During World War II, about 200 Swedes joined Hitler’s troops and fought for Nazi Germany. Those alive still receive war pensions from the German state.
In total, there are 15 recipients of the so-called “Hitler pension” in Sweden, the newspaper Dagens Nyheter reported.
The recipients are aged between 82 and 101 years. Six of those are Swedish citizens and three of them are widows of Nazi war veterans, who inherited the pension when their husbands passed away. Dagens Nyheter described the payments as “some sort of a annuity”.
In Germany, the northernmost state of Schleswig-Holstein is responsible for the pension payments to Sweden. The size of the pension varies from SEK 1,500 ($160) to SEK 10,000 ($1,060) per month.
During World War II, about 200 Swedes volunteered for Nazi Germany’s armed forces and fought for Adolf Hitler. They were promised pensions on equal terms with German soldiers.
The German Ministry of Social Affairs and Labour have described the pensions as a “compensation to people who have incurred wounds and injuries”, not for their belonging to the Wehrmacht (Nazi Germany’s Armed Forces) or the Waffen-SS (the armed wing of the Nazi Party).
According to Dagens Nyheter, however, at least two of the recipients are former Waffen-SS members. Whether they took part in the Third Reich’s atrocities remains unclear.
The 15 Swedes belong to the roughly 2,000 individuals worldwide who still receive payments from Germany under a 1951 law that provides for “war victims”, including those who collaborated with the Nazi regime. According to the German Labour Ministry, 2,033 people benefited from such payments in February.
Most of the beneficiaries live in Europe, with the highest number in Poland, where 573 are still receiving payments. Other European countries with significant numbers of beneficiaries include Austria with 101, Slovenia with 184 and Croatia with 71. Across the Atlantic, 250 beneficiaries live in the US, while 121 are in Canada.
The pension payments came under renewed scrutiny when Belgian lawmakers last month demanded a halt of the payments to the remaining Belgian residents still receiving compensation.