INTERNATIONAL ANARCHIST MOVEMENT-SWEDEN:
REMEMBER BJORN SODERBERG:
The following reminder of the death of a good comrade at the hands of the fascists just came into Molly's email today from the Swedish Anarkisterna website/group. Looking at the photo, and reading the article Molly is impressed with the tremendous waste of life of this young comrade. Here in Canada the general appearance of comrade Soderberg is such that, especially here in Winnipeg where we are mostly squat, dark and Slavic looking (except for Molly who is a dead ringer for an Iranian Ayatollah), the guy would have had to hold raffles for the girls to meet him. No doubt his personality was as winning as his looks. So sad, and the fascists who killed him are more to blame for it. In Sweden the pride of place of syndicalism is held by the SAC, and comrade Soderberg was an ethical young worker with an internationalist perspective. Here's to the memory of this young hero. Also remember what the essence of fascism is, however it may try to throw the cloak of 'moderation' over itself.
Ten years later: Remember Björn Söderberg!:
Show moral courage
On the 12th October it has been ten years since the Syndicalist Björn Söderberg was attacked in his home and killed by Nazis in a suburb of Stockholm. We solemnize his memory with a dignified manifestation on Monday the 12th. For those of you who are in Stockholm that day, we gather on Medborgarplatsen at 6 pm and march to La Mano on Katarinavägen at 7 pm. There the manifestation will end at 8.30 pm.
The context in which the murder took place, was that Björn acted openly and consequently against racism and Nazism at his workplace. For a while after the murder, protests kept coming in to Stockholms LS, the Stockholm chapter of the Syndicalist union. Tens of thousands gathered all over the country to express their disgust with the deed. Representatives of all the parties in the parliament participated in the manifestation on Medborgarplatsen.
Almost 70% of the Swedish population wanted Nazi organisations to be prohibited after the murder. But today, in our increasingly harsher class society, we witness a slowly growing support for a sneaking racism. The divisiveness of the solidarity between workers takes on such expressions.
At the same time the daily struggle against racism continues at schools and workplaces all around the country, a struggle seldom or never noticed by the media. Many people show their moral courage every day in an open stand against racism and fascism.
We will never back down - No Pasaran!/Stockholms LS, the Stockholm chapter of the Syndicalist union SAC
Nazi activity then and now
The summer of 1999 saw Nazi violence culminating in Sweden — in May two police officers were executed when stopping a car after a bank robbery performed by Nazis, and in June a car bomb severely injured a journalist living under constant death threats for writing exposing articles on Nazi organisations. That summer Björn worked as a stockroom worker when he learned that Robert Vesterlund, a leading Nazi, had gained a commission of trust in the union Handels at his workplace. Björn was determined to act despite of his own worries of becoming a target. He approached the staff management, the union and the Syndicalist weekly Arbetaren. As a result, Handels relieved Robert Vesterlund of his commission of trust and, later on, the company fired him. A month later, two armed Nazis rang on his door bell and after a heated argument shot him dead.
One of the Nazis who participated in the killing of Björn Söderberg was Hampus Hellekant, notorious in surveying leftist activists, journalists and others that he perceived as his opponents. Since his release from prison he has changed his name and, according to himself also his politics. But, as the Research Group reveals in this weeks’ issue of Arbetaren, he has never stopped his activities, he has never stopped his monitoring.
The results of which, as we’ve seen, can be severe.
Last December a Syndicalist couple and their two year old daughter were the victims of a Nazi arson in a suburb of Stockholm. The family escaped the flames by climbing down the balcony to the floor underneath. Some months earlier Hampus Hellekant had published pictures and addresses of the couple on a Nazi web page, displaying them as antifascists.
The challenge we face
We are experiencing an increasing level of Nazi violence very similar to the situation of the nineties, we wrote in Refuse to let history repeat itself. The social setting of today, with a financial crisis, increased marginalization and bigger divides between classes and a growing sense of insecurity among people is also very similar to then. However, some things differ. Today the Nazi movement is stronger than it was in 1999. And the kind of united anti-racist response we saw after the murder of Björn Söderberg was lacking after the attempted murder last year.
The same-same-but-different-card is habitually played every time anti-racists protest against marching Nazis and should, once and for all, be unveiled as the false play it certainly is. If one claims that the twenty or so murders committed by Nazis since the 80’s in Sweden alone, as well as the severe hate crimes, arsons, bombings and assaults they have carried out, is equal to the rock-throwing and street fighting of anti-racists, one lacks a sense of proportions.
Looking back at the repressed anti-racist mobilization against the Nazi march in Salem, the establishment does lack a sense of proportions. The extra-parliamentary left stood alone and five hundred people were rounded up and taken into “preventive custody” as soon as they arrived at the train station. The rest of the demonstration were cattled ( I think this means "penned"-Molly ) and never allowed to leave the rallying point.
The challenge for antifascist activists, as stated in From Salem to Stolberg: Right-Wing Martyrs and Right-Wing Violence, lies in finding effective means of resistance. The Swedish example confirms the difficulty to establish the right balance between two necessities: broad public support against the activities of the extreme right on the one hand; and retaining a critical voice against structural discrimination and (party) political hypocrisy on the other.
One of the reasons why the Salem March can continue derives from an early split within its opponents. While mainstream leftists and liberals now hold an anti-racist rally in Stockholm, far from the actual march, militant antifascists attempt to confront the march directly. This renders the Stockholm rally merely symbolic, while politicians and police commanders can portray the confrontations in Salem as yet another case of “extremist clashes”.
So the challenge remains for each and everyone of us to unite and manifest:
- That we are always many more than the fascists are ever going to be!
- That we are stronger than they will ever be!
- That we will never forget Björn Söderberg!