1945 – Destination Sweden

Photo: Gullers, KW Nordiska Museet

The book is available as E-Book for € 5,- at https://www.lulu.com/de/de/shop/jan-van-ommen/war-end-destination-sweden/ebook/product-1gq9d7wy.html

En de Nederlandse versie: https://www.lulu.com/en/en/shop/jan-van-ommen/1945-naar-zweden/ebook/product-w7p7jr.html


Late 2014, I received an enquiry from a Dutchman concerning an incident during the evacuation of approximately 7100 women from the concentration camp Ravensbrück. Henny Blok was trying to find out what happened to his his aunt Neeltje Blok during the war. She had died in a fatal accident on her way from Ravensbrück to Sweden April 1945. Allied fighter planes had attacked the Red Cross vehicles in Northern Germany. He contacted me because in March 2014, I had published an article in a magazine of the Dutch Vriendenkring Neuengamme, an association founded by former political prisoners of that concentration camp. My article described Dutch women in concentration camps at Horneburg and Reichenbach. Neeltje Blok had been in Horneburg before she returned to Ravensbrück. I optimistically started my investigation, it shouldn’t be too difficult to find out the details – after all, I live in northern Germany, I have good contacts with the Ravensbrück memorial site, my wife is Swedish and we lived eight years in Denmark, so I speak the languages. However, I didn’t find out what exactly happened to Neeltje Blok. It is not known during which incident she died, and we can only assume that she was buried in Lübeck. I did however find out where a number of the other women had died and where they were buried. The investigation revealed a lot of information about the evacuation of Ravensbrück and in its wake, about an additional transport of approximately 2900 women from Hamburg to Sweden and about the tragedy in the bay of Lübeck. The account of the evacuation from Ravensbrück to Sweden is not just of what became known as the story “The White Buses”. This report describes the tragic air attacks on the Red Cross vehicles that carried the women from Ravensbrück on their way to Sweden and it revaluates the role of the different parties involved with the rescue operation. The positive outcome of the rescue operation was very much the result of the right people being in the right place at the right time. It is less the result of preceding negotiations between Folke Bernadotte and Heinrich Himmler. The Nazis never stuck to their promises and hadn’t made noticeable concessions until there was no way out. In the case of Ravensbrück, this was when the Soviet Forces reached Berlin.




Which prisoners should be rescued?

Jewish prisoners

The rescue

The leather coat men

The situation in Northern Germany at the end of the war

The condition of the women

Arrival in Denmark

The heaven of Skatås

The dilemma

The rescuers

  The Swedes

    Erik Ringman and Gösta Hallquist

  The Danes

  The Norwegians

  The International Red Cross

  The Christian community

  The Germans

The air attacks

  The attack at Schwerin

  The attack at Wismar

    The victims of Wismar

  The attack at Plön

Summary of the Dutch and related victims

Friendly Fire

The transports from Ravensbrück

  The research

  French women via Switzerland to France

  Scandinavian women to Sweden

  Ambulance transport of French women by Arnoldsson

  The 1st tour of lieutenant Svenson and captain Folke

  The transports of lieutenant Hallquist and Pontoppidan Sørensen

  De various routes of the survivors from the convoy of Hallquist

  Women from the satellite concentration camp AL Malchow

  The 2nd tour by lieutenant Svenson


  Train transport from Ravensbrück

  With captain Ankarcrona from Neubrandenburg

  With the vessels SS Lillie Mathiessen en SS Magdalena to Trelleborg

   A ship-owner remembers

The disaster in the bay of Lübeck

At the hospital in Denmark

Those who were left behind in Ravensbrück

The transport from Hamburg to Sweden

Going home

Those who stayed in Sweden



Archives and acknowledgements

The internet