• Sweden edition
 
Malmö Eurovision Countdown
'I came to Malmö in 1974 and I still haven't left'

'I came to Malmö in 1974 and I still haven't left'

Published: 02 Apr 2013 10:09 GMT+02:00
Updated: 02 Apr 2013 10:09 GMT+02:00

There are 7,063 Polish-born people currently living in Malmö, making the Poles the fifth largest nationality group in the southern Swedish city. Almost 1,000 people from Poland have moved to the city in the last three years, leaving Stockholm as the only Swedish city with more Polish natives.

From fleeing anti-Semitism to seeking work, each Pole has a story to tell as to why they ended up in the ethnically diverse city that boasts 152 different nationalities.

SEE ALSO: Malmö: Cheaper than Stockholm and warmer than Gothenburg

Take 65-year-old Natan Walden for example, who left his homeland in 1968 during the political crisis which saw Jews like him persecuted. Walden was given the option of moving to Israel but opted instead for the United States before moving to Malmö in 1974.

"What happened in 1968 to Polish Jews was horrible. My whole family was basically thrown out so we went to America," he tells The Local at his home in central Malmö.

"I met my future wife back home and she came to visit me in New York. She had moved to Malmö and said I should come for a visit and to get married. That was 1974 and I still haven’t left."

A lover of music, Walden worked as a session musician in New York City playing bass guitar and piano. His musical talent helped him find work in Sweden as a teacher and working on popular television shows like Melodifestivalen and Helt apropå ('By the by'), which won a Rose d'Or at the Montreux TV Festival.

"When I went to America I could just say 'Hello, how are you?' which was more than I could say when I first came to Sweden," Walden says.

"In 1988 I was part of the selection process for Melodifestivalen and played on all the songs that year. My favourite was 100% by Lotta Engberg that came third behind Stad i ljus by Tommy Körberg. It was a much better song and it was no surprise when Stad i ljus did nothing at the Eurovision Song Contest.

SEE ALSO: Swedish comic Petra Mede to host Eurovision

"Back then the Melodifestivalen was about real music and live performance. It’s no longer about music but about image, style and is a bit of a circus. Musicians aren’t in demand the way they were," he says.

Despite his reservations for the modern Eurovision, Walden admits he'll watch the contest and will pick who he supports on the night

"Whoever has the best song with the best musicianship will be the one I cheer for."

Not far from Walden’s home is the local Polish grocery store managed by 26-year-old Martin Wilczynski who runs the family business. A second generation Pole he was born in Malmö after his parents emigrated from Gdynia in the mid-1970s.

"The Communist regime made it hard for people in Poland to have a good life. There was the chance for something better in Sweden and of course more work opportunities," Wilczynski says.

Wilczynski's father worked in the Malmö shipyards along with many other immigrants from Italy and former Yugoslavia.

"I’m not sure how they all communicated with each other but somehow it must have worked," the younger Wilczynski says with a laugh.

His mother got a job in a local hospital before the family opened the city’s first Polish store in the early 1990s. The business has expanded from a small shop to one of the bigger outlets in Möllevångstorget and Malmö’s diversity means there are plenty of non-Polish customers.

"There is a rich food culture here in Malmö so I’d say we have 70 percent Polish customers and the rest are from everywhere else. Polish people tend to miss certain things like the milk which we import along with all our products.

"We’ll often have Swedish people coming in looking for ingredients to make a Polish dish after seeing something on television," he adds.

The upcoming Eurovision Song Contest should also be good for business despite Poland’s absence from the event. The nation withdrew citing financial pressure after it co-hosted last year’s European football Championships. Eurovision won’t even be broadcast on Polish television.

"After detailed analysis of pros and cons of participation, management of TVP decided that Telewizja Polska S.A. will not take part in Eurovision Song Contest," spokeswoman Joanna Stempień-Rogalińska of the Polish national broadcaster said in a statement.

"It’s a pity Poland won’t take part as there are so many of us here. I feel that it is a mistake but you can understand why," says Wilczynski who admits he hasn’t fallen for the Swedish Melodifestivalen hype.

SEE ALSO: In Pictures: Robin Stjernberg wins Melodifestivalen

"For me I don’t care so much for the Eurovision but I'll support Sweden on the night. It’s good for the city to host an event like this as it will bring in tourists and put Malmö on the map in a good way."

Financial pressures are also forcing the closure of the local Polish consulate which will cease its activities this summer. A spokesperson for the consulate told The Local that "funding is being diverted elsewhere as Polish people are moving to other places nowadays."

The figures tend to bear this out with migration levels from Poland decreasing combined with the number of Poles leaving Malmö for pastures new.

Sweden still provides an opportunity for new arrivals, and the nature of the work is often different from the labourers who came in the 1970s.

"If you look in the local hospitals you will see a lot of Polish names who are doctors. That is perhaps the greatest contribution the Polish community have brought to Malmö," Wilczynski concludes.

By the numbers: a snapshot of Malmö's Polish population

* 7,063 Polish-born residents living in Malmö

* Poles are the fifth largest nationality group living in Malmö

* 916 Polish-born residents have moved to Malmö in last three years

* 502 Polish-born people who have left Malmö in last three years

* 75,323 Polish-born people living in Sweden

* 13,522 Polish-born residents have moved to Sweden in last three years

* 4650 Polish born people have left Sweden in last three years

Figures from Statistics Sweden (Statista centralbyrån - SCB)

Patrick Reilly

Follow Patrick on Twitter here

Don't miss...X
Left Right

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Sweden resumes aid to 'anti-gay Uganda'
Hillevi Engström and protesters against Uganda's anti-gay laws. Photos: Maja Suslin/Ben Curtis/TT

Sweden resumes aid to 'anti-gay Uganda'

Sweden has resumed sending development aid funds to Uganda, after suspending payouts back in March due to "anti-gay legislation". READ  

The Local List
Top ten coffee spots in central Stockholm
Fanny feels at home at the Blå Lotus. Photo: Isabela Vrba

Top ten coffee spots in central Stockholm

If you're wondering where to grab your next cappucino, then wonder no more. The Local talked to the locals in Stockholm and found out the best spots in town for the ultimate fika experience. READ  

Swedish neo-Nazis join fight in Ukraine
The Azov task force. Photo: Sergei Chuzavkov/TT

Swedish neo-Nazis join fight in Ukraine

Four Swedes are fighting with the Ukrainian task force Azov - a squad which flies a flag with Nazi symbols and, according to one Swedish soldier, fights for "a white Ukraine". READ  

Swedish elk get one-way ticket to Denmark
The elk in this picture are not the ones that will be sent to Denmark. Photo: The Uppsala Koala

Swedish elk get one-way ticket to Denmark

Up to a dozen elk will be transported from Sweden to Denmark in an effort to help maintain local marshlands. READ  

Sweden worst in EU at getting foreigners jobs
Photo: Henrik Trygg/Imagebank Sweden

Sweden worst in EU at getting foreigners jobs

UPDATED: Swedish citizens are the most likely to be employed in the EU, but Sweden is among the very worst when it comes to getting non-EU citizens into work. READ  

Man arrested for burning partner's face
Photo: Linn Malmén/TT

Man arrested for burning partner's face

Police suspect that a man in western Sweden is responsible for the extreme burns on his partner's face. The man has been arrested on suspicion of aggravated assault - and potentially attempted murder. READ  

In Pictures: Conchita Wurst in Stockholm
Photo: Maja Suslin/TT

In Pictures: Conchita Wurst in Stockholm

Eurovision winner and LGBTQ idol Conchita Wurst is in Stockholm this week for Stockholm Pride - and joined Swedes at Skansen for a colourful summer sing-along. READ  

Stockholm holds colour contest for new metro
Photo: Joel Bagon

Stockholm holds colour contest for new metro

Stockholm's new metro line is not set for preliminary construction until 2016, and will not be completed until 2022 - but Swedes already have the chance to vote for the new line's colour. READ  

Sweden's heat wave officially over
Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT

Sweden's heat wave officially over

The heat wave that swept over Sweden recently has finally passed, meteorologists reported on Wednesday, promising cooler and more autumnal temperatures around the corner. READ  

Ukraine rebels release kidnapped Swede
Rebel tanks on the road to Horlivka in June. Photo: TT

Ukraine rebels release kidnapped Swede

The Swede who was kidnapped by pro-Russian rebels has been released after nearly three weeks of being held hostage - although no one knows where he is now. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Lifestyle
Stockholm Pride kicks off
Analysis
The top six ways the US and Sweden differ
National
Swedish youth suicides hit 25-year high
National
Politician reported for selling 'negro ball'
National
Police turn blind eye to Swedish 'slave trade'
Blog updates

27 July

Approaching Stockholm (Around Sweden in a kayak) »

"I woke up in the comfort of my own little cabin on Eva and Rolf’s boat, it was 7:30am and I was feeling a bit groggy after a couple of beers with all the lovely locals the night before. The previous day had really taken its toll on my body and I was very stiff and..." READ »

 

24 July

Sharing our Pride: Celebrating Love & the LGBT Community! (Stockholm in my American Heart) »

"It’s mid- July in Stockholm, and with much of the city on vacation, things can seem a little quiet – the streets, the bus, and the grocery store. One thing that has not paused for a summer break, though, is preparation for Stockholm’s Pride Festival, which will take place from July 28 to August 2...." READ »

 
 
 
Gallery
Stockholm Pride: Allsång på Skansen with Conchita Wurst
Skatteverket
Sponsored Article
Introducing... ID cards and permits in Stockholm
Gallery
People-watching, June 26th - 28th. Get inside Stockholm's hottest nightclubs
Gallery
Top ten Swedish taboos
Society
Seven-year-old Swede cycles to Berlin
Politics
'Gaza conflict needs help, not empty rhetoric'
Society
Swedes voted 'most beautiful' in the Nordics
Business & Money
Sweden demands EU clarity on Bitcoin tax
National
Swedish organic sales enjoy 'amazing' growth
Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT
Society
What's On in Sweden
Gallery
People-watching July 23
National
Swedish cops elect not to shoot 'angry elks'
Business & Money
New alcohol retail rules threaten micro-breweries
Gallery
People-watching Båstad
Business & Money
Sweden falls to third in global innovation index
Society
Swedish ornithologists keep webcam watch
Photo: Andreas Nordström/Image Bank Sweden
Gallery
Top ten Swedish beach hot spots
Tech
Swedish Wiki vet sets new content record
Photo: Fastighetsbyrån
Lifestyle
In Pictures: The Local's Property of the Week
Sponsored Article
Introducing... Your finances in Stockholm
Sponsored Article
Introducing... Housing in Stockholm
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

751
jobs available
Swedish Down Town Consulting & Productions
Swedish Down Town Consulting & Productions is an innovative business company which provides valuable assistance with the Swedish Authorities, Swedish language practice and general communications. Call 073-100 47 81 or visit:
www.swedishdowntown.com
If you want to drink, that’s your business.
If you want to stop, we can help.

Learn more about English-language Alcoholics Anonymous in Sweden. No dues. No fees. Confidentiality assured.
AA-EUROPE.ORG/SWEDEN
PSD Media
PSD Media is marketing company that offers innovative solutions for online retailers. We provide modern solutions that help increase traffic and raise conversion. Visit our site at:
http://psdmedia.se