As the Australian Government – in the form of Prime Minister Julia Gillard, Attorney-General Nicola Roxon and Foreign Minister Bob Carr – is cooperating in the extradition of Australian citizen Julian Assange to Sweden, I thought it was time to put the spotlight on the plucky Scandinavian kingdom.
Most Australians regard Sweden as a shining example of modern social democracy, social justice and humanitarianism. This is mythology sustained by the hoopla surrounding the Nobel Peace Prize, Raoul Wallenberg, Abba and Bjorn Borg.
There’s nothing like some historical facts to establish a proper perspective on Sweden and its current quest to extradite Assange from the UK and then facilitate his rendition to the US.
Pro-Nazi war record
At the outbreak of the Second World War Sweden declared its neutrality. Other countries, viz Czechoslovakia, Poland, Holland and Belgium, didn’t have a choice: they were overrun and occupied by the Nazis.
The concept of neutrality towards Nazism is an immoral disgrace. No nation and no people can be neutral towards Nazism, then or now.
The Swedish Social Democrats (equivalent of the ALP) led the national government that upheld the neutral line on Hitler’s Third Reich for the duration of the war.
The reality was that Sweden’s ‘neutrality’ meant working cooperatively with Berlin. Under Social Democrat Prime Minister Per Albin Hansson, German troops and armaments were permitted to pass through Sweden to fight the Russian army (which was on our side) in Hitler’s Operation Barbarossa.
Sweden continued to supply steel and machinery parts to Germany throughout the war and 10 million tonnes of iron ore was shipped from Sweden to the Nazi weapons industry.
Left-wing Swedish newspapers were closed on the insistence of the Nazis and Swedish volunteers joined the Waffen SS to fight on the Russian front.
Betrayal of Norway
While Sweden stayed neutral in the war, neighbouring Norway was among Hitler’s first conquests. Norwegians have always suspected that the Swedish government played a treacherous role in their wartime ordeal. A newly published book, Blodsporet or The Blood Track, by journalist Espen Eidum shows how Sweden allowed the German army to use its efficient rail network to transport men and materials to the battle of Narvik, where British troops were deployed in a bid to stave off the Nazis.
Eidum spent three years sifting through Norwegian, Swedish and German archives to discover how the Nazis managed to get troops and supplies to the front lines in Narvik in 1940, enabling them to turn a losing battle into a decisive victory, which led to the occupation of the whole country.
According to the book, trains carried heavy artillery, anti-aircraft guns, ammunition, and communications and supply equipment. And once the swastika flew over Narvik, Sweden allowed German trains to run to the ice-free port, taking Swedish iron ore back to Germany.
The rail network was also used to send Norwegians to Germany, many of them bound for concentration camps. Eidum writes, ‘And hundreds of thousands of Germans passed through Sweden on their way to the eastern front. This made a great deal of money for Swedish rail operator SJ over a three-year period.’
Indeed, by the end of the war, Sweden was one of the richest countries in Europe because of its trade with Nazi Germany. Every deal was negotiated in cash.
In his wartime reflections, Winston Churchill accused Sweden of ignoring the greater moral issues and playing both sides for profit.
In Scandinavia, the treachery and moral cowardice of the Swedish upper class and the social democrats has never been forgotten nor forgiven.
In a 1940 letter to Anders Frihagen, his envoy in Stockholm, Norway’s prime minister, Johan Nygaardsvold, asked him to convey his anger to the duplicitous Swedish prime minister:
If you can arrange a private conversation with Per Albin Hansson, tell him there are two things I want to experience, and those are: that the Germans get hunted out of Norway and, secondly, that I get to live long enough to give him and his entire government a proper dressing down.
There is nothing, nothing, nothing I hate with such passion and wild abandon as Sweden – and it is his fault.
Sweden’s far right
The late Stieg Larsson (1954–2004), author and journalist, spent his career exposing Sweden’s corrupt and degenerate state and the far right. He concluded there were more Nazis, neo-Nazis, white supremacists, gun nuts, skinheads, Islamaphobes and anti-Semites per head of population in Sweden than anywhere in western Europe.
The author of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo trilogy argued that the far right used its tiny but noisy political influence to pressure the major parliamentary parties into passing authoritarian legislation and that it enjoyed protection from the state.
He also ridiculed the media presentation of race hate crimes as the actions of ‘one-off madmen’ when they represent the actions, directly or indirectly, of organised Nazi terrorist groups.
This week in the Swedish city of Malmo, Peter Mangs was convicted of two counts of murder and four of attempted murder during a wave of sniper attacks targeting immigrants.
Before his sentencing in September, the court has ordered a psychiatric evaluation to decide whether he is insane or not.
If the great Stieg Larrson were alive today there is no doubt he would be actively campaigning in support of the WikiLeaks founder and exposing his country’s depraved and corrupt judicial system.