FROM THE HOLOCAUST TO THE GULAG: THE CRIMES OF NAZISM AND COMMUNISM IN SWEDISH POST-89 MEMORY POLITICS

in European Cultural Memory Post-89
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Abstract

In comparison with many other European countries, Sweden constitutes a special case when dealing with Europe’s dark past. Each country has a characteristic feature in this respect, but Sweden differs in several ways. A distinctive feature is that in the 1990s Sweden assumed a great guilt regarding the Holocaust, although Sweden’s guilt is not as great when compared with other countries. Another distinctive feature about Sweden is that Communismand its criminal history are very sensitive issues, particularly among intellectuals, despite the lack of concrete experience of Communism. In Sweden, as well as in most other countries, there is widespread consensus about Nazi evil, both as ideology and practice. The crimes of Communism are, however, a minefield where the debaters promptly take on dogmatic ideological outlooks. Consequently, in Sweden it is not possible to agree about the role of Communism in the country’s memory politics. This asymmetry in Swedish memory politics is obvious in the reactions to the government’s Living History project and its information campaigns about the crimes of Communism and Nazism. The educational campaign about Nazism (1997) didn’t cause any protests, while the information campaign about communism (2006) provoked ample dissension and ideological deadlocks.

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