Swedes who wanted to marry Germans were forced to prove that they were not Jewish. And ‘racially impure’ marriages could be annulled by Swedish courts, according to evidence presented by the Swedish Research Council on Tuesday.
Since 2001, two research programmes have explored various aspects of “Swedish fear, horror and fascination, but also kinship within Swedish science, culture and church life with nazism and Nazi Germany”.
With a budget of 29 million kronor, the programmes have produced surprising results about recent Swedish history.
Following recommendations from the Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, priests in the Swedish Church applied certain German laws from 1937 onwards, reported Dagens Nyheter.
Any Swede who wanted to marry an arian German was forced to sign an affirmation stating that none of the German’s grandparents were Jewish.
According to Lund University’s Professor Anders Jarlert, who led the research, Sweden’s application of these laws lacked historical and democratic legitimacy. It was also alien to the Swedish sense of justice, said Jarlert.
The evidence uncovered by Professor Jarlert shows that Sweden was not merely paying lip service to its powerful neighbour. The Swedish courts were complicit too, annulling a number of marriages and declaring the children born within them as illegitimate.
Stig Ekman, a professor of history with a special interest in nazism, told DN that Sweden’s culture of secrecy is one reason why the details of the priests’ and courts’ lack of resistance to nazi influence is only emerging now, 60 years later.
“Sweden had a culture of silence and secrecy with an enormous apparatus of supervision in the form of what would become Säpo [the security police],” said Ekman.
Ekman added that Swedes’ continued shame over certain events during the war also contributed to the covering up of elements of collaboration.
“We slavishly served the German executioners by transporting two million soldiers through Sweden,” he said to DN.