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A Day in the Life: Aryanization Before the Swedish Supreme Court 1941–42

Journal article
Authors Anna Wallerman
Published in Law and History Review
Volume 36
Issue 3
Pages pp. 593-617
ISSN 0738-2480
Publication year 2018
Published at Department of Law
Pages pp. 593-617
Language en
Keywords Nazism, International private law, Jewish refugees, Aryanization, Swedish Supreme Court
Subject categories Law (excluding Law and Society)


This article examines the jurisprudence of the Swedish Supreme Court during WW2 in disputes between exiled Jewish business owners and the Nazi-appointed administrators of their companies over the rights to the enterprises’ assets in Sweden. Contrary to assertions in previous scholarship, this article argues that the judgments of the Supreme Court were dictated neither by moral indignation in the face of the treatment of Jews in the Third Reich, nor by political considerations in a time of war. Instead, they were based on principles of private international law that predated, and outlived, the Third Reich. The outcome of the cases hinged upon whether the claim to Swedish assets arose before or after the date when the enterprise was placed under forced administration. If before, the claims of the Jewish owners were in principle successful; if after, they were not. This reasoning was well in line with both previous and subsequent case law on confiscations effected abroad. The article therefore concludes that the Swedish Supreme Court's judgments on Jewish assets in Sweden should be viewed not as outflows of extrajudicial considerations, but rather as failures to recognize political or ethical responsibility.

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