Killing the Count – Part 1 The White Buses
Al Jazeera (2014)
Killing the Count is a two-part documentary about the 1949 assassination of UN mediator Foulke Bernodotte. Part 1 covers Swedish baron Bernodotte’s daring rescue of 30,000 concentration camp victims during the final year of World War II. Of the 30,000, 10,000 were Jews and 20,000 were Scandinavian resistance fighters arrested following the Nazi occupation of Norway and Denmark.
On learning of Hitler’s order to exterminate all concentration camp prisoners when it became clear Germany would lose the war, Bernadotte used his friendship with Himler’s personal physician to arrange a meeting with the SS leader responsible for running the camps.
Bernadotte, an exceedingly shrewd negotiator, persuaded Himler to allow the Swedish Red Cross to move Scandinavian prisoners from Germany’s interior to Neuengame, a concentration camp close to the Danish Border.
The Swedish Red Cross had a detailed list of all the Scandinavian prisoners detained in German camps. In part owing to Sweden’s strong Nazi leanings,* their Red Cross had been to deliver food parcels provided they were personally addressed to individual prisoners.
By the time Bernadotte successfully organized a convoy of buses to transport 10,000 Scandinavian prisoners to Neungame, Allied troops had crossed the German border and most SS members had deserted. Because there were no Nazis to stop him, Bernadotte now used his buses to evacuate the Scandinavian prisoners and as many Jewish prisoners as he could rescue from Neungame and the women’s and children’s concentration camp Ravensbrook. He was subsequently honored by a number of Jewish organizations for his effort.
In 1948 the UN Security Council would him to negotiate a settlement in the Jewish-Palestinian war in Palestine.
*Although technically a “neutral” country, the Swedish monarch provided the Third Reich with iron exports critical for their armaments industry, as well as allowing Hitler’s Navy to cross their territorial waters and his bombers to cross their air space.