Scandinavian Journal of History 2/2012: Britain and the Nordic Countries, 1944-1951

The last issue of the Scandinavian Journal of History came out. I haven’t had time yet to read it in-depth, but it is on the program for this week.

This issue comes as an aside to the publication of the Documents on British Policy Overseas dealing with the Nordic Countries 1944-1951. There is a video of the seminar that went with the launch of this volume of the DBPO. The video starts with a presentation by prof. Alyson Bailes, excellent as always.

Britain was a much more prominent actor in the Nordic region than France, and the documents collected in this volume give an excellent account of important developments, as Northern Europe slid from the equilibrium of the war to those of the Cold War. Obviously, the perspective of France is different, but there would be work to be done on the way the French leadership saw these movements in the North of Europe as parts of a wider European complex – especially in terms of the trade-offs involved in NATO’s creation.

An interesting aside to that: in fact, there is one French historian who published a good deal on Scandinavia between 1944 and 1950, and especially on the Danish and Norwegian decision to join NATO and to let go of the possibility to build a Scandinavian Defense Union. Professor Annie Lacroix-Riz published in the 1990s a series of articles dealing with the subject, leaning mostly on papers from the French Diplomatic Archives. A worthy endeavor on a worthy subject, only rendered problematic by Lacroix-Riz’ approach to her subject. Lacroix-Riz is a polemical historian (a quick Google search will confirm that), weaving into her research a mix of ideological communism, conspiracy theories, and an intractable conviction in the righteousness of her views. The articles she published on Scandinavian high politics in the period 1944-1950 quite obviously bear the mark of this ideological grid: for Lacroix-Riz, faced with a Soviet Union that had no bad intentions but aimed only to defend its strategic interests, the United States and Great-Britain fanned anti-Soviet sentiment in the Nordic Countries to round them up in NATO. One can only say that this interpretation flies right in the face of most scholarship on these issues. So there is room for debate here, but in the scholarly silence surrounding Nordic issues in France, it just hasn’t been properly spelled out yet.

For a good introduction to Scandinavian strategic developments between 1944 and 1951, see:

Karl Molin and Thorsten B. Olesen, Security Policy and Domestic Politics in Scandinavia 1948-49, in Thorsten B. Olesen (ed.), Interdependence versus integration, Denmark, Scandinavia and Western Europe 1945-1960

The special issue of the Scandinavian Journal of History is Volume 37, Issue 2, 2012.

Lacroix-Riz’ articles are listed on her online CV. The first one dealing with Scandinavia circa 1943-1950 was:

«L’entrée de la Scandinavie dans le Pacte atlantique (1943-1949): une indispensable “révision déchirante”», Guerres mondiales et conflits contemporains No. 149 (Janvier 1988), pp. 55-92.

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