News Ticker

The Origins of Swedish Multiculturalism

IMAGE: via Occidental Observer

How Sweden became Multicultural
M. Eckehart
Helsingborg, Sweden: Logik Förlag, 2017

By F. Roger Devlin | 23 September 2017

OCCIDENTAL OBSERVER — This brief (96 pages) study of the historical origins of Sweden’s multicultural policy was published ten years ago in Swedish, but has just now been made available to the English reading public. It is not a history of immigration to Sweden, which would require a much longer treatment, but of the spread and triumph of the multicultural idea. Massive extra-European immigration only happened afterwards, partly as a consequence of this shift in thinking.

In the early 1960s, when the story begins, the most significant minority ethnic groups in the country were of northern European stock: Finns were most numerous, followed by Estonians and the Sami, or Lapps, native to northern Sweden itself.

But following the end of World War II, others began arriving. In 1963–4, calls for restricting immigration began to be heard. This helped spark a series of debates in the press on the status of ethnic minorities in Sweden. It is generally agreed that the multicultural policy formally inaugurated in 1975 had its origin in these debates; but as the author of the present study points out, the background of the debaters and their motivations have seldom been inquired into.

Their initiator and most important contributor was David Schwarz (1928–2008), a Polish-born Jew who arrived in Sweden in 1950 for medical treatment related to typhus and tuberculosis he had contracted while a concentration camp inmate in Germany.

On October 21, 1964, Schwarz published “The Foreigner Problem in Sweden” in Dagens Nyheter, one of several Swedish dailies published by the Jewish-owned Bonnier Group, writing:

Before the Second World War Sweden was relatively restrictive with regards to allowing in refugees. The need for labor was not as great as it is today, and some professions feared foreign competition. But by the end of the war the government’s attitude changed, and over time 14,000 Jews and many others were transferred here from the German concentration camps. Simultaneously tens of thousands of Baltic refugees and several thousand stateless people fleeing the Russians came. Since then Sweden has continued to receive foreigners […] In other words Sweden got a large group of people, approximately 400,000, who were not born in the country.

Schwarz went on to argue that immigrant groups should face no pressure to assimilate; they should unconditionally be permitted to retain their cultural particularity. He recommended the appointment of a parliamentary inquiry with a view to formulating a culturally pluralist immigration and minority policy. […]

Be Sociable, Share!