Sweden's war aims if it will enter WWI on the CP side?

Larrey

Ad Honorem
Sep 2011
5,771
It's a what-if so we can assume all kinds of things.

The fundamental problem for ALL such scenarios for Sweden joining any of the European fights in the 19th and 20th c. is that the some of the basic conditions for why Sweden historically declined these things remain in effect

It was there already by the Crimean War. Swedish politicians weighing the options concluded that while joining a war against Russia alongside a massive alliance might well succeed, that still creates a number of problems:

1) It's assuming it succeeds, and Russia is defeated. If it isn't but Russia is instead victorious, and Sweden a hostile aggressor, then continued Swedish national independence itself goes on the line. Maybe not risk that unless actually forced to? (Or as Charles XIV/Bernadotte had it in his death-bed advise to son Oscar (I): "Only fight a war with Russian when you have exhausted every other possibility – with the UK: never.")

2) Even with Russia defeated that then begs the question: What next? Russia will hardly be gone, but rather harbouring a decided grudge. How will Sweden keep what is, according to a reasonable Russia view, illgotten gains that rightly appertain to Russia? If Russia decides on a rematch, what kind of guarantees to allow Sweden to keep these gains have other great powers given? Effectively will they fight and defeat Russia on Sweden's behalf at some later point? And such guarantees were non-existant.

But, for Sweden to join the CP it would effectively require a royal coup d'état under the at least nominal leadership of king Gustav V in 1913, as the outcome of the "Farmer's March" on Stockholm. It would give someone like Sven Hedin the opportunity to actually get to play the "kingmaker" and radical shaper of Swedish national policy he clearly dreamed of.

Those kinds of ambitions underlay the "Farmers' March" (Bondetåget) initiative to organize some 30 000 people (purportedly "stout yeomen" of pure Swedish stock kind of thing) convene on the royal castle is a well-orchestrated-supposedly-spontaneous-outpouring-of-patriotic-feeling-and-monarchical-piety, and petition the King to do... something. Had it been up to the German-born queen her hubby Gustav should have made himself a de facto ruling king, suspending the constitution and parliament. But he wasn't up for it. (How successful that could even have been is debatable, considering the Workers Party counter march the next assembled twice the crowd – a recipy for civil war possibly.)

So it's assuming Gustav V grabs the reins of power in 1913, and leads Sweden down a road indicated by the likes of Hedin, towards autocracy, militarism and revanchistic war as a junior partner to Imperial Germany.

On such an assumption one can think pretty much as big as one likes. Why stop at just Finland? ;)
 
Apr 2018
979
Upland, Sweden
Too embarrassing to tell me? :);)
Well, no - not really haha. It was mainly that I didn't read your post thoroughly, and thought you were making the same point again. :p


Yeah. I mean, most people in Latvia and Estonia aren't ethnic Germans and thus to them it shouldn't make much of a difference whether they're ruled by a German or a Swede. The Swede might even be more appealing since there is a history of German domination in Latvia and Estonia--with German elites ruling over Latvian and Estonian peasants for centuries. Thus, a Swedish monarch might be perceived as being more neutral in whatever disputes pop up between the Baltic Barons (the Baltic German elites) and the Latvian and Estonian majorities.
Yes. There is also a perception (no doubt gleefully latched onto by us Swedes) in the Baltic countries of the locals thinking back to "the good Swedish days" for those two centuries when the Russians were not there. Sweden was pretty decent from what I've understood: reigned in the Baltic German Nobility somewhat, founded universities etc. I'm sure it looks especially good in retrospect. So yes, a Swedish monarch could be good. Also, at least Estonia the coastal Swedes (rannarootslased) were not thrown out of the country en masse, unlike what happened to much of the Baltic German Nobility after 1919. So yes, it would be a very diplomatic move.

It does seem like something that they can live with, though. Also, Sweden would have presumably lost a lot of lives in WWI in this scenario and thus feel entitled to a good reward--possibly more than just Finland. I mean, if the Germans are still going to aim for Brest-Litovsk in the East, the Swedes could naturally ask the Germans to throw them some bones rather than to hog the entire meal for themselves.
Once again, this whole scenario is doubtful to me (I'll explain soon, I'm not studying anyway) but I'm not sure about Sweden loosing "a lot of lives". Sweden is a small country, would have been 1/10th of Germany at the time. Sweden was also not terribly militarized (and the military was also not terribly well maintained) at the outset of World War 1. I'll come back to that.


Not Wilhelm's niece, but Wilhelm's first cousin. Wilhelm's father, Kaiser Frederick III, was the brother of Princess Louise of Prussia--who was the mother of Princess Victoria of Baden:

Princess Louise of Prussia - Wikipedia

I just hope that familial relations between her and Kaiser Bill were pretty good. :)
Right. Had a gut feeling the age didn't quite add up there...

It seems to have been a not too close relation, but not too far away either. I'm sure it could theoretically be ramped up if the geopolitical situaton would prove advantageous for it...
 
  • Like
Reactions: Futurist
Feb 2014
324
Miami
Sweden dreamed of having Finland back. The Estonians see themselves as Scandinavians. I mean, I don’t see Sweden getting more than that. Idk if they will even keep it once the Germany surrenders after the failed spring offensive. I doubt Sweden will play much role to cause much more changes in the war
 
  • Like
Reactions: Futurist
Apr 2018
979
Upland, Sweden
It's a what-if so we can assume all kinds of things.

The fundamental problem for ALL such scenarios for Sweden joining any of the European fights in the 19th and 20th c. is that the some of the basic conditions for why Sweden historically declined these things remain in effect

It was there already by the Crimean War. Swedish politicians weighing the options concluded that while joining a war against Russia alongside a massive alliance might well succeed, that still creates a number of problems:

1) It's assuming it succeeds, and Russia is defeated. If it isn't but Russia is instead victorious, and Sweden a hostile aggressor, then continued Swedish national independence itself goes on the line. Maybe not risk that unless actually forced to? (Or as Charles XIV/Bernadotte had it in his death-bed advise to son Oscar (I): "Only fight a war with Russian when you have exhausted every other possibility – with the UK: never.")

2) Even with Russia defeated that then begs the question: What next? Russia will hardly be gone, but rather harbouring a decided grudge. How will Sweden keep what is, according to a reasonable Russia view, illgotten gains that rightly appertain to Russia? If Russia decides on a rematch, what kind of guarantees to allow Sweden to keep these gains have other great powers given? Effectively will they fight and defeat Russia on Sweden's behalf at some later point? And such guarantees were non-existant.

But, for Sweden to join the CP it would effectively require a royal coup d'état under the at least nominal leadership of king Gustav V in 1913, as the outcome of the "Farmer's March" on Stockholm. It would give someone like Sven Hedin the opportunity to actually get to play the "kingmaker" and radical shaper of Swedish national policy he clearly dreamed of.

Those kinds of ambitions underlay the "Farmers' March" (Bondetåget) initiative to organize some 30 000 people (purportedly "stout yeomen" of pure Swedish stock kind of thing) convene on the royal castle is a well-orchestrated-supposedly-spontaneous-outpouring-of-patriotic-feeling-and-monarchical-piety, and petition the King to do... something. Had it been up to the German-born queen her hubby Gustav should have made himself a de facto ruling king, suspending the constitution and parliament. But he wasn't up for it. (How successful that could even have been is debatable, considering the Workers Party counter march the next assembled twice the crowd – a recipy for civil war possibly.)

So it's assuming Gustav V grabs the reins of power in 1913, and leads Sweden down a road indicated by the likes of Hedin, towards autocracy, militarism and revanchistic war as a junior partner to Imperial Germany.

On such an assumption one can think pretty much as big as one likes. Why stop at just Finland? ;)
You brought up very similar things to what I was about to bring up. Yes, the Queen felt Gustav V was a bit of a weakling, that is my interpretation as well. [On a side note, you seem to perhaps have read Axel Odelbergs Med Kungen som Verktyg? You know Swedish, if I am correct? :)].

To build on what you said about the political situation: a royal coup does not make sense. The political right had previously tried to placate the left by instituting universal suffrage to the Second Chamber (almost analogous to the Commons) in parliament when Arvid Lindman - a relative moderate - was prime minster in 1910. Would the king now go in and what, together with the military (the underfunding of which was the very reason the "Courtyard Crisis" and the "Farmer's March" came into being) "assume control"? Absurd. Doesn't make any political sense.

If one backs further away and looks at the even more fundamental preconditions, we also have to consider that Sweden was in personal-union with Norway up until 1905, at which point it just let Norway slip away, essentially. Why? Meh, it was more practical - and who are we to keep the Norwegians with us if they don't want to be here? This is not the kind of mentality a country with great power ambitions has, although to be honest had Gustav been somebody else than he was, he might be inclined to do something about it. (But even in such a hypothetical the cat is already out of the bag.)

It might also be interesting to talk a bit about the Swedish experience with nationalism during the 1800s. After we lost Finland our ruling classes faced a trauma just as big or bigger even than when we lost our supposed great power status after Karl the XIIth. So, much of early Swedish nationalism during the 1800s was "pan-Scandinavist" - we can't be an Empire, we can't even have Finland, but hey, we can at least be primus inter pares among our linguistic brethren, right? Our national anthem to this day sings about "the North" - it does not mention Sweden explicitly once. Of course, then the Schleswig Holstein war happened and ever since Sweden failed to intervene our fides as a kind of "Scandinvian big daddy on a small block" was not very credible. If we didn't aid Denmark when they most needed it and the one time we could have made a difference - what legitimacy does pan-Scandinavism (and ergo Swedish greater power ambitions) have?

Essentially the 1800s and early 1900s is one long story of Sweden failing in any great power claims and the more ambitious parts of our elites having to confront this psychologically kicking and screaming, while also not daring to do much about it - lest things go even worse than they did in 1809. Together with everything else, these are the reasons while I think the premise of the entire question is unconvincing. I do think we could (and should) have annexed Åland though - even in the OTL - even if that we might mean we loose it as a prime destination for booze cruises...
 
Last edited:
  • Like
Reactions: Kotromanic

Larrey

Ad Honorem
Sep 2011
5,771
Sweden dreamed of having Finland back.
Not really. In the first couple of decades after the loss of Finland there was a kind of contest between the "great Swedeners" and the "little Swedeners". The former dreamed of a reconquest of Finland. The latter's position was best summed up in a poem by the poet-bishop Esais Tegnér, exhorting the Swedes to just accept the loss, and that the task now was to: "Within the borders of the realm, reconquer Finland" (att inom egen gräns/återerövra Finland – the poem "Svea" (female national personification of Sweden), 1811).

The problem with the revanchistic dreams of the "Great Swedeners" was that it was wholly unrealistic. Which is why they lost out and Sweden from mid-18th c. was completely dominated by the "little Swedeners". Anyone who could do basic math could work out that given Sweden's limited population, and poverty, there was not returning to ANYTHING like the "Great Power Century" of the 17th c. Finland was gone a not coming back. Just Could Not Be Done.

So THAT kind of patriotic national outpourings in 19th c. Sweden almost automatically got a kind of back-ward looking anachronistic tint. It's even in the lines of the Swedish national anthem for firk's sake: "I know that are and remain what you were"... It's a weird line that effectively recognises that modern (19th c.) Sweden is in a reduced state, while stating that it doesn't matter since ESSENTIALLY it's supposedly still all the same...
 
Apr 2018
979
Upland, Sweden
Not really. In the first couple of decades after the loss of Finland there was a kind of contest between the "great Swedeners" and the "little Swedeners". The former dreamed of a reconquest of Finland. The latter's position was best summed up in a poem by the poet-bishop Esais Tegnér, exhorting the Swedes to just accept the loss, and that the task now was to: "Within the borders of the realm, reconquer Finland" (att inom egen gräns/återerövra Finland – the poem "Svea" (female national personification of Sweden), 1811).

The problem with the revanchistic dreams of the "Great Swedeners" was that it was wholly unrealistic. Which is why they lost out and Sweden from mid-18th c. was completely dominated by the "little Swedeners". Anyone who could do basic math could work out that given Sweden's limited population, and poverty, there was not returning to ANYTHING like the "Great Power Century" of the 17th c. Finland was gone a not coming back. Just Could Not Be Done.
My interpretation is that a lot of the "Great Swedeners" became pan-Scandinavists (until they stopped being so during the last third of the 1800s) and after that had a bit of influence over public life and discourse. But broadly speaking I'd say you are right.

So THAT kind of patriotic national outpourings in 19th c. Sweden almost automatically got a kind of back-ward looking anachronistic tint. It's even in the lines of the Swedish national anthem for firk's sake: "I know that are and remain what you were"... It's a weird line that effectively recognises that modern (19th c.) Sweden is in a reduced state, while stating that it doesn't matter since ESSENTIALLY it's supposedly still all the same...
Interesting. I've always (or well, since I became historically conscious) interpreted that as a revisionist statement, in the light of pan-Scandinavism...
 

pikeshot1600

Ad Honorem
Jul 2009
9,958
What about Livonia and Estonia?
Well, it was no longer 1600 (or even 1700). By the turn of the 20th century, Sweden was a relatively prosperous country, while in 1600 it was quite poor. at the beginning of the 17th century, Swedish elites saw an array of hostile powers surrounding the kingdom and threatening its economic interests, and its religious independence in the case of Poland (actually not that likely, but, hey, it was 1600). Livonia (modern Latvia and Estonia) was both a strategic bridgehead against Poland, and also Russia, and an important - actually critical - source of revenue through tolls, taxes and licenses on the Baltic ports. Many (not all) of the Baltic ports were dominated by Sweden in the 17th century as outlets for the grain of Poland and Livonia, and also the Russian trade goods from the East.

The long war with Poland (effectively 1600-1660) was fought - with intermittent truces - to keep Poland as far away from the Baltic as possible, and to protect Swedish dominance over much of the Baltic trade. The several wars with Denmark were similar. The disastrous war with Russia and others until 1721 was not much different. By 1900 that was in the past, and Sweden was at the least a quasi industrial economy with products and natural resources that were in sufficient demand.

In the 20th century, the former Livonian parts of the old Swedish Baltic empire would have been seen as indefensible against far more powerful neighbors. Sweden's neutrality had served her well. No reason to get involved in WW I.
 
Last edited:

Larrey

Ad Honorem
Sep 2011
5,771
What about Livonia and Estonia?
Foreign countries, also in the past, which is a foreign country.

The reason Åland is different is that it's VERY close, and it is 100% Swedish speaking.

The status of the islands was up for arbitration in the League of Nations in te 1920's. They had a referendum and the Ålanders by a 90+% majority voted to be Swedish. And the the LN, contrary to every other similar situation it arbitrated after WWI, decided the islands should belong to Finland.