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Queen Silvia slammed for 'flawed' Nazi probe

Queen Silvia slammed for 'flawed' Nazi probe

Published: 20 Jan 2012 16:14 GMT+01:00
Updated: 20 Jan 2012 16:14 GMT+01:00

Sweden's Queen Silvia was reportedly "shattered" following an investigative journalism report criticizing the findings of a probe meant to clear the air regarding her father's Nazi connections.

After Queen Silvia posted an updated version of a 2010 investigation into her father's Nazi past on the Royal Court website on Monday, TV4 documentary series Kalla Fakta (The Cold Facts) on Wednesday slammed the Queen's probe, saying the investigation was flawed.

”We can show point by point that there are pure inaccuracies to the Queen's investigation. Everyone is responsible for writing history. Even Silvia,” said Johan Åsard of Kalla Fakta in a statement.

In the wake of the new TV4 report, staff close to the Royals told Aftonbladet that they are worried about the Queen's reactions to the latest developments, as she has reportedly suffered greatly from the whole affair.

That the Queen is taking the whole incident badly was also confirmed for the paper by Roger Lundgren, previous editor of Queen magazine and expert on the Swedish royal family.

”The Queen has told me that the worst part of it has been the feeling that TV4 has made her father sound as one of the biggest crooks in Germany,” Lundgren told Aftonbladet.

The Queen began her probe after a slew of reports had claimed that her father, Walther Sommerlath, who died in 1990, had joined the Nazi party in 1934.

In 2009, the TV4 series reported a widely rumoured story that, upon his return from Brazil as part of the so-called Aryanisation of Jewish assets in Germany in 1939, Sommerlath took over a factory which was owned by a Jew.

Silvia reacted angrily to the revelations in the documentary and replied with a private letter of complaint to Jan Scherman, who was general manager of the television channel at the time.

She denied her father was ever politically active or even in the military.

Sommerlath had also continued to deny membership in the Nazi Party up until his death.

In 2010, the Queen's own investigation showed that her father had conducted a business deal with a prominent Jewish businessman whereby he took over his company in Berlin in 1939 and so facilitated the man's emigration to Brazil from Nazi Germany.

"I have searched in the Brazilian and German archives and found that my father and Efim Wechsler made an agreement on the factory in Berlin and coffee plantation in Brazil," Queen Silvia told Göteborgs-Posten in August last year.

According to the Queen, it was her father's transfer of the plantation, and three plots in São Paulo in 1939 that made it possible for Wechsler to move to Brazil. Wechsler had already in 1938 been urged by the authorities to leave Germany.

But Ingrid Lomfors, researcher in history at Gothenburg University and one of the experts on the TV4 show which aired on Wednesday this week, criticized that fact that the Queen's investigator – Erik Norberg – has a connection to the Royal Court.

Norberg is a history scholar and used to be the director general of the National Archives, but he is also the secretary of the The Royal Swedish Academy of Letters, History and Antiquities (Kungliga Vitterhetsakademien), the board of which the King the Queen and Crown Princess Victoria serve as honourary members.

Lomfors also criticized the fact that Wechsler and Sommerlath were described as equals in the Queen's investigation.

”They had a business transaction, that much is true, but to make it sound as if the two parties were meeting in a good deal, that is almost to falsify history,” Lomfors said to Aftonbladet.

But the Royal Court repudiated the criticism, claiming the Queen has done everything in her power to clear her father's name.

”Erik Norberg is one of the foremost scholars in his field. The Queen and her family have delivered all the facts they have been able to find. It is facts that Norberg presents. We feel that it is the interpretation of these facts that TV4 differ from us on,” Bertil Ternert, Royal Court spokesperson told Aftonbladet.

The Local/rm (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

17:45 January 20, 2012 by Gletta
She is German, there are not many of that age whose fathers were not up to something in the war. What would be far more interesting was some investigative journalism on Swedens's role in the war, the relationships businesses, the owners and leaders, politicians had with the Nazis.
18:56 January 20, 2012 by engagebrain
In the 1930s jews were 'encourged' to leave Germany, and could leave provided (a) they handed over their assets and (b) had another country that would accept them.

It is a reasonable assumption that Silvia's dad's little deal was nothing like a voluntary exchange - given that one party had knife to his throat the other was connected to the knife.
19:58 January 20, 2012 by RobinHood
Good point Gletta. The entire modern German population has a parent, grandparent or great grandparent who played some part in the war. Almost everyone of them has done what little they can to face up to it, deal with it and move on. Like the Queen, most modern Germans find it distressing to be confronted with events that occured years before they were born, and expected to accept some kind of responsibility for them.

As you say, there are plenty of modern Swedes who have done much less to recognise and face up to their own skeletons locked deep inside their own family cupboards. Anyone would think Mr Kamprad was the only Nazi sympathiser in Sweden. He was not, by a long chalk. How many of those invesigative journalists have quietly set aside the mistakes of their own parents, grandparents and great grand parents who were waving swastikas at a German army passing through western Sweden on its way to invade Norway? Blatant hypocracy of the worst kind.
20:14 January 20, 2012 by ericksoneric
Or is this "too soon"

We all have skeletons in our closet, parents grand parents, great grandparents were involved - WWII was a horrible time in our history and as pointed out from above anyone with German ancestry has some attachment somewhere at some point - If anything it makes the Queen seem more human because even in her lineage there is a skeleton. In our quest to become a more global world we are going to have to accept and forgive an awful lot, and even look over in understanding.
20:41 January 20, 2012 by acidcritic
If you scrape enough in any german, you will find a hidden nazi living inside
20:43 January 20, 2012 by Greysuede
It sounds like a blackmail! The Queen personality has nothing to do with Nazi, Bolsheviks, Jews or Muslims!

Long live the King & Queen!
20:53 January 20, 2012 by TheWatchman

There is no evidence that it is blackmail, all I see hear is the truth.


That's not true, I've known about 10 Germans, none of them were Nazis, and were deeply ashamed of their countries' past. One of them is close enough to call a brother, and yet I'm a Jew. The Nazis these days live rather far from Germany.
21:12 January 20, 2012 by procrustes
The people who should be ashamed are the TV4 "journalists" getting a ride at the expense of an innocent woman. If they're into this "sins of the father" crap, then maybe they need to start explaining why Sweden's Bofors provided anti-aircraft cannons to Hitler, or SKF provided ball bearing for Hitler's panzers, or Gehring's SWEDISH wife and their hob-nobbing with Swedish high society, or their abject cowardice in refusing to help Finland, or their abject cowardice in allowing Hitler's troop trains to cross Sweden...it's all so sick.

There has to be another agenda than just embarrassing the Queen. Maybe a real journalist should try to get to the bottom of it...oh, excuse me, that would require some courage.
21:22 January 20, 2012 by The Watcher

If u are a blond jew with blue eyes I believe you.
22:14 January 20, 2012 by jostein
Olof Aschberg, granddad of Robert Aschberg, profited on the misery of the russians during the russian revolution by being a fence for the treasures stolen from people murdered during the revolution. But we dont see Robert Aschberg paraded through the press every second week because of that? Even thought Robert Aschberg wields real power in sweden. Whilst the queen is simply a figurehead. Different people, different rules, it seems.
22:19 January 20, 2012 by Harry Grouse
More slander. he most powerful weapon
23:22 January 20, 2012 by DAVID T
Once a german.....
23:30 January 20, 2012 by storstark
agree that all swedes have to face up to their wartime past, and that means dusting off a few skeletons and saying, 'ok we did that'... kiruna was mined back then too you know, the train tracks to Narvik still scar the land where the iron ore was transported to Norway and shipped to Germany to build tanks, planes and bombs...

but don't agree that sylvia is guiltless... as a royal and a leech on society she owes it to the people who have paid for her work-shy existence to at least be honest with them... admitting her father was a member of the nazi party, but hey most of germany was as going against it meant being ostricised and possibly even killed is better than outright denial... surely someone needs to say 'you're a german brazillian, for gawd's sake, your roots are quite obvious you stupid inbred tart!'... whoops, just said it...
23:49 January 20, 2012 by absolut
I agree with storstark. The problem is that the queen defends her father whatever. She should have accepted what he did and then move on. Nobody blames her. She is not responsible for her father's actions. Instead she does everything to defend him. Like Hess's daughter said: she can still love her father, but she has to acknowledge what he did and move on. That's what people are waiting for, Silvia.
02:56 January 21, 2012 by Larry Thrash
Some "Journalist" are vile human beings. They hide behind the motto that the press should be questioned about their motives. There should be more law suits brought to court to hold these "Journalist" accountable for their vile behavior.

Long live the Swedish Monarchy!
03:43 January 21, 2012 by nar klockan klamtar
Many Swedish people love their monarchy,and all the snidey dirt mongering by lefties with chips on their shoulders makes the people love them all the more. Long live the precious monarchy.
07:54 January 21, 2012 by anonymous4
Can't they leave Queen Silvia alone? No one chooses their parents and/or heritage. Why not think of the baby that will make her a grandmother? Think of the present and the future!
12:21 January 21, 2012 by viennacalling
the propaganda continues! once a great leader becomes a dictator, sounds all too familiar. Silvias father was a Great Man so too was Tony Salazar of Portugal he allowed the British to have the Largest Tungsten Carbide Mine and Germany had the 2 Smaller Mines and they built ammunition to fire at and kill each other ! 70,000,000 million killed in WW2 on both sides Catholics Christians Muslim Greek Orthodox Russian Orthodox all religions including the poor jewish (who seem to get the most attention) the good news is after the next huge war the people that remain will be the Meek
18:31 January 21, 2012 by guliver
Let's remember the help of the Swedish people to save the Jews of Danmark,

Let's remeber Wallenberg who saved Jews.

Let's remember the brave Swedish Conoul in Strasburg-France ,who gave my fother a Swedish diplomatic document that he is under Swedish protection, saving his life from deportation to Auschwizim.

Let's remember all these good angels..

Let's remember all the poor 70 millions Jews and not Jews who died during that horribile war.

and let's say we hope it will not happen again

19:08 January 21, 2012 by Jimmy
As previously stated. Her father did it NOT ME. They were the times. Let's make sure the the people are not fooled again like back then.

Job done move along.
20:43 January 21, 2012 by Gletta
Tell you what Guliver lets remember the bad ones, not forget what one person can do to another and not hope, but ensure it never happens again
20:51 January 21, 2012 by Kevin Harris
When she stands in a certain light, don't you think she looks a bit like Saddam Hussein?
21:47 January 21, 2012 by TheWatchman
@ The Watcher

No actually, I have brown eyes and black hair.
23:01 January 21, 2012 by krrodman
@Kevin Harris

15:11 January 22, 2012 by PlanB
No, The Joker out of Batman (Jack Nicholson vintage).

A bloke down the pub told me that whole thing is a smokescreen to distract us from the real scandal. Apparently she gets a ton of free money from the government to live in the lap of luxury while the rest of us get taxed up to the eyeballs.

Personally I find it hard to believe such a ridiculous story.
19:34 January 22, 2012 by emanuelarosa
Everyone who went to Brazil during that period were nazists. So why would her father do the same as the rest of nazi germans? If you visit the southof Brazil and Argentina most of them speak german, in some cities they dont even speak portuguese. I dont know if her father was, but I dont think it matters because she cant pay for his actions. The more she cares about it, trying to prove the opposite the more Media will be judging.
00:47 January 23, 2012 by Reason abd Realism
To posters who say that if the Queen acknowledged that her father did something wrong, the people would accept this and move on.

To this I say: Nonsense.

The branch of the press that attack celebrities and royals are usually the lowest form of press parasites, sometimes called 'ambulance chasers', who are overjoyed to discover and broadcast evidence of celebrity/royal unhappiness, or to manufacture unhappiness by what they write, as in this case. They also manufacture unhappiness and angry reactions by unrelenting pursuit and photo harassment, which we know can involve chasing them to their death in a Paris tunnel.

Would the press 'move on' if Silvia said 'My dad was a war criminal'? Never.

And the evidence of his 'wrongdoing' at least in TL articles seems minimal at best. Not bad to get a plantation and to have your life and the life of your family saved in exchange for a factory in Berlin, that may have been bombed to bits by the end of the war in any case.

And what does the press expect Silvia to say. 'There are one or two grey areas in the research, so, well, I guess I have to now accept public crucifiction for the unsubstantiated hypothesis that he may have been a member of the nazi party and/or he may have behaved imperfectly with regard to this particular business transaction'?

And frankly whatever degree of 'blame' is appropriate for her father, the basic fact is she is not her father, and should not be held responsible for his actions. Like all of us, she should be held responsible for her own actions and statements, not those of others.
13:08 January 23, 2012 by trade
Silvia's father seems to have been a profiteer from the Nazi regime and Jewish Holocaust. Not very nice to say the least.
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