text translated to English see below.
(click on the image to get it bigger)
BYRINGE INTERNMENT CAMP 1941–1944
This sign was produced by the Länna local history society.
An internment camp with
about 20 barrack huts was constructed in 1940–1941 on land
owned by the Swedish Forest Service (a public authority at
the time), at Rönntorp Farm in the province of Södermanland.
Its purpose was to intern unreliable Swedes if necessary if
Sweden were drawn into the world war. The camp was never
used for that purpose. After an inspection by the diplomat
Folke Bernadotte in July 1941,
the Defence Staff decided to appropriate the camp in the
event of a need to intern foreign military personnel. The
Internment Detail designated it the 3rd Internment Camp, but
it was commonly called the Byringe Camp.
After Operation Barbarossa began
in June 1941 (see the section GREATER CONTEXT), the Swedish
Government began planning for the possible internment of
Soviet military personnel who might flee to Sweden.
As one step in the preparations, the Byringe Camp was
surrounded by a 2-metre high and 3-metre wide barbed wire
fence in the summer of 1941.
THE ESCAPE TO SWEDEN
On the morning of 21 September
1941, two Soviet minesweepers (remodelled tugboats) with a
total of 60 men entered Swedish territorial waters at
They had managed to breach the German naval blockade of the
Estonian islands Hiiumaa and Saaremaa under cover of night.
The crews were transported with the Swedish destroyer
Remus to Nynäshamn for questioning and internment.
After questioning in Nynäshamn,
the Soviet sailors spent the first night in the internment
facility on Brännkyrkagatan in Stockholm. On the morning of
the next day (22 September 1941),
after passing through a decontamination facility in Ropsten,
the group was transferred to the Byringe Camp in the
That same day, Swedish staffs for
the camp as well as military guards were called to report in
immediately. The Swedish guards (4th Guard Company) numbered
160 men. The interns were housed in the existing barrack
huts, while the Swedish guards initially lived in tents.
Special barrack huts for the guards were erected later. The
staff were billeted at the nearby Länna Bruk, a former
By 11 November 1941, another 104
Soviet soldiers and officers had come to Sweden by sea and
were transferred to the Byringe Camp.
During the first year, internment
regulations were strict and the guards also patrolled with
dogs. The camp was illuminated at night – electricity was
drawn to the camp in December 1941.
The interns were counted in
morning and evening roll calls. No visitors were allowed.
Due to internal fighting, the camp
was divided into Camp A and Camp B in September 1942 (see
Beginning in the latter half of
1942, the restrictions were eased and it became possible for
interns to move about in the nearby area under Swedish guard
(see map, picture 6). Later, interns were also allowed to
work outside the camp.
Adolf Hitler and the Nazi
party come to power in Germany.
Germany and the Soviet
Union enter into a non-aggression pact, often
referred to as the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact.
Germany attacks Poland and
the Second World War breaks out.
begins – Germany attacks the Soviet Union.
The German army
capitulates at Stalingrad.
The siege of Leningrad
ends after 900 days.
Allied troops land in
Normandy. Soviet offensive on the Eastern Front.
Armistice between Finland
and the Soviet Union.
End of the Second World
War in Europe.
Swedish guard at the entrance to the camp.
Roll calls were held morning and evening to count the
interns. The interns wore Soviet uniforms the entire time.
Staff from the Soviet Embassy visited the camp several
times. Ambassador Alexandra Kollontai visited the camp on
two occasions in 1942. The third man from the right is the
camp’s first Swedish commandant,
Cavalry Captain Baron Carl Rosenblad. The man on the far
left is the head interpreter, Captain Rudolf Rasch.
Left: the commandant from 1944, Cavalry Captain Hadar
Egnell. Right: the head interpreter Captain Rudolf Rasch.
Barrack huts 5 and 6, with Rönntorp Farm in the background
and a picture from the camp’s grounds.
Map of the location of the camp in Länna (for A and B, see
under the heading THE CAMP). The red line indicates the area
in which the interns were allowed to move more freely once
restrictions were eased.
The area stretched from Lake Salvaren with its swimming area
in the south-east to the shop at Länna Bruk in the
north-west (Military Archives, Stockholm).
The interns had to wear an armband with a red star, or a
star sewn onto their clothes, when outside the camp and not
in full Soviet uniform.
Map of the area of the camp before (left) and after (right)
it was split into Camp A (I on the map) and Camp B (II on
the map). Two of the buildings (nos. 9 and 13) are still
standing and are now private homes (Military Archives,
After a while, an infirmary was erected outside the camp
area at Björklida Farm. The building still stands and is a
private home today.
Excerpt from a roll call list of interns numbered 1 to 164.
In addition to name and rank, it lists cap and shoe size.
WORK AND LEISURE
During the first year, the interns
worked to make the barrack huts completely liveable.
Initially they lacked insulated floors and roofs.
During the second year, the
interns were allowed to work outside the camp. To begin
with, they worked on the construction of the new national
road 55, in forestry and in agriculture. They earned SEK
1.50 per hour.
The roadwork covered a new stretch of road across the heath
east of Länna Bruk and connection to the new motorway bridge
over the station area in Byringe. Later, interns were also
offered work in the town of Åkers Styckebruk.
Local hauliers in Länna and Strängnäs were hired to
transport interns between the camp and their places of work.
All interns were under guard when working outside the camp.
During the first year, internment
regulations were strict. Some interns spent their free time
building model boats – including a model of the Swedish
frigate Rättvisan, which was given as a gift to King
Other models of Swedish warships were also built, as well as
a model of the merchant ship the Kalmar Nyckel. The
Swedish Lloyd Line ordered a model of its passenger vessel
the S/S Saga.
Through Swedish donations, several
board games were delivered to the camp. The Soviet Embassy
provided the camp with newsreels and Russian literature. The
interns could also borrow books in Russian from the Länna
ABF library. The Royal Swedish Academy of Music lent out
Later in the internment period,
interns were allowed to take day trips under guard. They
could use the money they had saved from their work and
allowance (the Soviet Embassy granted the interns an
allowance of SEK 50 per month) to buy bicycles, musical
instruments and so on.
The interns socialised with the
local population as much as time and regulations allowed.
They held music and dance performances. Later, they were
granted excursions to Merlänna to go to the shops and attend
church. At least one football match was arranged between the
camp and Länna GIF. Chess players came to the camp from
Strängnäs and tournaments were held.
A trip to Stockholm was made in
1944 with visits to the Skansen open-air museum and the
WHAT HAPPENED AFTERWARDS?
After the armistice between
Finland and the Soviet Union in September 1944, plans were
made to decommission the camp. On 10 October 1944, 50 men
left the camp by lorry to Byringe station, continued on by
rail to Gävle and by boat to Turku, from which they could
take a train back home. Two weeks later, another 70 men
returned to the Soviet Union by boat via Stockholm.
Thirty-four interns from Camp B chose to remain in Sweden
and were granted asylum at the end of the war.
Of those 34, two later returned to the Soviet Union
(1951–1952), while the others stayed in Sweden, most of them
starting families here.
It is not clear what happened to
those who returned to the Soviet Union. In his book The
Gulag Archipelago, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn wrote that
returning prisoners of war were indicted for "anti-Soviet
agitation due to their suggestive portrayals of freedom and
well-being in the capitalist Sweden". The group Solzhenitsyn
wrote about in the book was called the Kadenko Group after a
former Byringe intern, Nikolai Gregorovitch Kadenko.
The journalist and author Hans
Lundgren states that many of those who returned to the
Soviet Union from the Byringe Camp were sentenced to 10
years in a labour camp.
After the Soviet soldiers left the
camp it became a transit camp for civilian war refugees.
After the camp was no longer needed, all of the barrack huts
were torn down, except for two laundry buildings which are
now summer homes. The guards’ barrack huts became a Home
Guard headquarters in Strängnäs and were later moved to the
grounds of Mälsåker Castle, where they serve as a café. The
infirmary in Björklida still stands and is now a private
All photographs except numbers 6–8
come from the Länna local history society archives. The
photographers are unknown, but were among the interns. The
camp’s activities were classified and photographs were not
allowed. However, interns were allowed to take, develop and
copy pictures within the camp.
Returning to the camp after a day at work, probably on Road
A work team on Road 55 receives a visit from their
interpreter, assistant vicar Christofer Klasson.
Some of the Soviet interns were good at basket weaving.
Many of the interns bought bicycles, and several who
couldn’t ride a bike, learned.
Socialising among the interns.
Trip to Stockholm in autumn 1944 with a visit to the
Some of the interns were skilled model builders. Pictured is
a model of the Swedish frigate Rättvisan, which was
given to King Gustaf V and is now in the collections of the
Visit to Länna Church.
Football match against Länna GIF at the Ålunda football
pitch (NW of Merlänna).
Russians and guards together with the local population at
the shop at Länna Bruk.