Swedish military loses wartime propaganda battle

The Swedish Armed Forces have lost a battle over the ownership of one of wartime Sweden's best-known public information campaigns, in which Swedes were warned not to reveal national secrets to foreigners.

The Armed Forces had taken Beredskapsmuseet, a small museum in Helsingborg, to court after it produced merchandise featuring the famous wartime logo bearing the motto ‘En Svensk Tiger’. The army won the case in the district court, but lost in Wednesday’s appeal.

The motto became famous for its double meaning. While it can mean ‘A Swedish Tiger’, it also means ‘A Swede keeps his mouth shut’. In other words, Swedes should be careful what they tell foreigners.

The court decided that the military had not proven that it owned the rights to the use of the blue and yellow tiger symbol, except for the purpose of public information campaigns in wartime. Other rights reverted to designer Bertil Almqvist, the court ruled. Almqvist died in 1972, passing the rights to his daughters, who conferred them on the museum Beredskapsmuseet.

“The ruling means that the military can no longer decide how the images should be used,” said Marie Andrée, representing the museum.

“We want instead for them to be part of the cultural inheritance.”