This quiet forest was once the home of thousands of refugees at the time of the Second World War. Originally it was intended as a shelter for inhabitants of the nearby city of Norrköping but grew into a temporary refugee camp the size of a small city. But just a few years later it would be gone, almost without a trace.
The Doverstorp camp was placed outside of the city of Norrköping because its harbor increased the risk of the city being bombed, potentially dragging Sweden into the war. Sweden, which remained officially neutral throughout the war, managed to stay out of the fighting. So instead of serving as an evacuation site, Doverstorp was used for refugees. The first wave of refugees was made up of Estonian Swedes fleeing from the Red Army’s advance in the Baltic States.
Later on, as the so-called “white buses” began to arrive from Europe with people who had been held in concentration camps and ghettos, the population shifted. By the end of 1945, Polish women formed the majority of the population at Doverstorp. Many were emaciated and ill after experiencing the horrors of life in Nazi concentration camps. Sadly, the freed prisoners found themselves behind barbed wire fences in Doverstorp, which had been turned into a quarantine camp to prevent any further spread of disease. Emergency hospitals were set up in Norrköping to manage the treatment of tuberculosis, typhoid, and other health issues.
After the war, most people who stayed in Doverstorp returned to their homelands but some, especially among the Polish women, decided to settle in the nearby town of Finspång.
The camp was dismantled starting in 1946. Very few traces are left of what once was Sweden’s largest refugee camp. Over 8,000 people once lived here, but only a few foundations, water faucets, and shelters remain today to remind us of history.
Know Before You Go
Doverstorp Refugee Camp can be found outside of Finspång in Sweden. The easiest way to get there is by car.