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Sweden's Stasi spies detailed in new book

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Sweden's Stasi spies detailed in new book
Stasi files in Chemnitz, eastern Germany, in a 2007 file photo
07:40 CEST+02:00
The activities of more than 50 Swedes who spied on their fellow citizens for the East German intelligence service during the Cold War have been described in a new book.

The book's author, history professor Birgitta Almgren of Södertörn University College in Stockholm, based her findings on information gathered from the archives of Swedish security service Säpo which included details about Swedes who had helped the German Democratic Republic's (GDR) much feared Stasi intelligence service.

“The Stasi's infiltration in Sweden was much larger than people thought and Säpo didn't really understand the importance Sweden had as a heavyweight country, a buffer state, between the east and west during the Cold War,” Almgren told Sveriges Radio (SR).

Almgren's research was made possible by a 2010 court victory which forced Säpo to open its Stasi archive.

Altogether, nearly 3,000 reports were written about Sweden between 1950 and 1989, focusing on domestic politics, education, industry, and defence issues.

In the book, entitled “Inte bara spioner…: Stasi-infiltration i Sverige under kalla kriget” ('Not just spies...: Stasi infiltration in Sweden during the Cold War'), Almgren details the activities of 57 Swedes who were investigated by Säpo for suspected ties to the Stasi.

Between 1969 and 1989, the Stasi had around 32 agents living in Sweden, as well as 21 “contact people”. In addition, there were 71 East German agents who were sent to Sweden on shorter missions.

According to Almgren's book, which was released on Thursday, the group included 12 educators and researchers, ten engineers, nine businessmen, nine journalists, six secretaries, as well as 6 others from the cultural and social services field.

The book tells of “the tough-minded social democratic journalist” who “without blinking” betrayed party friends and of the high school teacher who was trained in the air force's techniques for surveillance and observation.

There is also an account of a businessman who offered information in exchange for advantageous business contracts, Almgren writes in an opinion article in the Dagens Nyheter (DN) newspaper.

However, she was prohibited from naming or contacting the people mentioned in Säpo's Stasi archive.

As Almgren feels their perspectives are missing from the book, she makes an appeal to them in the book's forward.

“If you are one of those that this book is about, you certainly have views about what I've written. Maybe I've misunderstood something,” wrote Almgren.

“No other Nordic country produced so many Stasi reports. Just like during the Second World War, Stockholm became a meeting place for representatives from both power blocs,” she writes in DN.

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