The year 1999 was marked by a spate of Nazi terrorist activity against establishment targets. This perceptual change of the enemy from the usual immigrant and anti-racist ones was reflected in Nazi propaganda. The White Power music producer Ragnarock Records, together with its partner Blood & Honour/Scandinavia, was increasingly active in 1999. While the level of anti-Semitism in Sweden remained unchanged in 1999, a dramatic increase in anti-Semitic propaganda was recorded in the 1990s, with anti-Semitism becoming a central theme in extreme right ideology. The most serious anti-Semitic incident was the stalking and assault of a music conductor.
THE JEWISH COMMUNITY
Sweden has a Jewish population of about 16,000 out of a general population of 8.9 million. The majority, approximately 10,000, belong to the major communities in Stockholm, Göteburg and Malmö. Smaller Jewish communities can be found in Boras, Uppsala, Norrköping and Helsingborg. The various communities are independent, but linked through the Council of Swedish Jewish Communities.
Several major international Jewish organizations have affiliates in Sweden. The Stockholm-based Jewish Chronicle, appears bi-monthly, as well as Tachless, a newsletter of the Jewish congregation. Shechita (ritual slaughter) is prohibited and kosher meat is imported from abroad.
POLITICAL PARTIES AND EXTRA-PARLIAMENTARY GROUPS
The Swedish extreme right, including both Nazis and populists, has been steadily growing in strength and today forms a vocal fringe. Swedish security experts estimate that there are about 1,500 activists and several thousand sympathizers.
Following its success in the 1998 national election, when it won 20,000 votes and became the third largest extra-parliamentary party,< the xenophobic Sverigedemokraterna (Sweden Democrats -- SD), led by Mikael Jansson, had hoped to do as well, if not better, in the 1999 election to the European Parliament. However, like other parties it suffered from the low voter turnout (38 percent) and won only 10,000 votes.
While the SD, successor to the racist campaign group “Keep Sweden Swedish” of the 1980s, is not a Nazi organization, many in the party leadership, as well as among the rank and file, were previously or are currently active in neo-Nazi groups. Its political platform calls for the repatriation of immigrants and the institution of the death penalty for serious criminal offenses. The party vocally opposes Swedish membership in the European Union, and also calls for Sweden leaving the UN.
The party’s relations with the European extreme right in 1999 were troubled. Following the Le Pen-Mégret split in the French FN (see France), the SD was unable, or unwilling, to choose sides. At the same time, exposure of its relations with Le Pen (see ASW 1998/9), as well as with other Euronat parties, became an embarrassing factor to the party domestically. The SD made a number of attempts to distance itself from several Euronat parties until, in the summer of 1999, it left Euronat altogether and made international relations the task of its youth organization, the SDU. The SDU, in turn, announced that it was withdrawing from active membership of Euronat and would remain only as an observer. SD began looking for other international allies and attached itself to a visible pro-Haider alliance in autumn 1999. Following the FPÖ’s election success (see Austria), support for Haider has become a cornerstone of SD propaganda.
Neither Ny Demokrati (New Democracy -- NyD), once led by the millionaire Count Ian Wachtmeister and record producer Bert Karlsson, nor Det Nya Partiet (The New Party – DNP), formed by Wachtmeister after his split from the NyD in 1994, has recovered from its election failure in 1998. The former may be considered defunct, while the latter lingered on in 1999 as a relatively inactive Internet homepage.
Formed in 1997, Skanes Väl (Scania’s Welfare – SV) is an alliance made up of a number of small local parties and groups in the southernmost region of Sweden (see ASW 1998/9). In the last decade, local populism, including strong anti-immigrant feeling, has made substantial progress, particularly in Scania. Drawing on dissatisfaction with the established parties which are often described as “corrupt and treacherous,” some of the parties in the alliance have been very successful and won a number of local seats in recent elections. In the 1998 election the SV alliance won 47 mandates in local assemblies, and four seats in the regional Scania parliament, where it holds the balance of power between conservatives and socialists.
Sweden is one of the largest producers of Nazi music. After gaining the upper hand in the ongoing feud within the White Power music industry, Ragnarock Records, together with its partner Blood & Honour/Scandinavia (B&H), was increasingly active in 1999. Ragnarock Records, which is associated with the British terrorist group C18, is based in Helsingborg and is run by the former Norwegian Nazi leader Erik Blücher, aka Erik Nilsen. Blücher is closely aligned with the Danish Nazi video production company NS88, operated by the German-born neo-Nazi Marcel Schilf. Blücher and Schilf jointly manage Blood & Honour/Scandinavia.< In 1999 C18 formally moved its activities from Britain to a post box address in Denmark in Schilf’s name. Ragnarock/B&H have thus became the center of C18’s international operations. B&H has been playing a key role in the attempts to launch a joint pan-Scandinavian network of Nazi organizations, to include B&H, the Swedish National Socialist Front, the Norwegian National Socialist Movement and the Danish National Socialist Movement.
Nordland, whose inspiration comes from the imprisoned US murderer David Lane and the defunct terrorist organization The Order, was the principal loser to Ragnarock in the White Power music feud. Led by Peter Melander, Nordland continues to disseminate White Power propaganda and to publish its professional and costly color magazine of the same name.
Although Sweden has clear legislation against incitement of racial hatred, the number of charges and convictions over the years have been few compared to the number of actual offenses. The absence of convictions can be attributed in large part to the judicial system, including a paucity of knowledge on the part of prosecutors of extreme right politics and the White Power scene.
A major case involving personalities in the White Power music industry began with a conviction in 1998 and ended in an appeals court in 1999. Erik Blücher and two of his associates had been sentenced to three months in prison for racial hatred and distribution of White Power records. On appeal, Blücher was found guilty, but his sentence was reduced to fines, since the offense was of a “once-only nature” and there was no reason to believe it would be repeated.
No sooner had Blücher, a 30-year neo-Nazi veteran, left the appeal court when he was charged with incitement of racial hatred, this time with his two closest associates, Marcel Schilf and Himmler (originally Hans) Pettersson. As of March 2000, the trial was still in progress, but according to local reporters in Helsingborg, the prosecution was again showing a lack of detailed knowledge about the White Power industry and its potential dangers.
The Nationalsocialistisk Front (National Socialist Front -- NSF), for many years the fastest-growing neo-Nazi organization in Sweden, was badly tainted by its association with the double police homicide at Malexander (see below), and the party has gone through a series of internal re-shuffles. Once closely associated with Blücher and the B&H, NSF distanced itself somewhat in 1999, for pragmatic rather then political reasons – personality clashes and the fear that Blücher might take over the movement.
In December Anders Högström, NSF’s charismatic party leader, suddenly resigned from his post. He was replaced by a troika consisting of Högström’s old friend Anders Ärleskog, hardcore anti-Semite Björn Björkqvist and Blücher’s partner Himmler Pettersson.
Attention in 1999 also focused on Svenska Motstandsrörelsen/NationeUngdom (Swedish Resistance/National Youth – SM/NU) in Stockholm. Swedish Resistance was formed in 1997 as a loose umbrella organization for the splintered Stockholm Nazi milieu. Among the founders was former White Aryan Resistance (VAM) activist Klas Lund, who had previous sentences for murder and bank robberies. National Youth was originally launched with the purpose of functioning as a “patriotic” but not obviously Nazi front organization. The cover was almost immediately blown and NU has become the leading Nazi organization in the greater Stockholm area.
SR/NU is closely aligned with the so called Anti-Afa, a secretive organization which has taken upon itself the role of an “intelligence apparatus” in the Nazi world. Anti-Afa, led by Robert Vesterlund, among others, identifies “anti-nationalist enemies” -- journalists, police officers, politicians and anti-racists. Anti-Afa issues the magazine INFO-14, which glorified the Malexander homicides as “just vengeance and self-defense," and published the names and pictures of police officers investigating Nazi violence.
The year 1999 was marked by a spate of Nazi terrorist activity which targeted journalists, police officers, trade unionists and local politicians. This perceptual change of the enemy from the usual immigrant, anti-racist or gay communities to the establishment, was reflected in Nazi propaganda.
In late May 1999, two police officers were executed with their own pistols, after being outgunned in a battle with three Nazi bank robbers, outside the small village of Malexander, south of Stockholm. The killers were identified as Tony Olsson, previously sentenced for his part in an attempted contract killing; Jackie Arklov, a convicted war criminal from the war in Bosnia; and Andreas Axelsson, a Nazi intellectual and editor of the magazine Stormpress. Olsson is a former associate of the now defunct Nazi Reich Front, while Axelsson is a ranking member of the NSF. Arklov, the son of a Euro-African couple and adopted by a Swedish family, became a NSF activist in spite of his mixed racial heritage. All three were sentenced to life imprisonment.
By the end of 1999, police investigations into the attempted murder of the journalist husband and wife team Peter Karlsson and Karina Larsson in June, were focusing on a group of activists associated with the Stockholm Anti-AFA and National Youth organization. Over the years, the couple had devoted themselves to exposing the activities of the White Power music industry, badly damaging it in the process. Karlsson and his son were seriously injured in the attack.
Two days later, a car bomb injured two police officers in Malmö. The investigation focused on a group of Hell’s Angels with some extreme right connections, but as of March 2000 the case remained unsolved. It should be noted, however, that the attack took place one week after the B&H had promised vengeance on the police following a raid on one of its safehouses in Langeland, Denmark (see Denmark).
A trade unionist Björn Soderberg, was murdered in October after he had exposed Nazi infiltration in the trade union at his work place. Three neo-Nazis were arrested as prime suspects, including Hampus Hellekant, a key Anti-Afa activist. A search of Hellekant’s apartment revealed that the group had been actively monitoring Soderberg and others considered “enemies of the nationalist movement.” A list of targets included anti-racists and journalists, among them associates of the anti-fascist Expo magazine.
Shortly after the Soderberg assassination, a gun shot was fired through the living room window of a veteran anti-racist campaigner and well-known spokesman of the Kurdish immigrant community. Apparently, the shot was meant to scare and intimidate Kurdo Baksi, publisher of the multi-cultural and anti-racist magazines Blackwhite and Expo, which have now merged.
The level of anti-Semitism in 1999 remained constant compared with previous year and few incidents were recorded.
Violence and Vandalism
There was one serious violent anti-Semitic attack recorded in 1999. A well-known music conductor, Ilja Stupel, the only Jew in the small town of Vellinge in the Scania district, was brutally kicked and beaten in front of his 13-year-old daughter. The attack on Stupel, carried out by local Nazis and NSF associates, was the culmination of a harassment campaign that had been going on for several years. The campaign included gatherings and routine chanting of anti-Semitic slurs outside Stupel’s house, as well as bomb threats. Stupel claims that the local police had mostly ignored his numerous complaints. In addition, there were a few incidents of vandalism and graffiti and several of verbal threats to Jewish institutions and private addresses.
In recent years, anti-Semitism, principally anti-Jewish conspiracy theories, has become a central ideological theme of militant Nazi groups. Moreover, some of the anti-Jewish rhetoric has been spilling over from the Nazi scene to some anti-immigrant and academic right-wing groups, appearing in publications such as Fri Information and Blågula Frågor.
The NSF, through its propaganda chief Björn Björkqvist, continues to lead much of the ideological anti-Semitic rhetoric. Nordland and Ragnarock disseminate anti-Semitism through White Power CD records, videos and various publications. Ragnarock/B&H stepped up their anti-Jewish and anti-ZOG propaganda in 1999. Following the above-mentioned police raid on the B&H safehouse in Langeland, B&H published a statement on its Internet homepage denouncing “the pigs in blue and the red scum.” B&H claimed that the “ZOG [Zionist Occupational Government] police” and the “anti-racist anarchist movement” were working together to smash the nationalist movement. The statement also claimed that B&H had taken photographs of a police officer who would later be dealt “Aryan justice.”
Ahmed Rami remains the principal purveyor of Holocaust denial, through his Radio Islam and, in recent years, mainly through his Internet site of the same name. In 1999 the Radio Islam homepage launched a lengthy attack on Stéphane Bruchfeld, co-author of the government-sponsored book on the Holocaust, Tell Ye Your Children… (see below).
Salt, an up-market radical-conservative magazine launched in 1999, could become the main propaganda vehicle of the extreme right in the next years. During the January 2000 Stockholm International Forum on the Holocaust, it claimed the Holocaust had become “an official state religion.” It added that the memory of the Holocaust was being kept alive for economic reasons, since it forced the European countries to pay large amounts of money to the State of Israel.
The homepages of the Internet-based Pro Patria and the Nazi mystic Swedish Heathen Front feature anti-Semitic content and jokes.
RESPONSES TO RACISM AND ANTI-SEMITISM
In 1999 it was decided that the government-sponsored “Living History” project would become a permanent institution. The project, which is designed to combat anti-Semitism and Nazi revisionism of the Holocaust, operates with the active involvement of the Swedish Committee Against Anti-Semitism (SCAA). The book Tell Ye Your Children... has been the focal point of school education and study groups. The Stockholm International Forum on the Holocaust was in part an outcome of the Living History project and much official activity in 1999 was centered on preparations for this event (see General Analysis).
The SCAA continued to arrange lectures on anti-Semitism, Holocaust denial, neo-Nazism and White Power music throughout the country, mostly for teachers and school personnel. It cooperated for a second successive year with the Stockholm school authorities and the University of Uppsala, in giving an in-service training course on the Holocaust for high school teachers, including a study tour to Poland. Study trips to former concentration and death camps have in general become more frequent in Sweden, and are part of a new strategy to combat racism and anti-Semitism. Also, the Association of Holocaust Survivors, established in 1992, continued their frequent vto schools throughout the country.
Nazi activities in 1999 were countered by a number of public events. Following the Soderberg assassination, the left-wing Syndicalist Union joined forces with the main trade union council (Landsorganisationen) for the first time in several decades. As a result, large anti-fascist trade union rallies were held in a number of cities.
For the fifth year running, the Network Against Racism commemorated Kristallnacht in several cities. While Network rallies often becomes a forum for left-wing opinions, politics this year were set aside in the wake of the Soderberg assassination, and many individuals not usually seen at street rallies participated.
In the media sphere, on 30 November the four largest papers in Sweden – Aftonbladet, Expressen, Svenska Dagbladet and Dagens Nyheter – jointly published a series of articles warning of the threat to democracy. They exposed more then 60 leading hardcore Nazi activists with names and pictures. Special extra editions of the papers were distributed free in schools and classes. The action received warm support from readers and anti-racists, although critics claimed it was “a breach of the ethical guidelines of the media.”