AFTER a year of tension, blitzkrieg and terror, Scandinavia seems to have reverted to its former rôle as the "quiet corner" of Europe. Mars, with his retinue of reporters, broadcasters and cameramen, has moved back to more familiar battlefields in the Balkans, the Near East and the Mediterranean. In the West, the crucial Battle of the Atlantic rages. Far from the headlines again, the conquered nations of the North are settling down to their new status as Germany's silent satellites in the great German living-space. It no longer is the dignified quiet of peace-loving, well-ordered nations. It is the stillness of the graveyard and the prison.

Hitler's sway over northern Europe is now firmly established. From Flensburg Firth to the North Cape, and beyond even to Spitzbergen, there is nothing to check his ambitions except perhaps Soviet Russia's influence in the eastern half of what Nazi geopoliticians call the Fenno-Scandian "Grossraum." British influence in this wide area has virtually ceased to exist. It would be foolish to delude ourselves on this basic, if unpleasant, fact. Too much importance has been given to the scattered raids which Allied naval units have lately carried out against Naziheld territory in Norway. These were brave and heartening actions, but they do not in any way affect the present military balance.

The pattern of Nazi domination in Europe today is variegated, ranging from more or less voluntary alliances, enforced "neutrality," and "protection" in approved gangster style, down through various degrees of vassalage to the most abject serfdom. The Scandinavian nations before the war began were a happy community unified by geography, racial origins, history, language and very similar democratic institutions. Today, according to Alfred Rosenberg,[i] ideological monitor of the Great German Reich, they are united with Germany by a "community of fate." "Fate," he declared, "so willed it that the German Reich has taken under its protection the entire territory from which once the German peoples migrated." In exchange for their traditional mutual ties the Scandinavian nations have received a new common denominator -- German "protection."

I. NORWAY

Unhappy Norway, because it dared resist German armed aggression, is being run on semi-colonial lines. No African governor-general ever held greater power or used it more ruthlessly against the natives than does Reichskommissar Josef Terboven, Hitler's local satrap.

On September 25, 1940, a coup d'état ended five months of fruitless negotiations between the occupying authorities and those elected representatives of the Norwegian people who had not accompanied King Haakon and the Government on their flight to London. Since then there is no law in Norway except Terboven's and that of his stooge, Vidkun Quisling. All constitutional guarantees have been suspended; the triple division of powers into legislative, executive and judicial, which is the hallmark of democratic administration, has been abolished; all legally appointed judges have been dismissed; and the authority of the Supreme Court is now subordinated to that of the Reichskommissar. Like workers in Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia, the Norwegian workers are forbidden to move from one place to another and are assigned dictatorially to jobs, at wages dictatorially fixed by the authorities. They have become practically serfs.

By the same stroke of the pen which put an end to half a century of progressive social legislation, Reichskommissar Terboven erased the traditional pattern of Norway's political life. All parties except Quisling's Nasjonal Samling were dissolved; King Haakon was declared to have forfeited his throne; and the Storting or parliament was abolished. The Administrative Council which had taken over the functions of government between April 9 and September 25, 1940, was sent home, and in its stead the Reichskommissar appointed thirteen "constituted cabinet ministers," all members of the N.S. or Nazi sympathizers, each with dictatorial powers in his domain.

Nasjonal Samling means National Union. The irony of this designation for Major Quisling's party of traitors, which could not succeed in electing even one representative to the Storting at the last election, was intensified after September 25. For with Hitler's aid Quisling really succeeded in bringing about a practically complete national union -- against himself. Before the war, Norway was subject to intense party strife, though it seldom degenerated into violence. Today all the four great traditional parties, the Conservatives (Höire), the Liberals (Venstre), the Agrarian Party (Bondeforbundet) and Labor (Arbeiderpartiet) are united in a fierce underground battle against Quisling and his usurpers, which at the most number five percent of the population.

At the moment of writing, Vidkun Quisling has not yet achieved his ambition of becoming Norway's head of state, but he has assumed the title "Föreren," an imitation of Führer and Duce, and of course he virtually directs the cabinet which is composed of his henchmen. This is by no means because Quisling shuns the responsibility of government, or that he has any consciousness of his own unimportance or inadequacies, but merely because during their year as Norway's unbidden guests, Reichskommissar Terboven and General von Falkenhorst have had opportunities to take the measure of Quisling and to test Norwegian feelings regarding him. They have not wished to complicate their thankless task further by openly investing him with the trappings of government.

This has led to a long-drawn-out and as yet unsettled tug-of-war between Berlin, where Quisling, through his personal ties with Hitler and Goering, is still highly regarded, and Oslo, where the leaders in the German civil and military administration know that he is the most hated and despised man in Norway. Probably the issue will be decided, one way or another, during the coming summer or fall.

Meanwhile, however, the N.S. and its storm troops, the hird, have had a free hand to deal with all opponents of the present Nazi régime. The dissolution of the Administrative Council marked the end of all moderation and compromise. There followed a ruthless terror, not less ferocious than anything which has happened on the Continent. A whole book could be filled with the bare outlines of the tragic fate that has overtaken thousands of Norwegian patriots -- jailed, tortured, shot or sent to concentration camps. Oslo alone has now three jails for political prisoners, guarded jointly by German soldiers and hirdmannen. The worst of them is "Mollergaten 19," where all sorts of atrocities have been committed.

In spite of all, Norway fights on. Neither the bitterness of defeat nor present sufferings have been able to crush the spirit of this gallant nation. And today, a year after the cessation of hostilities on Norwegian soil, the Norse stand out as one of Britain's strongest and most determined allies. In England, the legal Norwegian Government, headed by King Haakon and Prime Minister Nygaardsvold, has far from negligible forces at its disposal. Its biggest asset, of course, is the great Norwegian merchant fleet, which on March 1, 1941, still totalled some 900 vessels, with a gross tonnage of 3,600,000 tons, manned by 25,000 sailors. Contrary to current assumption, this fleet has not been turned over to, nor seized by, the British. It sails under the Norwegian flag and for Norwegian account, naturally in full coöperation with the British ally. The revenue from it, together with the proceeds of the gold reserve of the Bank of Norway which was rescued from the invasion, serves to finance the Norwegian war budget and to cover interest and sinking funds on foreign loans. Meanwhile, across the sea, at Toronto, Canada -- "Little Norway" -- a bigger air force than Norway has ever had in peacetime is being trained and equipped under the able command of Major Ole Reistad. It is eager to come to grips again with the enemy, and will in the near future.

II. DENMARK

Two years ago Denmark and Norway were, geography aside, very similar. Their kings were brothers, their political systems and social institutions were cast in much the same mold, and their languages were almost as like as are the English and American idioms. Today their lot is very different. Norway, which refused to follow Nazi instructions, has been duly chastised; Denmark, which entered docilely into Hitler's kindergarten, leads a happy life under German protection. Such, at least, is the Nazi picture currently presented to foreign correspondents, whether at press conferences in Berlin or on conducted tours through Copenhagen. On one such occasion, early last April, Dr. Joseph Goebbels said (according to the Stockholm daily, Svenska Dagbladet): "Denmark is not an occupied country. We have not been at war with Denmark, but we have concluded with that country an agreement for the cession of military bases. Denmark's sovereignty and her political independence are intact."

It is an equivocation to say that Denmark is not occupied, yet Dr. Goebbels was right in drawing a line between Denmark and countries which were occupied only after being conquered. Denmark refrained from resisting the invader, and in return has been spared many of the hardships imposed on other invaded nations.

Outward and evident changes in Denmark have been, indeed, surprisingly few. There is as yet no Reichskommissar in Copenhagen, and no Nazi puppet führer has been put in charge by the German military commander. Denmark still has a legitimate King, a constitutional parliament, a Socialist Prime Minister, a powerful Trade Unions Council and a Communist daily paper. The King and the Premier have held their posts for, respectively, twenty-nine and twelve years, not a bad showing in these times.

And yet, Denmark has nothing to be happy about. The Danes know that if the Nazis have so far seemed to spare their country, it is because they needed a Potemkin village to use in impressing other victims faced with the choice of surrender or resistance. But the list of small countries open to German invasion is about used up, and no more pretence of treating Denmark nicely is required. On scrutiny, too, we find that the half of Denmark's supposed privileges which are not destined to be short-lived are already a sham. The future outlook for Denmark is quite as black under Germany as it is for Norway, France, and Poland.

Many samples could be given of the real extent of Danish "independence" and of German "non-interference" in Danish internal political affairs. One or two will suffice. One day last November, the Minister of Commerce, long-time leader of the Danish Conservative Party, Christmas Möller, expressed some doubts about the chance that the country will ever collect a penny of the huge debt (then approaching the billion-kroner mark) owed to Denmark by Germany for requisitioned food and other supplies.[ii] The German Minister in Copenhagen, Herr von Renthe-Fink -- who is virtually a Reichskommissar for occupied Denmark -- at once forced Minister Möller to resign, and according to latest reports he is practically a prisoner in the hands of the Gestapo. The recent sudden recall of Henrik de Kauffmann, Danish Minister to the United States, is another example. Free Danes everywhere in the world gave unstinted applause to his act in signing the Greenland Pact with the American Government, and we may suppose that in King Christian's heart it met with the deepest approval. But the Copenhagen Government hastened to depose the Minister and indicted him on a charge of high treason and for violating the Nazi-inspired "spy law" that came into force last January. Shortly afterwards, the three Danish consuls- general in New York, Chicago and San Francisco, who had agreed with the Minister and who refused to return to Denmark, were similarly dismissed.

But it is in the economic field that the true nature of Denmark's "better fate" becomes most apparent. There is no exaggeration in stating that the Germans have systematically looted the country of all its resources and reserves. The new economic order is a "Raubwirtschaft," catering to the immediate needs of the occupying country without any regard for the future needs of the victim.

For nearly three-quarters of a century the economy of Denmark was based on livestock. It was large and scientifically handled, and it provided the chief staple products of the country -- butter, bacon, eggs, cheese. These commodities were principally sold on the British market. All other countries together, including Germany, in normal years took less than one-fourth of Denmark's farming produce. Since the invasion, however, Germany is absorbing not only all of the produce that used to go to Great Britain, but much more, to such a point that since last November even butter and milk have been rationed in Denmark. This sounds about as though coal were rationed in Newcastle or oil in Texas. But, we are told, this means real boom times for the Danish farmers, for the German buyers nominally pay more for Danish produce than the British used to do.

The whole transaction is a mirage. In the first place, it is not the Germans who really pay for the goods, but the Danes themselves. Everything bought by the occupation authorities is paid for not in marks but in kroner. The Danish National Bank is forced to advance these kroner on behalf of the Reichsbank, which is supposed to settle the account after the war. An analysis of the Bank's latest statement to reach the United States shows that on February 28, 1941, Germany's open debt, on the clearing account, amounted to 488,000,000 kroner. Another item in the same statement lists "various debtors" as owing the Bank 536,000,000 kroner. Informed Danish sources assert that the latter figure represents another hidden German account, 400,000,000 kroner of it representing a forced loan which the Danish National Bank was compelled to make to the German High Command just after the invasion, to cover the costs of occupation. At the past rate of increase of about 70,000,000 kroner a month, it is reasonable to add another 280,000,000 kroner to the total of the Bank's debt since the above statement was issued. It thus becomes apparent that Germany at present owes nearly one and a half billion kroner to the Danish National Bank. Some observers put the figure very much higher.

Secondly, with the money the Danish farmer gets he can no longer purchase essential raw materials. Artificial fertilizers are indispensable for his fields and fodder concentrates for his cows and pigs and hens. Both were principally imported from overseas; but Denmark now is hermetically shut off by the blockade. As a result, the Danish farmers would have had to reduce their livestock even if it had not been systematically bought up and carried away by the Germans.[iii] According to latest reports, Denmark's stock of pigs has already been reduced by 50 percent, her cattle by 12 percent and her chickens by 60 percent.

Whatever the final outcome of the war, then, Denmark is a certain loser. In exchange for her livestock, the foundation and the pride of Danish economy, she is getting German I.O.U.s. If Germany wins the war, her past record in such matters makes the chances that the debt will ever be paid look slight. If Germany loses, Denmark is hardly likely to collect a mark from a country against which the whole world will have prior claims.

III. SWEDEN

Sweden's status in the New Order is not easy to define and hence it continues to be the subject of lively controversy. Official Swedish spokesmen both at home and abroad naturally repudiate suggestions that during the past year their country, too, has been integrated into Germany's Lebensraum. They claim emphatically that Sweden, while naturally forced to adapt her policies to the new conditions in northern Europe, has not waived her neutrality nor lost any of her independence.

It will be noted that this claim does not coincide with the official German view as expressed in the statement by Reichsleiter Alfred Rosenberg, already quoted above. He said that the German Reich had taken under its protection the entire territory from which the German peoples once migrated. This obviously includes Sweden. His statement was made only four days after the Swedish Government, in an official communiqué dated July 5, 1940, made public the famous "transit agreement" under which Germany was authorized to move both troops and "all kinds of goods," including war material, across Swedish territory on the way to and from Norway.

There also have been several indications that Washington is no longer able to regard Sweden as a country enjoying full freedom of action and maintaining a strict neutrality in the present conflict. Thus in October of last year an executive order barred delivery to Sweden of some 110 modern aircraft built in this country on orders placed more than a year ago. Shortly afterwards, President Roosevelt in a fireside chat let drop the remark that it would be no more "un-neutral" for the United States to aid Britain than it was for Russia and Sweden to place their economic resources at Germany's disposal. More recently word came from Washington that Secretary Morgenthau and the Securities Exchange Commission were suggesting that Swedish (and Swiss) balances in the United States be frozen in order to "prevent their manipulation by the Axis Powers."

Actually, a number of restrictions which the United States currently applies to trade with the Axis and Axis-controlled countries are already in operation against Sweden as well. At a lunch of the Swedish Chamber of Commerce in New York, on March 25, 1941, the Swedish Minister, Mr. Wollmar F. Boström, said: "The American export control system has, I regret to say, recently caused us a great deal of worry. Swedish industries which have for years relied on the United States for their supply of raw materials and semi-manufactured goods have been denied licenses, even when it is hard to see that the export would interfere with the American defense program." [iv]

There can be little question that Sweden, economically speaking, now forms an integral part of the German living space. Practically the entire Swedish output of iron-ore, timber and wood-pulp, and a great part of the foodstuffs produced in Sweden, are now going to Germany or to German-occupied countries. This is a logical consequence, of course, of last year's military events in northern Europe, and no one will blame the Swedes for adjusting their economy to existing conditions. Conversely, Sweden does not seem to have any right to object if other countries act in the same spirit and adapt their trade policy to the realities of Sweden's present economic status.

More open to debate than Sweden's economic orientation is the question where she now stands politically and militarily. Many people in other countries cling to the hope that she may be counted on at least as a potential ally against Germany; others consider this an illusion.

Sweden today is a tragically split personality. Her soul is torn between an inmost desire to preserve her age-old democratic institutions and ideals on one side, and the postulates of "political realism" on the other. There can be absolutely no question that at least 80 percent of the Swedish population pray for a German defeat. They know that only this would permit the survival of the traditional Swedish way of life and bring liberation to Danes and Norwegians, for whom the Swedes naturally have deep sympathy. But it is equally certain that Premier Hansson and Foreign Minister Günther are determined to pursue their present course, which means preserving the status quo and safeguarding Swedish interests through coöperation, within certain limits, with the dominant Power on the Continent, Nazi Germany.

The question arises whether Germany is likely to occupy Sweden in the near future, and, if so, what Sweden's chances are of resisting. An answer on both scores was given by Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels in the same press interview already quoted above. He said: "We have had no reason, nor are we interested, in occupying these countries [Sweden and Switzerland], or in seeking bases there. Nor do we harbor any plans for such action. But one need not know much about Germany's strength and her resources to realize that it would be a trifling matter [eine Bagatelle] for our army to occupy both Sweden and Switzerland."

German protestations of peaceful intentions towards this or that country often herald aggression against it, but in this instance Dr. Goebbels probably spoke the truth. The same four reasons which last summer prevented Germany from rounding off her other Scandinavian conquests by occupying Sweden still stand today. They are: (a) unlike Denmark and Norway, Sweden does not lie in the Anglo-German combat zone, hence invasion is not necessary for purely military reasons; (b) Soviet Russia has consistently opposed any change in the status of Sweden; (c) the concessions which the Swedish Government has made to Germany as regards foreign trade, the transit of German troops, and restrictions imposed upon the Swedish press have been considered sufficient in Berlin; (d) if the Swedes chose to offer armed resistance, occupation of their country might well prove costly, as the Swedish Army is well trained and excellently equipped.

The last point -- the size and equipment of the Swedish Army -- gives the Swedes a bargaining asset, but hardly more. The wish to maintain some sort of leverage may be the reason why Sweden has sacrified so much, in recent years, on a huge rearmament program. Four years ago her military budget was 148,000,000 kronor. For the current fiscal year it is 2,500,000,000 kronor. While a large part of the money has been raised through multiplication of taxes and duties, no less than 1,500,000,000 kronor have been voluntarily subscribed by the Swedish nation, on two defense loans, in the course of just over one year.

Nevertheless it would be a serious mistake to assume, as many casual observers do, that Sweden's tremendous defense effort is primarily aimed at fighting off a possible German invasion. The principal reason why Sweden is arming to the teeth is because she knows that sooner or later the day will come when the present Nazi-Soviet friendship will break. The ensuing Armageddon will undoubtedly engulf all northern Europe. In that situation the Swedish Government will face a peremptory demand from Germany either to join up and throw the whole weight of Sweden's armed forces into the battle or to bear the brunt of a German onslaught from three sides. All the indications are that Sweden is already preparing for such a contingency. As to the choice which the Swedish Government is likely to make, a good clue seems to be provided by the location and character of the recent army manœuvers, the biggest ever held in Sweden. They were held not along the Norwegian border but in the far north, around the powerful fortress of Boden, built by Sweden during the last war with an eye on Russia.

This is not unnatural. The Swedes, as a nation, nourish a traditional fear of their historical enemies, the Russians. For the last two decades this fear has been reinforced, in the large majority of cases, by an equally strong aversion for Bolshevism. The two emotions combine to make the Swedes feel much more strongly about the Soviet Union than they do about Nazi Germany. For though it is true that Swedes have developed an ideological opposition towards Nazism, this is largely offset by their traditional friendship for the German people. The result of this process of addition and subtraction is to leave Nazi Germany, in the eyes of most Swedes, as the lesser of two evils.

[i] Speaking in Berlin on July 9, 1940.

[ii] Under the latest Danish-German trade agreement, the Reich is not supposed to pay this debt until after the final victory.

[iii] A few months ago, some 25,000 head of Danish cattle were transferred to the new Nazi settlers in occupied Lorraine.

[iv] "American Swedish Monthly," April 1941.

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