The Army Museum, in a nation famed for its Neutrality
October 1, 2019
The Army Museum, Stockholm
The Army Museum is well worth a visit for the insights it offers into Swedish history.
It’s one of over a dozen museums in Stockholm that offer free admission.
Walking towards the museum, there’s a separate entrance at the side, with a sign to ‘Artilleriet’ and a menu. I decided to investigate.
This is no ordinary museum cafeteria; it’s a handsomely appointed restaurant where you can enjoy lunch, dinner, or a cocktail at the bar.
A glass of Cava on the sunny terrace is a reasonable 60 kronor, or about £5.50. (That’s SEK 300 a bottle – the rate of exchange can be intimidating!)
It’s worth noting that like many establishments in Stockholm, Artilleriet is ‘cash free’.
Not to be distracted by temptation, I continued to the main entrance of the museum.
Once inside, courteous staff greet you; they will direct you to a locker if you need one.
I was impressed by the variety of shapes and sizes available. The tall ones are equipped with a hanger for a raincoat (or perhaps a dress uniform).
It’s also notable that, like the museum, they’re free.
It may seem strange to recommend a museum devoted to the military exploits of a neutral country that sat out two world wars. It’s worth remembering that the Swedish armies of the 17th and 18th centuries were notorious for their rapacious brutality, mostly inflicted on Poland and Russia.
The museum displays start with trophies of war and among the conventional glass cases that follow are some fairly gruesome full size tableaux depicting warfare and the privations of army life.
By the 20th century, Sweden was neutral
The fearsome reputation of Swedish soldiery faded as they started to lose battles, and by the 19th century the army was largely deployed to work on civil engineering projects.
In the 2nd World War, Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg was despatched to occupied Hungary, where he helped save the lives of tens of thousands of Hungarian jews. He was arrested by the Russians in 1945, and detained by SMERSH on suspicion of espionage. The KGB reported his death in 1947, in the Lubyanka prison in Moscow. The circumstances of his detention and death remain mysterious.
Coming face to face with the past
In the 20th century gallery, you reach exhibits devoted to Sweden’s part in the Cold War, and their fear of being located between the two super-powers.
But before you reach modern times, you’ll come face to face with these three ‘gentlemen’, galloping out of the 18th century, straight at you.