📝 From my Inner Depository Archive March 8, 2000. Updated Aug. 24, 2012.
Between the years 1998 to 2002 I had a website called “Jonathan’s website on Racism/Hate Hurts.” It was in the infancy of Internet long before blogs, YouTube, Twitter and Facebook. My intentions back then was to be a resource for schools and other interested in topics concerning human rights, discrimination, racism, bullying and anti-homosexual tendencies among others. Many schools and interested people contacted me during these years, even people representing a darker side of our society. I was also under death threat.
“The Holocaust was not an accident in history. It happened because people wanted it to happen.” So began the initiator, Prime minister Göran Persson, the Stockholm International Forum on the Holocaust, which opened on Wednesday, 26 January 2000. The Conference, which lasted for three days, is a direct consequence of “Living History,” a national information campaign, also initiated by the Prime Minister.
According to a SIFO survey, the Swedes’ knowledge of the Holocaust – Shoah is very good compared to many European countries. Despite this, Sweden is the world’s largest producer of racistic White Power-music (White Aryan Resistance) and books! While the Holocaust Conference took place in Stockholm, a trial started with three young men involved in the dissemination/spreading of music and videos with Nazistic content. In addition, Nazism is increasing in our secondary schools, according to a survey Swedish Radio has done.
The Conference, which is unique of its kind, brought together about 700 government ministers and ambassadors from 47 countries. The Conference dealt with topics such as the persecution and murder of Jews and other victims during World War II. Everything began in the summer of 1997, when Prime minister Göran Persson in a political debate, initiated a massive information campaign about the Holocaust; “Levande Historia,” “Living history.” The purpose was to inform Swedes about the Nazi genocide of six million Jews and hundreds of thousands of Romani people (formerly called by the offensive term “gypsies,”) Communists, homosexuals, disabled and other dissidents during World War II. Read more at Levande Historia.
Free booklet to households
With “Living History” the Government wanted to discuss “questions of humanity, democracy and all human beings equal value,” as expressed in the booklet; “…Om detta må ni berätta” (“Tell ye your children…” ) the Swedish Government has produced and distributed free of charge to all households in Sweden. The book, that is available in several languages, may perhaps be a bit cautious in its design and language, but the information has reached out to us. To some degree like the national motto by the National Board of Health and Welfare, that we once were prompted to eat between six to eight slices of bread a day. A little of that Swedish mentality, but without pointers this time.
Elie Wiesel launched Forum on the Holocaust
The Nobel Price Laureate and author Elie Wiesel launched the Conference on Wednesday afternoon to say that it is first and foremost three areas the Conference will explore;
– “Why should we remember? Who should we remember? And how will we remember them?”
Wiesel also came with sharp criticism to Western countries who did not act even if they knew what happened to the Jews. Why did not Sweden opened up their borders to the Jews, he also asked.
Wiesel says that there is a lot of information now about the fate of the Jews during the war. But he wonders how to turn this information into knowledge and knowledge into understanding and understanding into compassion. He ended his speech with a direct appeal to Prime minister Göran Persson that this Conference must continue to recur every year: “A wonderful proposal, I support it,” Persson said and promised that he would begin collaborate with Wiesel for this purpose. The decision was met with applause from the Conference participants. During these days in Stockholm, Conference attendees discussed ways to collaborate on this subject in the future.
The Swedes are well informed about the Holocaust – Extermination
On behalf of the American Jewish Committée, the SIFO survey in mid-december 1999 on Swedes’ knowledge about the Holocaust, thousands of Swedes received a questionnaire and had the opportunity to tell what they thought and felt about the pogroms of Jews. 88 percent of the respondents of the surveyed knew about Auschwitz, Dachau and Treblinka. 9 percent did not know, and 3 percent had other answers. When asked how many Jews who were killed by the Nazis 49 percent responded six million. 82 percent of those surveyed knew how the Jewish symbol looked like that the Jews were forced to wear visible on their clothes (a yellow star,) and 96 percent of the surveyed were confident that the extermination of Jews had taken place.
On the other hand, 72 percent of those surveyed did not know the meaning of the word “Holocaust” (extermination and murder.) But that is because we do not use that term in Sweden. We simply call it “extermination.” For this reason I do not use the word “Holocaust” in my articles. I believe the word “Holocaust” is more a euphemism for what it really is about. I call it by its proper name: Shoah or Extermination!
Police seized White Power music
During the Holocaust Conference, a trial was initiated in which three Nazis stood accused of spreading CDs and other products with Nazi messages. The first part of the trial focused on the question if the men were committed to spreading or not. The men came up with imaginary excuses and said they just helped someone to wear a few packages. If it can be proved that they have spread Nazi materials, only then they can be prosecuted on that point and a trial on Hate Speech can begin. First you need to find the responsible Publisher and producer of the music. The Police have confiscated 15 CDs and 64 videos, but only a portion of the material is indictable evidence. There are about 30 White-Power groups in Sweden today. Sweden is considered to be the country that produces and distributes most Nazi music in the world.
Follow-up on Law on Hate Speech
Since the above article was written, the Helsingborg District Court acquitted the three suspicious men (March 8, 2000.) To have the music convicted of Hate Speech, you must track down the music before the limitation period has expired which occurs after one year. After that you cannot access the music. The crime is by then considered as a cold case. There has also been considerable difficulty in tracing the Publisher and the production year. The Chancellor of Justice has repeatedly tried to get the music condemned as illegal and thinks that the law of the limitation period should be changed.
“The period within which the public prosecution shall be instituted for Hate Speech is for radio shows six months after the programme was aired. The period for films and audio recordings the time period is one year from when the recordings were distributed.” (Excerpt from the Law on Hate Speech.)
According to some tabloids, witnesses have proved that the music could have been prosecuted because the limitation period had not yet expired. However, the men have already been released and we hope for a rapid constitutional amendment.
Every other school has problems with racism
Swedish Radio sent out a questionnaire to 150 secondary schools at the end of november 1999. Of the 101 responses that came back to the radio station, it turned out that 52 schools have problems with racism! 17 schools had no problem but there were signs of racism and 32 schools had no problems and no signs of racism. Swedish Radio, which published the findings on its website, also mention that schools over the past two years have had problems with Nazi graffiti and spreading of racistic messages but also said that threats and violence have been made against teachers and students with racist undertones. In almost all schools, students are using racist taunts.
Update Aug. 24, 2012 – Living History Forum
Three and a half years after the Stockholm International Forum on the Holocaust, “Living History Forum” (Forum För Levande Historia) was founded. The authority was set up following a series of decisions by the Swedish Parliament. The initiative for the Living History Forum was taken by Prime minister Göran Persson in 1997. In 2000, the Government appointed a Committee to investigate how this activity could be made permanent. In december 2001 the decision was made that a new body would be set up. In 2001-2002, the Committee for living history prepared for the establishment of the authority. On June 1, 2003, the authority was officially formed.
The Living History Forum is a Swedish public authority which, using the Holocaust and other crimes against humanity as a starting point, works with issues on tolerance, democracy and human rights. This “institution” is now located in Gamla Stan (Stockholm Old Town) and serves also as an information base for interested visitors, where they show exhibits and films, selling books and more. It is well worth a visit if you come to Stockholm. Welcome!
© 2012 Jonathan Axelsson
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