Security in the Baltic: Swedish Military Assessments of Finland, Estonia and Poland in the Interwar Period, 1920–1939

Fredrik Eriksson (Södertörn University, Sweden)

This paper focuses on how Swedish military attachés assessed Finland, Estonia and Poland during the interwar Period.  The aim is to explain how the attachés described their respective assigned countries concerning military structure and development, political development and stability, and the role each state played in the Swedish understanding of security in the Baltic.  Based on Swedish material, the paper will address the role each state had in the security policy of the region.  Although Sweden was neutral, its neighbors all played vital roles in a regional security system.  In terms of theory, the paper relies on belief systems in explaining the foundations for Swedish military assessments of these border-states.  In general, the situation after World War I was seen in positive terms as Sweden was protected from Russia by a shield of border-states.  At the same time, these states’ political systems were judged as unstable, which entailed the expectation of additional incoming information, for example from attachés.  The role of the military attaché as an observer of the political and military stability of the new states was crucial.  The information provided by the attachés was used in the Defense Commissions of the 1930s.  At the same time, the material they collection gives insight into the daily routines of military attachés concerning contacts and judging information.

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