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Russia labels SWEDEN ‘Nazis’ as they join NATO after Kremlin claimed Hitler ‘had Jewish blood’ 


Russia has stepped up its propaganda war against Sweden by producing bus stop advertisements accusing the peaceful Scandinavian nation of being Nazis.

The hybrid warfare strategy comes as Sweden prepares for NATO accession, abandoning decades of neutrality in light of Moscow’s military aggression towards Ukraine.

The provocation comes hot on the heels of Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov’s incendiary comments that ‘Hitler had Jewish blood’, which drew demands for an apology from Israel. 

The campaign has seen adverts pop up in Russia depicting various Swedish national heroes as Nazis with the slogan: ‘We are against Nazism, they are not.’ 

The word ‘we’ is in the colour of the Russian flag and ‘they’ in the colours of the Swedish flag. Selective quotes appear next to each picture purporting to paint the figure as a Nazi.

Astrid Lindgren, the creator of one of Sweden’s touchstone culture products in Pippi Longstocking, is singled out for her alleged Nazi attitudes, as well as Ikea founder Ingvar Kamprad and film maestro Ingmar Bergman.

Another poster paints Sweden’s King Gustaf V as a Nazi.

Russia has stepped up its propaganda war against Sweden by producing bus stop advertisements accusing famous Swedish national heroes of being Nazis

The poster paints Sweden's King Gustaf V as a Nazi. The disasteful poster campaign has seen adverts pop up in Russia and also Sweden depicting various Swedish national heroes as Nazis

The poster paints Sweden’s King Gustaf V as a Nazi. The disasteful poster campaign has seen adverts pop up in Russia and also Sweden depicting various Swedish national heroes as Nazis

The slogan at the top reads: 'We are against Nazism, they are not'. The hybrid warfare strategy comes as Sweden prepares for NATO accession, abandoning decades of neutrality in light of Moscow's military aggression towards Ukraine

The slogan at the top reads: ‘We are against Nazism, they are not’. The hybrid warfare strategy comes as Sweden prepares for NATO accession, abandoning decades of neutrality in light of Moscow’s military aggression towards Ukraine

The Swedish Foreign Ministry acknowledged the poster campaign as the work of Russian group ‘Our Victory’.

‘We have no intention of engaging in a public polemic with the Russian organisation ‘Our Victory’, which is reportedly behind these posters,’ a spokesperson for the foreign ministry said. 

‘In Russia, smears about ”Nazism” have been used repeatedly against countries and individuals who are critical of Russia’s actions.’ 

Sweden’s prime minister, Magdalena Andersson, called the campaign ‘completely unacceptable’.

Counter advertisements have appeared outside the Russian embassy in Stockholm with text in Cyrilllic. 

At the bottom it says: ‘Dear checkists (sic) and other employess at the Russian embassy. Is it hard for you to go to work? Do you feel ashamed at the end of the day? It may soon be too late to defect. Contact us for a consultation on political asylum. Coffee on us!’ 

This advert in Russian appeared outside the Russian embassy in Stockholm

This advert in Russian appeared outside the Russian embassy in Stockholm

At the bottom it says: 'Dear checkists (sic) and other employess at the Russian embassy. Is it hard for you to go to work? Do you feel ashamed at the end of the day? It may soon be too late to defect. Contact us for a consultation on political asylum. Coffee on us!'

At the bottom it says: ‘Dear checkists (sic) and other employess at the Russian embassy. Is it hard for you to go to work? Do you feel ashamed at the end of the day? It may soon be too late to defect. Contact us for a consultation on political asylum. Coffee on us!’

Ingvar Kamprad, who died in 2018, is the founder of global furniture retailer giant IKEA

Ingvar Kamprad, who died in 2018, is the founder of global furniture retailer giant IKEA

Swedish film director Ingmar Bergman, who died in 2001, directed many classic films including 1957's The Seventh Seal

Swedish film director Ingmar Bergman, who died in 2001, directed many classic films including 1957’s The Seventh Seal

Children's author Astrid Lindgren, who created the character Pippi Longstocking, a girl with two platted pigtails and enormous physical strength

Children’s author Astrid Lindgren, who created the character Pippi Longstocking, a girl with two platted pigtails and enormous physical strength

‘But it is important to say already right now that Sweden could become the target of an influence campaign by foreign powers,’ she said. 

What did they actually say? 

A Russian poster campaign accusing famous Swedish figures of having Nazi sympathies. 

Astrid Lindgren

The author of beloved children’s books based around the character is quoted by the Russian propaganda campaign as saying:

‘And so I think I’d rather say ‘Heil Hitler’ my whole life than get the Russians on top of us. You can hardly think of anything so awful.’

Lindgren wrote the line in her World War Two diaries. She was also a committed anti-Nazi who wrote Hitler was a ‘little, unknown German artisan who had become ‘his people’s nemesis and cultural destroyer’.

 Ingmar Bergman

The Swedish auteur was quoted as saying about a Nazi rally:

 ‘I had never seen anything like this eruption of immense energy. I shouted like everyone else, held out my arm like everyone else, howled like everyone else, and loved it like everyone else.’

But Bergman entirely disavowed the Nazis once the images of the concentration camps came to light.  ‘When the truth finally conquered my resistance, I was overcome with despair, and my self contempt, already a severe burden, accelerated beyond the borders of endurance,’ he wrote.

 Ingvar Kamprad

The Ikea founder was quoted as saying:

 ‘I was a Nazi! I admired Hitler!’

Kampard was indeed a Nazi sympathiser during the war, but later described this as the ‘greatest mistake of my life.’

‘It’s important that all Swedes, and not least those of you in journalism, recognise that there is a risk that foreign powers will try to influence the Swedish debate climate.’

There were suggestions that the poster campaign was part of a strategy of preparing the ground for military action against Sweden before it comes under the NATO defence umbrella, much as Moscow did against Ukraine. 

Former Swedish prime minister Carl Bildt said: ‘Are there any limits to these guys? Are they preparing a ‘denazifying’ operation against Sweden as well?

‘I think this will further solidify support for Sweden joining NATO’. 

Accusing western countries of Nazism is a part of the justification for their own war,’ said Mikael Östlund, head of communications for the Swedish Defense Defense Agency. 

‘This is probably directed towards its own population. This has been one of the justifications for the war in Ukraine as well.’ 

‘This follows Russia’s narrative and is in line with the propaganda that the Kremlin and Russian state media are pumping out. We have seen that they have done it against western countries before as well,’ he said. 

‘Then you know that you will probably reach the Swedish media.’ 

‘If I am to make a qualified guess, it is aimed at the Russian population but also with the aim of reaching Swedes.’ 

Meanwhile, Russia doubled down and accused Israel of supporting neo-Nazis in Ukraine in a bitter row sparked by Sergei Lavrov’s comments that Adolf Hitler had ‘Jewish blood’.

Israel slammed the Russian foreign minister yesterday, saying his claim – made when talking about Volodymyr Zelensky who is Jewish – was an ‘unforgivable’ falsehood that debased the horrors of the Nazi Holocaust. 

Lavrov said: ‘I think that Hitler also had Jewish origins, so it means nothing. For a long time now we’ve been hearing the wise Jewish people say that the biggest anti-Semites are the Jews themselves.’ 

Lavrov’s comments sparked fury around the world, with Zelensky condemning the ‘anti-Semitic’ remarks which showed ‘Moscow has forgotten all the lessons from World War II’.

Yair Lapid, Israel’s foreign minister, also branded the remark ‘scandalous’ and said the Russian ambassador would be summoned for a ‘tough talk’. 

 

 

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