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Did Swedish ball bearings keep the Second World War going?: re-evaluating neutral Sweden's role

Golson, Eric (2012) Did Swedish ball bearings keep the Second World War going?: re-evaluating neutral Sweden's role. Scandinavian Economic History Review, 60 (2). pp. 165-182. ISSN 0358-5522

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Identification Number: 10.1080/03585522.2012.693259


This paper examines the Swedish ball bearings industry during the Second World War, including subsidiary operations in Germany and the United Kingdom. It determines that these ball bearings were very important to the war effort in both countries, comprising in total about 58% of German supplies and 31% of British. Despite favouring Germany with more exports, the Swedish government allowed the British access to Swedish territory to ensure the delivery of the bearings through the German blockade. In relation to price increases for other exports, prices for ball bearings were time-dependent on the position of the acquiring country. From an overall perspective, the United Kingdom received a discount which Germany did not share. However, with the exception of direct exports, representing respectively about 10% and 15% of total German and British supplies, it would have been difficult for the Swedish industry to successfully withhold all supplies of ball bearings to either belligerent. Ultimately, any shortage of Swedish ball bearings in either belligerent could have been overcome only by long-term industrial changes and import substitution programmes.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2012 Copyright Taylor and Francis Group, LLC
Divisions: Economic History
Subjects: D History General and Old World > D History (General) > D731 World War II
D History General and Old World > DL Northern Europe. Scandinavia
Date Deposited: 25 Jul 2012 12:24
Last Modified: 20 Jul 2021 00:14

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