Made in Sweden by Elisabeth Asbrink

2020 Limelight reviews
Historical Novels

Made in Sweden by Elisabeth Asbrink is a lovers expose into a Nordic history that lurks beneath the surface.

So we know all about Sweden. Beautiful educated Nordic people, land of individual rights, the iconic Ikea. But perhaps there are many things we don’t know about Sweden. For example, did you know that:

  • Hitler’s Mein Kampf was originally inspired by Swedish political scientist Rudofl Kjellen? That Kjellan’s ideas were adopted by German military academic Karl Haushofer, who was a friend of Rudolf Hess.
  • That when Hess and Adolf Hitler were imprisoned after the failed 1923 coup Haushofer visited them every week and mentored them on his ideas
  • That Hitler then dictated Mein Kampf to Rudolf Hess

Did you know that in 1935 Sweden passed a mass sterilisation law targeting ‘feeble minded’ and ‘subnormal’ people and between 1928 and 1976 an estimated 63000 Swedish citizens were sterilised, with Sweden topping the numbers of the Nordic sterilised population.

Have you ever heard of Frederika Bremer, dubbed Sweden’s Jane Austen, who fought for women’s rights, using her considerable, internationally celebrated literary talents.

When Sweden defeated the Soviet Union at the 1957 Ice Hockey World Cup, instead of the national anthem, the national drinking song was sung. Why? The Swedes had not expected to win, so the organisers had not brought a gramophone record of the national anthem. But, (just like our Waltzing Matilda), everyone knew the drinking song.

And Ikea, which has furnished so many homes. Did you know that founder Ingvar Kamprad was born into a Nazi loving family, was a committed Nazi from the age of seventeen, actively recruiting for the Nazi party. And that his BB (best boy) was Per Enghal, the Swedish industrialist who set up escape routes for Second World War refugees – Nazi refugees that is – smuggling them out of Europe.

If you want to know more, read this meticulously researched book. The author, Elisabeth Asbrink, says she loves her country, but love should never be blind.

Find Made in Sweden in the SMSA Library Catalogue

Reviewed by Cleo Lynch

SMSA Reading Group Member