Swedish author's crusade against neo-Nazis

Issue 

By Mikael Karlsson

Swedish author Hans Andersson has fought against neo-Nazism for many, many years. This involves publishing books about organisations whose sole desire is to remain unknown to the public.

This naturally creates certain problems for Andersson, problems like threats and assaults. Neo-Nazism is growing in Sweden, maybe not rapidly, but steadily.

"When I kicked off my investigations it was all because of curiosity. I wanted to know more about these organisations, what kind of people were members, how big the organisations were etc. I must say that what I found did indeed surprise me", Andersson says.

In the beginning of the 1980s his work resulted in a book Stovlarna star putsade i garderoben (The Boots are Waiting in the Closet).

"A friend asked me if I should not compile all the information I had found about the neo-Nazi groups into a book, and then I realised that this was naturally exactly what I should do."

The need for the public to know, to be given accurate and up-to-date information, is one of the things that has made Hans Andersson continue his work, despite threats on his life and the lives of his family, relatives and friends. He is challenging organisations whose members are utterly violent, but this is the price you have to pay and Andersson is not so worried as perhaps he should be.

"I sat in my cottage one summer all alone when the phone rang. It was around 10pm, and when I picked up the receiver, all I heard was a voice that said, 'He is home', and after that they hung up. I understood what it was all about and gave the police a ring immediately.

"Before the police had arrived, I heard a noise in the garden. I went outside and grabbed the pole of the sunshade and gave one of them a good one on the side of the head with that."

Andersson is approximately 170 cm tall, weighs around 60 kg and is 54 years old.

"The police finally arrived, and when we sat inside, we heard a noise in the garden. The police officers went outside, their weapons in their hands. After a short while, we heard a voice say, 'Don't shoot, god damn it. I'm a photographer at Sydsvenska Dagbladet! [a local newspaper]'."

Hans remembers the episode, threatening at the time, with a broad smile and a laugh. But soon the smile fades as he recalls another episode, equally threatening.

"One morning I got hit by a car without any licence plates. I was riding my bicycle and was thrown into the street. I broke four ribs but was taken care of by a bystander who saw what happened. Just before that, someone had sabotaged the brakes on my bicycle, and I got hit by a car because I couldn't stop at an intersection. That time I broke an arm."

These are people for whom violence is the only solution to any problem. Despite all the threats, Andersson is not bitter or angry with the persons responsible. He feels sorry for them and thinks that they have problems they need to deal with.

"We are dealing with people with very serious problems, and I personally do not think that the answer is to outlaw this kind of organisation. This will only force them to go underground and will give them a stamp that says 'Dangerous people: Beware'. That would be to do the puppet masters behind the scene a big favour. If a group is made illegal, they simply change their name and continue to spread their propaganda and will manage to attract more followers simply because they are considered dangerous."

The solution, according to Andersson, is to argue with these people and crush their arguments in public. There has been a reaction against the growth of neo-Nazism in Sweden recently.

"I don't think that the Jones in their TV lounge will ever react, but there has been a reaction amongst the youth recently, and that is very encouraging indeed. And you must always bear in mind that nothing can be done overnight. It will take a very long time before we, get rid of these kinds of organisation, if we ever do."

Yet Andersson fears that neo-Nazi organisations in Sweden, and Europe, will continue to attract more and younger members in the wake of unemployment and financial hardship that is reality in Europe now.
[This interview was conducted in southern Sweden in July 1994, and originally published in the Swedish newspaper Smalands-Tidningen.]

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