SHARE
COPY LINK

INTELLIGENCE

Sweden’s Stasi spies detailed in new book

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.

Sweden's Stasi spies detailed in new book
Stasi files in Chemnitz, eastern Germany, in a 2007 file photo

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.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.

ISLAM

Prominent Muslim head of free school seized by security police

The chief executive of a largely Muslim free school in Gothenburg has been placed in custody by the Swedish Migration Agency on the orders of the country's Säpo security police. It follows the arrests of other Imams in recent months.

Prominent Muslim head of free school seized by security police
He was seized on Wednesday and taken to an immigration detention centre in the city, Sweden's Expressen newspaper reported on Thursday
 
Abdel-Nasser el Nadi, chief executive of Vetenskapsskolan, is the fifth senior member of Sweden's Muslim community to be placed in custody in less than a month. 
 
Three prominent imams are now in custody: Abo Raad, imam of a mosque in Gävle, Hussein Al-Jibury, imam of a mosque in Umeå, and Fekri Hamad, imam of a mosque in Västerås. Raad's son is also being held. 
 
 
Sven-Erik Berg, the school's headmaster, told The Local that he had no idea what was behind the arrest. 
 
“We don't know anything. I don't know anything more than you,” he said. “We are doing nothing, but the school is naturally maintaining a dialogue with the Swedish School Inspectorate and their lawyers.” 
 
He said it was inaccurate to describe the school as a 'Muslim school' as it has no official confessional status. 
 
“The chief executive is a central person among Swedish Muslims, so naturally the group of people we recruit from are often those who have a relation to Islam or Sweden's Islamic associations,” he said. “But the school does not go around telling children what they should or shouldn't believe.”
 
On its website the school declares: “At our school everyone is treated equally irrespective of gender, religion, ethnic background, appearance, opinions, or abilities”. 
 
“We are one of the best schools in Gothenburg. You just have to look at the statistics,” Berg added.  
 
A spokesman for Säpo told Expressen that he could not comment on any of the five cases or on whether they were in some way linked. 
 
But according to the Swedish news site Doku, which investigates Islamic extremists, Säpo is probing whether el Nadi has any links to a network of Islamic militants.
 
In an article published last October, the site alleged that El Nadi's activism was part of the reason that so many young men from Gothenburg had travelled to fight for the terror group Islamic State in Syria and Iraq. 
 
El-Nadi was previously the school's headmaster, and the school was in 2018 criticised by the Swedish School Inspectorate for not sufficiently promoting equality between girls and boys.
 
When he was interviewed by Dagens Nyheter a year ago, he asserted his loyalty to Sweden. 
 
“I have five children, all of whom were born in Sweden, a big family, and I want to protect this society in the same way that I have protected my children,” he said.  
 
El-Nadi was born in Egypt but has lived in Sweden since 1992. He has twice applied to become a Swedish citizen, in 2007 and 2011, and twice been rejected. 
   
 
 
SHOW COMMENTS