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Escape from the Third Reich (Paperback)

Folke Bernadotte and the White Buses

Military > Frontline Books > Frontline: WWII WWII > Hitler & the Third Reich

By Sune Persson, Preface by Brian Urquhart
Frontline Books
Pages: 274
Illustrations: 16
ISBN: 9781526760715
Published: 25th April 2019


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The story of the White Buses is one of the most extraordinary humanitarian efforts of the Second World War. Yet it is a story that remains little known.

At a time when the Nazis were hanging on desperately for survival, and while chaos reigned in Germany, Count Folke Bernadotte, along with the Swedish Red Cross and the Danish government, conducted negotiations with Heinrich Himmler. Between them they successfully engineered the release and transport of prisoners from concentration camps to a neutral country – Sweden.

The mission became known for its fleet of distinctive buses. Painted entirely white, these vehicles carried the Red Cross emblem and Swedish or Danish flags so that they would not be mistaken for military targets. The various expeditions to the German concentration camps were long and highly dangerous, with every move watched by the SS and the Gestapo. The conditions the rescuers encountered at the camps were beyond comprehension.

Due to the chaotic conditions during the last weeks of the war in Europe, it is impossible to say exactly how many prisoners were liberated in the course of the operation, but according to conservative figures the so-called White Buses helped transport at least 17,000 prisoners to Sweden by 4 May 1945. Undoubtedly, the White Buses saved thousands from a miserable existence or, worse still, death in the camps. This is the story of their journey.

This is a fascinating insight into a little known rescue mission at the end of World War II. A well written and informative piece, the photographs give a brief insight into the white buses and how they saved many from death. Until I read this book I did not know the story of the white buses and the determination of those who wanted to save others from the death camps.

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Sune PerssonĀ“s book is simply put one of the most important ones for any student of the Nordic states during WWII.

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Lars Gyllenhall, Blogger

The story of the White Buses is sad, moving, exciting and inspirational.

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It is a complex story, full of torturous negotiations with overlapping Nazi agencies, yet it is told with precision and considerable elan by Persson. His book is a comprehensive and wide-ranging treatment of the subject.. As such, it is sure to represent the final word on a most heroic and courageous enterprise'.

BBC History Magazine

About Sune Persson

SUNE PERSSON was a Senior Lecturer and Associate Professor at the Department of Political Science at the University of Gteborg, Sweden. The first edition of this work was published in Sweden in 2002 as Vi ker till Sverige: De vita bussarna 1945 (We Are Going to Sweden: The White Buses in 1945).

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