Book Review
Escape from the Third Reich
Escape from the Third Reich - Folke Bernadotte and the White Buses
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by: Fay Baker [ AWESOME_ODP ]


World War II was full of turmoil, violence, confusion and appalling conditions for those who were incarcerated in the various concentration camps run by the Germans. As the war drew to an end Hitler (as rumour has it) issued orders that the inmates of these camps were to be liquidated. This led to an unusual mission, where the leader of this expedition (Count Folke Bernadotte) had to negotiate with the SS, Gestapo and Heinrich Himmler, if this had not happened the Allies may well have found more bodies when they liberated the camps.

The following is taken from the Pen and Sword website:
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 soft backed book is written by Sune Persson (with a forward by Brian Urquhart), contains 274 pages with a black and white photographic section in the middle. First published in 2002, this publication is the first english language version of this story and retails at £16.99 in bookshops and on the Pen ansd Sword website.

The list of contents are as follows:
List of abbreviations
List of illustrations
1 The Rescue
2 The Realm of Death: Hitler’s Germany
3 The Jews and the Holocaust
4 Norway Under German Occupation
5 The Danish People Under German Occupation
6 Sweden’s Balance Between Neutrality and Activism
7 Folke Bernadotte and the Swedish Relief Expedition
8 The White Buses: Neuengamme
9 The White Buses: Night and Fog
10 The White Buses: Theresienstadt
11 The White Buses: Ravenbruck
12 Operation Rescue Norway!
13 Final Days

This publication charts the story of Count Folke Bernadotte, the Dutch government and the Swedish Red Cross and their mission to release and transport prisoners from concentration camps and transport them to a neutral country. This perilous mission was undertaken with the SS and Gestapo watching the rescuers every movement. What the rescuers found at the camps was beyond comprehension, with many dead and others so malnourished that they were well on their way to being next.

As the war was coming to an end, the final few weeks were very chaotic in Europe and as a result of this it is impossible to put a number on how many prisoners were liberated, a conservative estimate is that 17,000 were saved and transported to Sweden.


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.
Fay Baker takes a look at a release from Pen and Sword titled 'Escape from the Third Reich - Folke Bernadotte and the White Buses'
  Scale: N/A
  Mfg. ID: ISBN 9781526760715
  Suggested Retail: £16.99
  PUBLISHED: Oct 29, 2019

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Copyright ©2021 text by Fay Baker [ AWESOME_ODP ]. All rights reserved.


Another critical episode in history that far too few know anything about. The last chaotic days are only revealing themselves now after all those decades.
OCT 30, 2019 - 09:27 AM