Having watched a lot (that is, at all) of tv lately has got me thinking of WWII. First, yesterday there was on the regional news about a movie premiere of a documentary of the kids that came to Malmö with the white buses. Some of the survivors were there, and even though a lot of them had moved away from Sweden they all seemed to have very fond memories. I mean, some of them travelled half way round the world to attend the premiere.
Secondly, today I watched a documentary about the occupation of Denmark. Very fascinating, interviews with people who were there mixed with old clips of the occupation, and so on.
Both of these things got me thinking about Swedens role in all this. As is perhaps known, Sweden was "neutral" during the war. Which means that we didn't pick sides, exactly, but we allowed the Germans to transport troops and weapons through Sweden and didn't try to help Norway and Denmark during the occupation. Well, some people did, obviously, but officially we were neutral. Ish. There was some breaking of the Haag convention. We also transported loads of iron to Germany.
The thing is, basically every other west European country has had to deal with the aftermath of WWII (and the easter European countries too, I'm sure, as well as other, but I don't know as much about them), but here in Sweden we just buried it. So, for instance, when it recently came to light that Ingvar Kamprad (founder of IKEA) used to belong to a nazi subgroup during the war. Now, if this had happened in, lets say Germany, it would have been brought to light way earlier, and it would have been dealt with. He would have had to own up to it and things would have been brought out in the light, and that would have been that. Now instead he insists that it was because he was young, but he's still said some highly questionable things which makes him seem a bit, well, murky. I mean, fair enough, he was young, 17, but I've been seventeen too, and I didn't turn into a nazi. Neither did most of the Swedish population who were teenagers during that time. The fact is, one gets the feeling that most people were against Germany, if only for the fact that they occupied countries.
We also haven't dealt with the fact that when our own people, Norway and Denmark became occupied we did nothing. We haven't dealt with the fact that yes, while a lot of people weren't nazis, some of them were. Some of them still are. We have loads of neo-nazis in Sweden, and I can't help but think that this has something to do with it.
Now, I'm not saying I don't understand the Swedish government during that time, because we were sandwiched between Soviet and Germany (or rather, their occupied territory), and declaring war would probably means loads of dead people. We were also almost attached a couple of times. Being neutral is perhaps less important than being alive. On the other hand, maybe taking a stand for something you believe in, like the fact that people shouldn't be slaughtered in death camps, is important too.
Sometimes, when things like this come up I think were a nation in need of psychotherapy.