Sweden – The Country That No Longer Is


For Mamma, life in Sweden began at the refugee camp in Alvesta, Småland. My parents are among the Jews who were expelled from Poland in 1968, and even to this day, Mamma always wakes up in Alvesta on the train route between Stockholm and Malmö.

The Sweden that my parents came to was not a flawless utopia, but it was idyllic compared to the Poland of that time – and partly also compared to today’s Sweden. Crime was hardly something that an immigrant family needed to take into account when the new life was about to begin.

The class trip could start in a rental complex in Farsta and continue to a chain house in Sollentuna without being confronted with either a culture of silence or bombings. There were no spots on the map where you could not let your children move because the state had resigned.

A few decades later, there are bullet holes in the town hall in Sollentuna. The children on Malmvägen, where I went to kindergarten, are being held by parents who are afraid of shootings. A decline of that kind goes against our most basic human instincts.

People strives for a better life for their children. But postmodern ideas have made our generation particularly susceptible to beautifying paraphrases and relativizations: When there are shootings and bombings one hears objections that Sweden is better than Chicago, or that society has not actually “collapsed” – as if someone claimed otherwise.

In fact, insecurity and violence are one of the most revolutionary societal changes that have taken place during the time my family lived in Sweden. It is this change that I am trying to portray in this chronicle.

Public baths that suddenly can no longer keep order without “security hosts” and “language resources”. Ambulance personnel exposed to attacks in areas where they are perceived as intruders. Libraries harassed by (immigrant)gangs not looking for books, but a place to take over and people to subdue.

The issue of insecurity in libraries turned out to be particularly controversial, and Stockholm’s then cultural councilor Roger Mogert responded to a series of articles accusing me of xenophobia and class contempt.

Antisemitism in Malmö is another phenomenon that has proved difficult to write about without being met with outbursts and inaccuracies. But I have done my best to sound the alarm that antisemitism today is characterized by rage and violence never seen before.

Paulina Neuding SvD

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