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Swedish angels and hyenas meet grateful refugees: The reception of concentration camp survivors in the Scanian press during the year 1945
Linköping University, Department for Studies of Social Change and Culture, Department of History, Tourism and Media. Linköping University, Faculty of Arts and Sciences.
2015 (English)In: Historisk Tidskrift (S), ISSN 0345-469X, Vol. 135, no 2, 266-300 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This study provides a chronological and thematic examination of the reports of three Scania newspapers about the 1945 arrival and stay in Sweden of survivors from the Nazi concentration camps. The results have been compared and contrasted with previous Swedish and international research on reports about the liberation of the concentration camps and the arrival and reception of the refugees in Sweden and this study qualifies some of their conclusions. The reports in the Swedish press about the survivors were inconsistent. On the one hand, the reporting was imbued with empathy and sympathy for the refugees, and filled with narratives of a problem- and conflict-free existence in Sweden for the refugees and harmonious relations with the Swedes. There was also a desire to highlight the well-organized Swedish refugee reception and the democratic values of Sweden, themes that have been highlighted by previous research. On the other hand, the reports in the press also emphazised that there were problems with the reception, that the refugees were not always satisfied with some of the routines and did not always appreciate Swedish food and help. There were also reports of Swedes, especially young men, who misbehaved around the refugee centers, especially harassing female survivors. Nationality, but even more so gender, thus played a major role in how both the refugees and the Swedes were described in the press. In general, Swedish women and refugee women were described as well-behaved, while Swedish men and male refugees, in some cases, were portrayed as troublesome. Previous research has discussed if the press neglected to write about Jews among the people liberated. In the Swedish context, one explanation for this has been that the Swedish press neglected to write about the UNRRA-action because it was primarily women and non-Scandinavian Jews who arrived with these transports. The present study challenges these claims. The press in fact wrote predominantly about women refugees and did mention that there were non-Nordic Jews among the arrivals in Sweden. However, there were very few articles that solely discussed the Jewish survivors or the Jewish suffering during the Holocaust per se, which can be explained by the fact that the refugees were primarily described in terms of their nationality. Other possible categorizations of the survivors, such as for example disabled or Romany, were thereby also marginalized or made invisible in the first press reports of 1945.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
SVENSKA HISTORISKA FORENINGEN , 2015. Vol. 135, no 2, 266-300 p.
Keyword [en]
Holocaust; Jewish survivors; press coverage; 1945; Sweden; refugee reception
National Category
History and Archaeology
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-120245ISI: 000356467400004OAI: diva2:842615
Available from: 2015-07-21 Created: 2015-07-20 Last updated: 2015-08-24

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Thor Tureby, Malin
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Department of History, Tourism and MediaFaculty of Arts and Sciences
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