Krampen


In November 1943, the royal social board decided that a detention camp for Soviet prisoners of war would be established in Krampen outside Skinnskatteberg, Västmanland. These were prisoners who fled from German captivity in Norway and Finland and who crossed the border into Sweden. Since Sweden was officially neutral, the prisoners of war could not be sent back to either the Soviet Union or Germany. The camp was established in cooperation with the Soviet legation in Stockholm, which also provided financial resources. The camp was not the first camp to be established, as early as 1942 a detention camp for Soviet citizens had been established in Baggos mansion and a guest house called Udden in Baggbron, all in Västmanland.

Construction of the camp began in December 1943 and was built by soviet prisoners of war. The choice of location was due to the isolated situation that made it problematic for prisoners and outsiders to get in touch with each other. From the Soviet side there were ideological motives to minimize the prisoners’ contact with all forms of Swedish culture. The nearby railway and station also contributed to the choice of location because it simplified transportation to and from the camp. Another reason was all the state forest around the camp where the prisoners could work. A total of ten prisoner barracks, commandantour, assembly hall, dining room, pump house, laundry room and cellar were established. No fencing had to be erected around the camp.

The prisoners worked with forest work and road work and they received wages for which they bought various goods. The work was of course of a much milder nature than what they had fled from and they probably had it very good. Outside working hours, the prisoners could watch films and engage in other leisure activities, certainly activities and films approved by the Soviet legation. But it was only a matter of time before the prisoners could be sent back to the Soviet Union. This was the occasion when the Soviet Union and Finland concluded a peace agreement in September 1944. Already next month, two vessels from the port of Gävle sailed with 900 Soviet citizens, including all 300 prisoners from Krampen.

What then happened to the prisoners in the Soviet Union is not clear, but from the Soviet side prisoners of war were seen as potential traitors and probably a number of them ended up in camps, others were perhaps exiled to internal exile and it cannot be excluded that some were even executed. From the Swedish side, they did not at this time end up on a collision course with the Soviet Union and the extradition was never discussed. After the war, Krampen came in the summer and autumn of 1945 to house refugees from Latvia, Romania and Jews. In November 1945, the camp was dismantled and a few years later it was demolished.

Current status: Demolished with information boards/monument (2015).

Location: 59° 44' 30" N 15° 34' 50" E

Get there: Car.

My comment:

In 2006, an excavation and documentation of the camp were made and nowadays there are a few information boards placed on the camp site. The old railway station is long gone, but the laundry room is preserved and of the other buildings there are both ruins and foundations left to see and which are easy to find by the side of the road. About seven kilometers southeast of the camp is the location of the "Russian stone". When the prisoners built a road, some prisoners probably took the opportunity to carve in the hammer, sickle and star and write CCCP on a stone next to the road. Next to the "Stone" is another monument that was established in 1999 commemorating the deportations for the approximately 2000 Soviet prisoners of war who sat in Sweden during the war. But the feeling is that the stone is really aimed at the fate the prisoners met on their arrival in Soviet Union than to their ”captivity” in Sweden.

Follow up in books: Gilmour, John: Sweden, the Swastika and Stalin - The Swedish Experience in the Second World War (2011).