The Danish Brigade

OTD in 1945 Danish resistance disarmed the occupiers. The Danish Brigade consisting of 5,000 soldiers trained in Sweden was shipped from Helsingborg eager to participate in the liberation of their country. Less known, Sweden planned a full scale invasion of Denmark. Here is a thread about it. 

The Danish Brigade was established in Sweden in November 1943 and consisted of Danish refugees with or without military background. They were trained in Sweden and equipped for a liberation operation “when the time is right”. To their disappointment they were to late to actually liberate Denmark, but were still received as heroes. Had the occupiers not surrendered there was a plan B: Operation Save Denmark. Among the refugees receiving military training in Sweden where a number of pilots that were place two by two in different Swedish flight units and were eventually trained on the Swedish bomber aircraft SAAB B17. 

In the morning of May 5 1945, eight Danish pilots and eight Danish engineers stood in front of with their B17 aircrafts, ready to fly towards Copenhagen.

After the German defeats in both North Africa and Russia in the winter of 1942-1943, the Swedish defence staff began contemplate a German defeat and thus a breakdown in Denmark. There were also a fear of a Soviet expansion into Denmark. As early as during the summer of 1944 landing exercises was undertaken on the west coast of Skåne. The plan was to have Swedish forces (together with the Danish Brigade trained in Sweden) land in occupied Denmark during the first half of 1945.

The operation involved 3rd army corps consisting of two divisions, 7th motorized brigade and the 8th armoured brigade as well as numerous independent units such as the Danish Brigade with nearly 5,000 men. In total the force would have been 60,000 men with 6,000 vehicles. For the landings 1158 troop transport vessels, most of them small, would be used together with 100 naval vessels. Thirteen Danish naval vessels that were held in Karlskrona would also participate.

On May 4 the Swedish Chief of Staff  communicated that the operation was ready. If the order were given around May 5 the invasion would have take place around May 18. It would have begun with a coup like attack against the Helsingør harbour. Further landings would then have been made on Sjælland and Bornholm with emphasis on numerical superiority. To perform the actual landing Swedish naval units began to gather during April 1945. Along the west coast of Skåne, coastal artillery were placed for supporting fire. Most of the Swedish air force was based in southern Sweden to support the invasion. The magnitude of this operation would have been such that it would not have be possible to enter Norway at the same time. Such plans had existed since 1941, but that is a totally different thread. 

In the end the German forces in Denmark surrendered before the plan was executed.

Comment: This history lesson comes to you courtesy of Daniel Berlin of Stockholm. Don’t know anything else about him, but his twitter description is intriguing.

“Tradition should be like a torch to pass on, not ashes to be admired. Learn from the past, plan for the future but live in the present. Nostalgia is a cancer.”

I knew Sweden was officially neutral in WWII, but was in a geographically compromised position. Swedish iron ore helped power the Nazi war machine. But I think this story of the Danish Brigade and the planned invasion of Denmark shows where the Swedish heart was. I’m not at all surprised they want to join NATO after the Russian invasion of Ukraine.


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19 Responses to The Danish Brigade

  1. Leith says:

    What is the story on the old Bofors anti-tank gun on a raft (see item 6/13 of Berlin’s linked twitter thread)? Not especially high surf in the Baltic. But even a three footer might swamp that contraction. Although it looks like there may be some type of outriggers.

    • TTG says:


      It looks like two small boats powered by outboard engines tied together by that wooden outrigger contraption. It seems more suitable for river crossing or maybe for ship to shore movement.

  2. LeaNder says:

    I assume this is meant to celebrate Swedish intention to join Nato. Who else in the EU apart from Austria is no member yet. By the way? Switzerland is not EU. Is there anyone else still neutral?

    Considering history. Berlin’s twitter feed has a lacunae between 1942/43 and Sommer 1944.
    All this happend after the disillusioned Nazi member and German ambassador to Denmark, Georg Ferdinand Duckwitz, visited Stockholm after an unsucessful visit to Berlin in authem 1943. In Sweden he secretly met the Swedish Prime minister, Per Albin Hansson. Hansson agreed to provide shelter to to the Danish Jews who were supposed to be transported to the killing machines East soon. I am sure some of them joined the troops, as did the social democrats or socialists who better had left Denmark when the Nazis took over.

    Willy Brandt fled to Sweden too, after his arrest in Norway in Norwegian uniform by the Nazi occupation forces. They did not realize whom they captured.

    I would assume most tried to get to Sweden one way or another. Or to Switzerland for that matter.

    • kodlu says:

      What was Willy Brandt’s position at that time? Up and coming SDP cadre?

      • LeaNder says:

        I am not sure kodlu, Brandt had moved further left. The party he joined had broken off the SPD. In the Weimar Republic you had all those parties on the left and a whole lot more on the right fighting each other. His father was a Social Democrat and member of SPD member as was initially, I think. After the war he returned to the SPD.

        Yes, he surfaces in the English version: Socialist Workers Party

        Good to see you still around kodlu. Be well.

  3. English Outsider says:

    So many echoes sounding from eighty years ago. For the Russians of course it’s the Great Patriotic War come again. Some of the Donbass fighters have been referring to their enemy as Nazis for years. That term is now routine for many in Russia. And the Kiev ideologues, and even some further west in Europe, still speak of their enemy as Untermenschen. We all, Russians or Westerners, tread on ancient ground and all are comfortable with the old paths through it .

    I believe Sweden, like all the Scandinavian countries – and like the UK and France pre-war – had split sympathies when it came to supporting the Nazi regime in Germany. The Scandinavians were, after all, at the top of the tree when it came to being true Aryans. Still are. There are some there still who see themselves as crusaders for the white race and a trickle have been crusading in Ukraine since 2014.

    But as Churchill remarked, history is written by the victors and the victor’s story is now the story that holds. In that story, the Scandinavians would have fought the Germans in that long ago war had circumstances not prevented them.

    No odds now. If all goes to plan – and it looks as if it will – the Scandinavian countries will man the northern outerworks of our new Festung Europa. The ambivalence of eighty years ago is now resolved and all we Europeans shall stand shoulder to shoulder warding off the Asiatic hordes.

    For the outlines of the New European Order are now discernible. I’m pretty sure the Germans will stick with their new Ostpolitik. The electorate there does a good job, in the main, with the bewildered sheep act. Their politicians have them well in hand.

    From time to time I’ve been keeping an eye on Wagenknecht, one would have thought the most influential of the fringe or contrarian politicians. She’s very much a damp squib. Two important speeches recently. In neither does she dare mention North Stream 2. In neither of them does she dare point out that the country of Nie Wieder has gone full bore Wieder and has put its weight behind the neo-Nazis in Kiev.

    A few flickers of sanity, maybe. There was a very odd march in East Germany. AFD and thus way outside the borders of respectable in German politics. The marchers carried little circular placards with swastikas painted on them. Gave me a bit of a shock, that. You’re not supposed to wave swastikas around in Germany.

    But then I looked more closely. Saw the swastikas had a thin red line painted through them. The marchers were objecting to Scholz’s support of the Kiev neo-Nazis, not supporting it.

    So there’ll be some Germans around dead against Scholz’s Barbarossa II, but I think not many. In my circle in Germany – almost entirely Green or left – I have come across none who don’t want to tear Putin’s throat out. That heavy. So the bewildered sheep will in the main follow their leader into the DIY Morgenthau Plan that Scholz’s Barbarossa II has morphed into.

    They’d better. All over Europe free speech is restricted to an extent that would be unbelievable in the States. Any German expressing the views set out above would be having his collar felt. Or his bank account frozen. Or at the least, ostracised in respectable society.

    And as the European superpower goes, so will the rest of us. Welcome to Cold War II. Because that’s how it’s going to be in the new Festung Europa by the looks of it. Go long Rheinmetall. Or Lockheed Martin. Or any safe bet like that.

    • Billy Roche says:

      E.O. you keep settin’em up and I’ll keep nockin’em down. B/C Balts, Finns, Ukies, Georgians, and Hungarias had men dressed in nazi uniforms may, might, just could, mean they were hopeful of eliminating communists. They failed. The communist won, and Eastern Europe was treated to another 36 years of communist oppression. There was genuine sympathy in Britain for the Nazis b/f the war. Think there are any old nazi uniforms in London closets today? As to untermenschen… that’s what many, some, Russians think of Ukrainians, Balts, and other Slavs. I have both Ukrainian and Russian family. I’ve never heard my Russian family referred to as lessers. The reverse (and it is always so subtle) is not always true. Your mention of “festung Europa” (great imagery BTW), was caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Ukraine d/n invade Russia, Russia invaded Ukraine. Sadly, my friend, I think you just cant accept that all those Russian battle groups poised on the borders of Ukraine in February of 2022 did the invading. Repeat to yourself many times, Ukraine d/n invade Russia. Finally, your remark on free speech in Germany doesn’t surprise me. When have the Germans ever been fond of anything other than authoritarian gov’t. When they sang Deutschlund Uber Alles they weren’t sheizen around. They meant it. Finally congrats to you. As a 7 year old I watched Elizabeth’s coronation and again watched Charles’ this morning. I wish him well.

      • English Outsider says:

        Bill – the military stuff, for all the tragedy and death, was a sideshow. The politicians’ intention was to force the Russians to take military action so they could hammer the Russians with the sanctions.

        It was the sanctions our Western politicians put their money on, not a war none ever believed the Ukrainians could win.

        And the Russians were forced. Even the cautious and legalistic Putin had reluctantly to move. Had he not done so the people of the Donbass would have been destroyed or cleared out.

        A neocon scam. Vey much not the way to ensure Western defence, setting on a bunch of neo-Nazis, and it’s blown up in our faces. FAFO, and we have.

        I was grateful for your last couple of sentences. I didn’t watch the Coronation. Tourist trap stuff, I thought, and was all high and mighty about it.

        But you reminded me that it wasn’t about that. It was a ceremony of sacramental dedication. King Charles has a hell of an act to follow but seems he’ll be OK. I wish him well too.

        • TTG says:


          Putin wasn’t forced by the West to do anything, especially sending his invading army into Ukraine. Putin was dealing well with the meager sanctions applied after his invasion and occupation of Crimea. The current level of sanctions were applied only after he invaded Ukraine last year. If he didn’t invade Ukraine, there would not have been any additional sanctions. Putin brought this all on himself.

          • jld says:

            “The current level of sanctions were applied only after he invaded Ukraine last year. If he didn’t invade Ukraine, there would not have been any additional sanctions”

            This is exactly what EO said, so what is your argument?

          • English Outsider says:

            TTG – I believe the fateful day was 21st February, not the 24th. On that day the Russians finally had to accept that Minsk 2, or even a start to Minsk 2, was a lost cause.

            Had they not moved almost immediately the Kiev forces would have been in the Donbass and all hell let loose.

            My tentative view, the Russians left it to the last minute and perhaps left it a bit late. The speed with which the legalities were rushed through, and the imperfect arrangements for civilian evacuation, may show that. But late or not, they had to move. We left them no choice.

            Was it legitimate for the Russians to pre-empt a military attack by the Kiev forces?

            Had to be. A large NATO trained army was in a posture of attack on the border. The shelling had greatly increased. In such circumstances no General Staff, Russian or any other, could have risked sitting back and relying merely on the hope that the Kiev forces would not invade the Donbass.

            Any American or British General, faced with such a threat, must have moved immediately to pre-empt. So too the Russians.

            I also venture to disagree with the view – most reluctantly too! – that you have expressed, and others here, that all would have been well had the Russians moved only into the Donbass and had gone no further.

            That would have served to trigger the “Shock and Awe” sanctions just as surely as any other Russian military move.

        • Billy Roche says:

          I’ve never had much respect for “Charlie my boy”. Although a coddled sap, who never seemed (to me anyway) to have his mother’s blessing, he did outlast her. Elizabeth, I thought, was the last qualified member in the line of English monarchs following Cromwell. The current brood seems poised to succumb to notoriety not royalty. There must be a difference b/t “commoners” and their monarch or why have one. Charles has no legal function in gov’t but he has, if used sparingly and wisely, an obligation to comment on the soul of the British people. Stop tree hugging (I am kind of one myself though), and forget cozying up to pop singers and sports stars. The people want more from their liege lord and Monarch. Atonements remain to be made in India and Ireland and Charles could do much good there. The question of “Scotland remain” harkens back to 100 years b/f 1706 and is more than just a question for Parliament. It demands a response from the King. The coronation was more than just P.R. Used wisely/sparingly it tells England you still have a king and he can help if you demand so and he is able. We’ll find out how able is Charles. Lets give him a chance.

    • AG says:

      Speaking of split sympathies: “If we see that Germany is winning the war, we ought to help Russia; and if that Russia is winning, we ought to help Germany, and in that way let them kill as many as possible.. . ” — Senator Harry S. Truman, 1941.

    • Fourth and Long says:

      English Outsider,
      Paragraph pasted from linked article below. It never ended and never will.

      It’s a long time ago and in a place called America where Joe Biden presided over the character assassination of Anita Hill who bravely warned us about this moron now on the supreme court.
      Do you remember Anita Hill testifying that Clarence Thomas referred to himself, while trying to get her into bed as: Long Dong Silver?
      Some of us do. These are the people in charge of law in this country now.
      Last month, the investigative journalism website ProPublica published a series of exposés documenting the fact that Clarence Thomas, a vicious opponent of the democratic and social rights of the working class, has accepted millions of dollars worth of unreported “gifts” from Harlan Crow, a billionaire Republican Party donor who sports a collection of Hitler and Nazi artifacts at his Texas mansion and calls Marxism his greatest fear.

  4. Fourth and Long says:

    Day Knish.

    Did you say “day Knish? What in the world is .. ”

    Those are the varieties of Knish offered during daylight hours. An example of proper usage might be “Excuse me, Lieutenant Colonel, I see you are looking over our wares. Can I interest you in a muffin, a scone, or one of our several varieties of Day Knish, on sale every morning until June, only during daylight hours?”

    [Whispers: “I predict he will want a scone. It rhymes with drone, a subject lately on his mind.]

    “Why thank you so very much. Are you new to the commissary? Since you are so very kind to offer, may I inquire as to whether instead of a Day Knish, muffin or scone, you might have a fresh Danish? And by the way, you aren’t Amish, are you?”

    [Whispers: “Did you see that coming?” “No, but I was on the right track at least.” “Do you think he’s gone mad?” “I’m not sure. It’s certainly very unusual isn’t it?” “Yes. We should speak to the young woman. If it’s as serious as I suspect he may return later asking for a goodnight Knish, and things might get out of hand.”]

  5. ked says:

    that’s a pretty serious team time-trial line up.

  6. Laura Wilson says:

    Thanks for posting this great history lesson. Fascinating.

  7. jim ticehurst.. says:

    On This Day…In History…

    Monday May 8th 1945 President Harry Truman announced on the Radio that
    “NAZI Forces had Surrendered,,”

    Monday May 8th..2003…The SENATE unanimously endorsed adding seven former Communist Nations to NATO…Bulgaria, Estonia,Latvia,Lithuania, Romania,Slovakia, and Slovenia…

    May 8th 2020…The Unemployment level surged to 14.7%,,,and 20 million Americans
    had lost thier job..

    How Many Billions and Billions of Dollars were ,Stolen from State..Federal and Local Assistance Programs …COVID Related..By International Hackers..Scammers..
    Dirty Rotten Thiefs…Like The Chinese and Russians Who Have Hacked All of
    Americas Data..yiurs..mine..All USG..DOD..FBI..SS, And Your Dogs Name and Breed.

    Oh Well…Hell is Hell…and i have to go see how many bodys outside Today..
    From Sea…To Shing Sea..Pilgrims..

  8. Al says:

    TGG, Thanks for rec Steinbeck’s THE MOON IS DOWN. Tho placed in a fictional land, I kept thinking of Danes as the resistence…seemed to fit quite well.

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