Socialism Today - Sweden's Neo-Nazis
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Issue 45, September 1999

Sweden's Neo-Nazis

REPRESENTATIVES OF 45 countries, including Britain's New Labour government, the German Social Democrats, and Lionel Jospin's French Socialist Party, met in Stockholm at the end of January for a conference on the Nazi Holocaust. Almost 55 years since the end of the second world war, these politicians have created this opportunity for themselves to play the 'good guys', condemning racism and fascism. Unfortunately for them, they met in a country hosting Europe's most violent fascists.

In 1999, Sweden witnessed several brutal killings, including the deaths of two policemen executed with their own guns by three Nazi robbers and the premeditated murder of trade union activist, Björn Söderberg. On New Year's Eve, 19-year old Salih Uzel was killed by Nazis in a working-class suburb of Stockholm. A gang of Nazi youth attacked his brother's family and Salih and other Turks came to help. Salih was stabbed and then kicked while he was lying on the ground dying. Later, in the police cell, the murderer daubed a swastika on the wall with his own blood.

A Berlin newspaper reported in the autumn that German Nazis look to Sweden for guidance. Swedish Nazis have established a leading role in White Power music, releasing 342 CDs last year. They also have a computerised intelligence network covering all their 'enemies', including address lists, details of relatives, car registration numbers, etc. In June, journalist Peter Karlsson and his eleven-year-old son escaped near death from a car bomb. They were saved by the fact that they had not closed the car doors. The journalist was living undercover with a new identity after exposing Nazis in the army. He had also written articles on the White Power music industry which resulted in CD producers in Italy, Taiwan and the US ending their contracts with the Swedish Nazis.


The Nazi parties and networks are dangerous but relatively small - at most a couple of hundred organised members. They have attracted a couple of thousand people around them, consisting mainly of young White Power music followers. The fascist groups are constantly experiencing splits and crises. They are unable to establish a firm base because of the lack of support for their ideas and, just as importantly, the active resistance of anti-fascists, in which Rättvisepartiet Socialisterna (RS - Socialist Justice Party, the Swedish section of the Committee for a Workers' International) has played a key role.

In 1999, the establishment parties suddenly started condemning Nazi terrorism. They had spent the previous decade proclaiming that maybe the fascists were not really fascists at all and should, as a rule, be ignored. But the Left Party and Conservative Party leaders stood alongside each other at the big demonstration in Stockholm after the murder of Söderberg in October. For the first time, the LO (Swedish trade union federation) leader was forced to speak on an anti-fascist platform alongside other union leaders. In November, four daily newspapers published the photos and names of 60 leading Nazis.

All of the politicians, union leaders and media, however, avoid the key question: Why is fascism coming back? Leaders of the establishment want to hide the fact that the return of Nazism has taken place alongside the return of mass unemployment and the implementation of 'austerity packages' in the 1990s - policies dictated by the capitalist market. From 1991 to 1994, unemployment in Sweden exploded from 2% to 15%. Between 1994 and 1998 the state budget deficit was cut from 15% of GDP to less than 3%. This has created a new sense of uncertainty: 'Is this really Sweden?' The fascists try to exploit this feeling of insecurity.


While speaking against fascism, the politicians are deepening and developing pro-market and pro-EU policies, thereby continuing to feed the fascists and racists. The state itself is a leading racist force, treating refugees as criminals. On average, 10,000 refugees have been thrown out of Sweden every year in the last decade! This in a country renowned for its warm welcome, especially for the tens of thousands of Latin American refugees who came over in the 1970s. Combined with earlier migrations of workers, mainly from Finland, Turkey and Yugoslavia, the arrival of refugees in the 1970s and 1980s has meant that 20% of people living in Sweden now have a foreign background.

Last year, the Social Democratic prime minister, Göran Persson, launched a campaign to 'educate and inform' people about the Nazi Holocaust. But in the month leading up to his beloved international conference new scandals emerged. A new book and TV series showed that between 300 and 500 Swedes who volunteered for Hitler's Waffen SS have never been prosecuted. The Social Democratic-led coalition government during the second world war was officially neutral but was, in reality, extremely cooperative with Nazi Germany. Hundreds of Communists were put in camps, while pro-German newspapers were left untouched. Business with Germany flourished. Under pressure from the Simon Wiesentahl Centre in Israel, Persson has now promised an investigation. In German courts, Ukrainian workers who were used as slave labour during the war by the Swedish multinational, SKF, are suing for damages.


Workers and youth can't trust anything in the politicians' speeches against racism or fascism. Rättvisepartiet Socialisterna, and the Rättvisepartiet Socialisterna youth in the leadership of Elevkampanjen - the school students' campaign - are part of the movement which demonstrated outside the politicians' conference. We are campaigning for action against Nazi terror. This means school student strikes and pressure on the trade unions to organise a one-hour political strike and anti-fascist rallies, with the aim of establishing Nazi-free zones in schools and workplaces. We are demanding the restoration of the right of asylum and are fighting against deportations and the EU's barriers against refugees. And, alongside organising with anyone who wants to take action, we are stressing the need for an internationalist, socialist society, to really undermine fascism and racism.

Per-Åke Westerlund,
Rättvisepartiet Socialisterna

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