Neither Friend nor Foe: The European Neutrals

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At the outbreak of the war, in 1939, over thirty independent states spanned the European continent. As the Nazi war machine advanced across Europe, consuming almost everything in its wake, only five - Switzerland, Sweden, Spain, Portugal, and the Republic of Ireland - preserved their sovereignty and protected their populations from devastation. These were the "neutral" nations of the Second World War, which survived through a combination of strategy and sheer luck, and continual, strained negotiations with the ...
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Overview

At the outbreak of the war, in 1939, over thirty independent states spanned the European continent. As the Nazi war machine advanced across Europe, consuming almost everything in its wake, only five - Switzerland, Sweden, Spain, Portugal, and the Republic of Ireland - preserved their sovereignty and protected their populations from devastation. These were the "neutral" nations of the Second World War, which survived through a combination of strategy and sheer luck, and continual, strained negotiations with the Axis and Allies. Neutrality, in practice, often meant accommodating warring neighbors and appeasing the ascendant power. Until Germany lost its edge in 1942, it threatened invasion to exact costly compromises: Switzerland complied with press censorship and granted the Germans access to Italy via their Alpine tunnels; Sweden permitted transport of Nazi troops and war materiel to the Norwegian front. Spain's and Portugal's rightwing dictators paid homage to Hitler, and Franco went so far as to send Spanish soldiers to the Russian front. The Republic of Ireland, fearing British occupation as much as Nazi attack, maintained relations with the Germans, isolating themselves from the rest of the English-speaking world, and inviting accusations from the Allies of complicity with the enemy. Were these the policies of courageous leaders wishing to spare the lives of innocent citizens? Or, as the Allies alleged, cynical positions that prolonged the carnage? Jerrold M. Packard explores the ethical implications of the politics of neutrality, as he vividly evokes the complex forces at work during this tumultuous period. Here are stories of individual heroism and cowardice on a grand scale, dramatic rescues and mass slaughter, diplomacy and espionage. In this first comprehensive popular treatment of the subject, Jerrold M. Packard re-creates the war of the neutral powers, and the personalities who shaped the events, from Winston Churchill and Eamon de Valera to Raoul Wa
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Packard's assiduously researched study examines how the governments of Sweden, Switzerland, Spain, Portugal and Ireland reacted to pressures from the Axis to declare themselves either allies or enemies during WW II, and how events forced these nations to accommmodate first the Axis powers and then the Allied ones. Packard brings their plight into sharp focus: their neutrality depended more on Hitler's whims than on their own brave declarations. He credits Portugal's premier Antonio Salazar with materially influencing Francisco Franco to keep Spain out of the war. He shows how Sweden avoided German incursion by threatening to destroy the high-grade ore desperately needed to keep the Nazi war machine rolling, and how Switzerland vowed to block the tunnels linking Germany to Italy. Finally, Packard emphasizes that Eire (the 26 southern counties of Ireland) was the only one of the five neutrals to have risked invasion by both the British and the Germans. A professor of history at the University of Portland in Oregon, Packard ( Sons of Heaven ) writes elegantly and informatively of an important but long-ignored aspect of WW II. (Nov.)
Library Journal
Although it is generally known that Sweden, Spain, Portugal, Switzerland, and Ireland remained neutral throughout World War II, few realize just how and at what price each nation maintained its precious status. Packard chronicles the perilous diplomatic path followed by each nation during the war, clearly defining the degree to which all were forced to accommodate the ever-increasing requests for war material, transport, and even military installations demanded by the belligerents. Based largely on memoirs and secondary sources, the work provides an excellent overview of the internal politics of the neutrals from the end of World War I through 1945. The sections on Spain, Sweden, and tiny Switzerland are especially strong, largely owing to Packard's superior biographical sketches on Francisco Franco, Per Albin Hansson, and Swiss General Henri Guisan. Although it would have been bolstered by a greater reliance on archival records, this is an excellent work suitable for all academic libraries with diplomatic or World War II collections.-- Joseph W. Constance Jr., St. Anselm Coll. Lib., Manchester, N.H.
Gilbert Taylor
Before September 1, 1939, all European nations were nonbelligerents. Six years later only five had escaped the war: Sweden, Switzerland, Ireland, Spain, and Portugal. Packard tells of their plight because it makes good copy, and also to illustrate the difficulties of neutral status. Each country was coveted by both sides. Each sought to deflect encroachments by threats of future belligerency, deterrent displays of defensive ability, or payment of bribes when shipping strategic minerals. The five stories are similar, except that Ireland's wrangling with Britain over Ulster is scarcely comparable to Germany's threats against Switzerland. Neutral countries had to carefully calibrate their policies to shifting balances of military fortune. If Franco was a little too early to send a division to help Hitler in the East, luckier Portugal showed better timing in giving the Allies access to the Azores only when the war's outcome was clear. Essentially an overview summarized from standard sources on the war--no small task given the volume of such--Packard's tome is not completely peripheral for libraries dedicated to a core collection, since most of Europe failed where these countries succeeded.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780684192482
  • Publisher: Cengage Gale
  • Publication date: 11/1/1992
  • Pages: 544

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