Much is said lately about Irish neutrality during WW2. The Times recently said our policy was shameful and showed “indifference to the evils of Nazism”. Lost in these comments is the fact that Ireland was far from being the only neutral country. And while neutral Ireland quietly helped the British and US by ignoring overflights and allowing captured British airmen to 'escape' to the north, other neutral nations gave far more substantial help to the Nazis.
Sweden remained officially neutral throughout the war. Yet they were the source of most of Nazi germany's iron ore and high grade steel used to make weapons. Sweden shipped tens of millions of tonnes of iron to Germany during the war - and munitions production would have stopped without this supply. They also supplied specialist machine tools and ball bearings. 37% of all Swedish exports during these years went to Germany.
Sweden also allowed German troops to transit Sweden between Norway and the Finnish front, in direct breach of their neutrality.
Sweden, like everyone else during that dreadful time, made compromises. They helped when they could - saving all Denmark's Jews, for example, in an audacious secret evacuation.
Every discussion of the Irish policy of neutrality ignores the context of the times, the fact that we were very limited in our options, and that others were forced to compromise more than we did. Irish neutrality was not shameful.
Denigrating neutrality during second World War has become fashionable - Irish News, World News & More | The Irish Times - Sat, May 11, 2013
Transit of German troops through Finland and Sweden - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Swedish iron mining during World War II - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia