Sunday, June 19, 2011

Kviberg Cemetery: Neutrality is not Disinterest; or Isolation

"Neutral" Nations in War
The Traces in Kviberg Cemetery, Gothenberg (Goteborg) 

Find here the name, rank, branch of service, ship if a sailor, the unknowns, soldier of the great war, sailor, pilot; designations for so many whose bodies washed ashore, crashed.  Most from the First World War appear to be sailors. after the naval Battle of Jutland off Denmark in 1916.  There was also the wreck of the HM Drifter Catspaw, en route from  Talinn, Estonia, to Copenhagen, and lost off Oland Island 1919. It was a minesweeper and carried out coastal patrols.  There were no survivors. See

From the Second World War, most appear to be pilots who crashed before or after bombing raids in Germany or German territories.  Graves had been scattered, buried in isolation where they fell or were found, until 1961 when arrangements were made for relocation here. In 1976, a further body was found in Lappland, a pilot from WWII, and brought here. See

German soldiers are also buried here, with level markers and a central stone.

Sweden's government adopted formal neutrality during World War I and World War II, but neutrality is seldom neutral. Even Alfred Nobel, pacifist, creator of the great Nobel Peace Prize, invented the dynamite that has killed so many, in peaceful applications as well as in war.

Neutrality is not a comfortable topic in Sweden. In the military museum in Lidkoping, Sweden is even shown as a participant, not a neutral, as though it always supported the Entente or the Allies at heart. Not necessarily so. A 2007 academic paper about Sweden's armed neutrality in World War I,  by an outsider, may be a good starting point, rather than reading a country's own accounts. A Sim, Ky-Chiu, taking part in an International Program, Korean Minjok Leadership Academy wrote this WHKMLA Paper at

The paper confirms that Swedes were ambivalent about criticizing Germany, whose political structure, military and economic progress they admired. It was mainly the "free thinkers" and "free traders" who were inspired instead by Great Britain. Sweden had commercial interests, and long associations, with the countries at war, especially Germany. And Sweden benefited greatly economically by its position of neutrality. Some would say they had little choice, being so close to the German forces, and seeing the Russian abuses of the Finns.  See paper.  Still, never bombed, it could retain its resources despite hardships when food shortages resulted from later blockades, and post-war flu struck.

In the early years, however, Sweden prospered. Sweden. Armed neutrality. Sweden mined the shipping lanes giving access to the inner Baltic, a step favoring Germany and hindering the Entente fleet in WWI.

Was it a Swedish mine that sank the HM Drifter Catspaw, bodies washed ashore here?  See above.  Sweden did not act neutrally. It also kept importing goods from Germany; and facilitated communications between Germany and others, to further German goals. See the paper; and comment about the Lidkoping Military Museum, where ambivalences are carefully avoided. Then again, we would probably do the same.  Our leaders decide what gets told, just as theirs.

Back to Anderson, unstraightened, not highlighting the wood carving for the name, but showing how it stands out among the other markers.  There is only a rimmed outline for the grave itself.

Many here from the Commonwealth were Australian or New Zealanders, known as ANZAC.  An annual commemoration takes place in the spring. See

The marker next to Anderson:  perhaps these are not military after all? On this side? Several people are here, and it looks like serial numbers?

No comments: