in the 11th SS Panzergrenadier Division "Nordland" of the Eastern Front

At the end of World War II, the Nuremberg war tribunal sentenced the Waffen SS, possibly the finest fighting force the world has seen since Leonidas and his Spartans at Thermopylae, the bravest of the brave, collectively as war criminals. As an ex-Waffen SS volunteer, well aware of the strong discipline and high morale of these exceptional warriors, originally all volunteers, I decided to write down the experiences of some Swedish SS comrades in the fight against the Red Army. My first interviewee was Erik (Jerka) Wallin from Stockholm. In late 1945 he had just been released from a Swedish prison where he had served a few months for the theft of his Swedish army uniform. Before crossing the border to join the Waffen SS he had wrapped it in a neat parcel, which somehow had gone astray. During the war it was no crime in Sweden to join the German or Finnish forces against the Soviet Union. After the war, however, the Swedish authorities felt embarrassed about their past neutrality and became anxious to establish good terms with Sweden's large neighbour in the east. So Jerka had to go to jail as an expression of Sweden's new-found friendliness with the Soviet Union.