>Hard to judge Hägg and Andersson in that Sweden
>was the only major practioner of track--no?--that
>didn't have the fruit of its manhood (see Rufolf
>Harbig) off getting chopped up in WWII. (That, my
>being a pacifist, not a slam at all.)
>knows what the "real" WRs might have been had
>the Americans and the rest of Europe not been
>busy killing each other.
Although times only mean so much, Andersson was the world leader in 1939, a few months before the war really began. He was already one of the world's top milers before his competiton was distraction by death and destruction. Hagg, of course, mostly got the better of Andersson. So it's hard to get a real idea of how the war affected Hagg and Andersson -- they still had each other to compete against, even if there wasn't much else.
In 1942, 5 of the top 10 on the combined 1500/mile list were Swedes. In 1943, it was 6 out of 10, in 1944 8 out of 10, in 1945 8 out of 10 again. While South America also continued to compete unaffected by the war, only Sweden had much impact at the highest levels of distance running. (Some Finns continued to race, but mostly in Sweden.) The USA, however, continued to dominate the sprints, hurdles, jumps and throws, just not as much as before and after the war.