Swedish Government Resigns
Hjalmar Hammarskjöld (1862-1953), Swedish Prime Minister 1914-1917.
March 29 1917, Stockholm–Sweden had remained neutral during the war, but had been very friendly to Germany. Swedish diplomats helped Germany circumvent the cutting of Germany’s international telegraph lines. The Swedes had mined the Øresund to prevent British submarines from entering the Baltic. They were one of Germany’s last foreign trading partners, as the Baltic Sea was one of the few routes not closed by the British blockade. This had not gone unnoticed by the Allies, however, who from August 1916 had essentially included Sweden in the blockade of Germany until the Swedes could sufficiently guarantee that no goods exported to them would be re-exported to Germany.
This had severe consequences in the winter of 1917, which hit Sweden almost as hard as it hit the Central Powers. Food supplies dwindled, and prices skyrocketed. The Swedish foreign minister negotiated a deal with the British to allow more food to be imported, provided the Swedes reduced their exports to Germany. The Swedish Prime Minister, Hjalmar Hammarskjöld (father to UN Secretary General Dag), rejected the agreement. This caused a political crisis, and Hammarskjöld was forced to resign on March 29. This did not repair relations with Britain; an adequate trade agreement was not reached for over a year.