Skip to comments.Young Swedes lack knowledge about communism
Posted on 05/09/2007 1:25:37 PM PDT by WesternCulture
Less than fifteen years after the last Soviet troops pulled out of the Baltic States, a new survey has shown that young Swedes are still in the dark about the fate of its neighbours behind the Iron Curtain.
A poll carried out by Demoskop on behalf of the Organization for Information on Communism (Föreningen för upplysning om kommunismen - UOK) found that 90 percent of Swedes between the ages of 15 and 20 had never heard of the Gulag. This can be contrasted with the 95 percent who knew of Auschwitz.
"Unfortunately we were not at all surprised by the findings," Ander Hjemdahl, the founder of UOK, told The Local.
"We had a strong hunch that this would be the case having spent a few years travelling around to various schools," he added.
Of the 1004 young Swedes involved in the nationwide poll, 43 percent believed that communist regimes had claimed less than one million lives. A fifth of those surveyed put the death toll at under ten thousand. The actual figure is estimated at around 100 million.
The poll also found that 40 percent of young Swedes believed that communism contributed to increased prosperity in the world; 22 percent considered communism a democratic form of government; 82 percent did not regard Belarus as a dictatorship.
This information gap has roots that date back many years, according to Anders Hjemdahl.
"There were strategic reasons. For example, I think the Social Democrats only won one absolute majority in the post-war years. Therefore they had to rely on the support of smaller parties, one of which was the communist party.
"Another reason is that a large majority of Swedish journalists are left-wingers, many of them quite far left," he said.
Hjemdahl speculates that some historical ignorance may also be explained by the fact that Sweden accepted Stalin's takeover of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia.
"Sweden expressed its de jure recognition of the Soviet Union's World War II annexation of the Baltic States. Nazi Germany and Franco's Spain were the other countries to grant such strong recognition," he said.
The organization has provoked a strong reaction in the few short hours it published its findings in Dagens Nyheter.
"We have had lots of responses over the course of the morning. Some aggressive communists have called us to voice their opinions.
"But we also had two victims of communism crying on the phone, explaining that they had waited fifty years for this," said Hjemdahl.
He also added that the organization has plans to make its effort international and is currently working on translating its material into English.
Honorary members and contributors to UOK include former Estonian Prime Minister Mart Laar, Latvia's EU Commissioner Sandra Kalniete and Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt.
God I hope they don’t poll our public schools (gulp) - they would probably find results similar to Sweden.
And the Europeans call us isolated and ignorant of the world around us.... The swedes take the cake.
But once it does...look out!!!
I recall O'Reilly had a poll of college freshmen......somewhere in the neighborhooh of 68% could NOT name who America fought in World War II.
But, but, but... I thought Swedes were among the most educated in the world. ...well, says the Euro Peon Union anyway.
- In the whole of the Western World (except the newly liberated parts of Eastern Europe) the result would probably be about the same.
Outside the Western World (including Russia) a lot of people are even LESS aware of what crimes the enemies of democracy and freedom have committed throughout history. In India, for instance, even people with university education don’t know much about Hitler, WWII or the Holocaust - and this nation, India, alone houses one sixth of the world’s population...
Numbers like these sound like the result of a deliberate effort to whitewash history.
3000+ years of Indian history is too lengthy to accomodate world history to a satisfactory level. Of a 400-page history text-book, perhaps about 20 would have been devoted to 20th Century world history(compared to the unending volumes regarding Indian independence and the politics of the time). And since the bulk of it comes towards the end, most students tend to skip it, so as to rely on the bulk of the rest to score in exams. The availability of question choices in the final examinations also encourage this.
I am afraid you are right, Phoenix. Here in Europe most if not all MSM are clearly leaned towards the left. Such ignorance is well prepared by them and then inoculated into the public.
A Spanish Defence Forces report this week affirmed that Europe is rapidly loosing importance in the world and not even being able to tackle the most urgent problems, such as terrorism.
BTW, the only leaders that seem able to change this situation were both right wing: German Chancellor Merkel and Elected French President Sarkozy.
I don’t know which word you use in English to describe Europe’s evolution in the last 50 years: dive or plunge?
- As a Swede, I’d like say we are well educated in areas like international politics, languages, mathematics, economics and most scientific and technological domains of knowledge.
The subject of History, however, has had a weak position in Swedish education compared to several other European countries for large parts of the 20th century (especially in the period of 1960-1990 (when Socialism was at its height in Sweden).
During the last 20 years or so, public interest for History has increased substantially and in many ways, History education has improved. In this particular case (Communist crimes against Humanity) however, there’s obviously still lots of work to be done.
- Most people on Earth have a history that goes back thousands of years.
Countries like Denmark, Norway and Sweden are much older nations than, for instance, India and our civilizations are also thousands of years old (although the Vikings didn’t develop a literature of their own until the era called THE ‘Viking age’, roughly 750-1000 AD), but how could this allow us to forget about neither Nazism or Pol Pot.
According to the logic of your post, it’s okay if people in Greece, Italy and India forget about Stalin and Hitler while Americans, on the other hand, ought to become experts in this field.
You can bet they all know about Hiroshima and Nagasaki. But not the Berlin Airlift, the Marshall Plan, etc.
Do you think it is any different in this country?
Who hasn’t heard of McCarthyism? Who has heard of Alger Hiss?
McCarthy was a U.S. Senator who was mostly right even if he did push things a bit far. The communist threat he was concerned with was real.
Alger Hiss was an ultra-liberal and a Soviet Spy. The Left denied that for over 40 years but the Soviet archives that were opened in 1992 proved his guilt. You are not going to learn that in a U.S. classroom these days.
I don’t think so. I believe they’d be much worse.
Not surprising, and if things continue as they are, this will be true in the US soon enough...
I want to clarify that it was not my opinion earlier, but a reason for the negligence of Nazi/Communist history.
Another reason would be the easier load on teachers to be able to teach old history, things too far out into the past, than to teach the complex dynamics that lead to WWI and WW2 and the Cold War, etc. I would think this isn’t just unique to India, but the rest of the world, on the whole... Teachers Unions, perhaps?
Oh, please. Spare me. Most Americans have very little knowledge about the USSR.
I agree with those who post that a similar survey in the U.S. would yield similar results.
Please see Post 14
Liberals read Marx, Conservatives understand Marx.
“Not surprising, and if things continue as they are, this will be true in the US soon enough...”
- I hear a lot of Americans, both Conservatives and Liberals, complain about the quality of US education nowadays.
In Europe there is also a huge concern about education and often we hear reports of how our national educational systems are failing in this or that way (wether we are Dutch, Spaniards or Swedes etc), but I’d say US Americans seem to worry more about these issues.
Personally, I don’t feel I know enough about US education to say its worse or better than its European counterpart.
In any case, The US must be doing something right. Being Swedish, I’m well aware we have awarded the US more Nobel prices than any other country.
That the US education system is also derelict in teaching history is absolutely no excuse. We have the same problem, only to a slightly lesser extent.
I'd wager that looking at things like trade, science and military exchanges, the events happening in the Roman Empire, and India, had more profound effects, more consistently, than most of the rest of the world, for much of history, until perhaps, the late 19th century. The habitable parts of the New World was discovered greatly owing to this fact(I am aware of Viking landings in the N. American coasts, but not much changed there, as a consequence). As a result, the histories of these regions are much less monotonous than the ones you cited, and through that, comes the bulk.
I agree with you on the point about emphasising modern history over the past. It is extremely important for people to know communism/socialism, and its ills, than about empires of yore.
Depends on the country. The US is in the middle of the pack in most areas. Finland, Japan, Korea, and Canada, for example, come out ahead of the US in all areas of study. Consistently.
I suppose you could use 'retrogression', 'devolution', or 'degeneration'. I sometimes use my made up term 'de-Enlightenment', because the Enlightenment led to the Age of Reason and scientific method. What we have now with the denial of truth inherent in political correctness and multi-culturalism is quite the opposite.
Well, Canadian schools are largely government run. So are Finnish schools. But they still come out ahead of the U.S.
Also, why was American education, government run for well over a century, the model for the world a century ago?
Something else is going on here. It is societal. My guess is the breakdown of the family.
- I understood all along you weren’t aiming at making excuses for anybody, but I still think it’s important to point out that something is very, very wrong in the case of India (and many other nations with an ‘inferiority complex’ towards the West).
India suffers from a self centered, ‘introspective’ approach to many issues, be it education, culture or politics. Often, this attitude is characterized by an almost laughable degree of chauvinism (for instance, people in India are taught by education, media etc that India is the home, the ‘Mother’ of more or less every aspect of human civilization. India is said to be the ‘Mother’ of all religions, of every field of learning, of every science and of every trade, invention etc).
Another aspect in the case of India (which, in part, explains the poor interest for genocide's abroad) is the absence of what we would call the idea of ‘human dignity’. In reality, a human life doesn’t matter at all.
The well known Indian concept of ‘Karma’ isn’t about ethics. Karma is only a way to explain the ‘order’ of the Universe. It’s about the interdependence of cause and effect, of ‘now’ and ‘eternity’. Using Karma logic, one could well say the Nazi genocide was bad Karma for the people who took part in it, but on the other hand, the Jews MUST have done something bad to ‘deserve’ this fate.
India is admirable in many ways and I feel optimistic about the future of that great nation, but I also hope India one day will discover the world beyond its borders, just like so many foreigners have discovered India.
Back to Communism/Fascism/Totalitarianism.
There are two major reasons why everyone ought to know about WWII and the evils of Communism and Fascism/Nazism:
1. They are comparatively recent events that, to a very large extent, shaped and reshaped the modern world and few other individual occurrences in World History provide more of ‘keys’ to understanding why the world looks like it does today.
2. Communism and Fascism are still phenomena we have to deal with. They are NOT defeated.
You couldn’t have hit the truth more better. I agree completely.
I'd say that the kind of promiscuity among teenagers, owing to the existence of reliable birth control, has put the fear/detestment/stigmatisation of pregnancy and child-rearing in many young women. With that, the population plunges. Just a badly-thought theory here...
The American education system was pretty good up until the 70s, the same time our societal decay started taking root.
There is a relationship - the introduction of relativism (at the expense of Classical Liberalism) being the common denominator.
Below is the Wikipedia entry for Alger Hiss that refers to General Kobyakov's search of the Soviet archives for any proof that Hiss was a Soviet spy. The highlights are mine.
I'm assuming that the Wikipedia entry covering the search of the archives describes the proof that you are referring to that supposedly "proves" that Alger Hiss was not a Soviet spy. In fact there is a mountain of evidence proving that he was and I'll be happy to provide some of it since it has mostly escaped the MSM reporting on the Hiss case.
The key thing you should get out of the Wikipedia entry is that a total of two days were spent looking through a massive Soviet archive looking for Hiss material. This in not a two day job. The Soviet archives naturally refer to Hiss by code name and you have to do the necessary detective work to identify who is who in the various reports. Without this additional effort any search would be worthless and could only turn up uncoded references to Hiss. The Soviets were much too disciplined to make that mistake. There were other non-Soviet services that did make that mistake, however, and that is a part of that mountain of evidence that I refer to. These eastern bloc archives refer to Hiss by is real name and they are consistent with Soviet data.
In fact most of the supporters of the "Hiss is Innocent" theory have given up on defending Hiss and have admitted that the evidence is just too great to any longer be denied.
After the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, Alger Hiss petitioned General Dimitry Antonovich Volkogonov, who had become President Yeltsin's military advisor and the overseer of all the Soviet intelligence archives, to request the release of any Soviet files on the Hiss case. Interestingly, both former President Nixon and the director of his presidential library, John H. Taylor, wrote a similar letter, though the actual contents of those letters are not publicly available.
Russian archivists and researchers responded by reviewing their files, and in the fall of 1992 reported back that they had found no evidence that Alger Hiss had ever engaged in espionage for the Soviet Union or any evidence that Hiss was a member of the Communist Party. However, Volkogonov subsequently revealed that he had spent only two days on his search and had mainly relied on the word of KGB archivists. He stated, "What I saw gave me no basis to claim a full clarification. [Hiss attorney] John Lowenthal pushed me to say things of which I was not fully convinced."
General-Lieutenant Vitaly Pavlov, who ran Soviet intelligence work in North America in the late 1930s and early 1940s, provided some corroboration of Volkogonov in his memoirs, stating that Hiss never worked for the USSR as one of his agents.
In 2004, General Julius Kobyakov, a retired Russian intelligence official, revealed that he had been the person who actually searched the files for Volkogonov. According to Kobyakov, his research revealed that there was no indication that Alger Hiss had been either a paid or unpaid agent of the Soviet Union only "after careful study" of KGB archives and "after querying sister services" (military intelligence)"
I trust the archives more than a bunch of Communist Generals. They have every reason to lie and you really can't put any faith in what they tell you. Add to that the fact that the Soviet system was highly compartmentalized. It isn't given that the Generals would know anything about Hiss.
As to the Soviet archives themselves there is much evidence pointing to Hiss. In fact there are a few items that have been discovered that refer to Hiss without a code name. I quote from Chapter 4, page 164 of "In Denial" by John Earl Haynes and Harvey Klehr:
"Finally, Weinstein and Vassiliev note that several of their KGB documents from the 1930's, when Hiss and KGB agent Hede Massing competed to recruit Noel Field, name Hiss as a GRU agent in plain text, without a cover name."
Weinstein and Vassiliev had unusual access to the Soviet archives in the early 90's and they have sterling credentials as historians as do Haynes and Klehr.
You can add to this certain Hungarian archives that were made available post Cold War that also name Hiss without the use of cover names.
And you can add to this all of the references to Hiss (and there are many) where a code name is used and the reference can only be to Hiss due to the context and date of the individual Soviet archive documents.
And if that is not enough there is the evidence that the primary accusers of Hiss back in the late 40's (Whittaker Chambers and Hede Massing) were telling the truth about many other matters besides the Hiss case that have been confirmed.
I think all of this, and there is much more, weighs more heavily than the statements of a couple of communist cold war generals.
I didn't say that the archives are compartmentalized. It is the activities themselves that are. If you don't know who "Lawyer" is when you read the archives then you don't know anything. Those who were cleared to know the identity of Hiss know. Those that weren't could not know. You cannot prove that this General had that access.
Hiss was guilty as sin.
McCarthy was a U.S. Senator who was mostly right
even if he did push things a bit far. The communist threat he was concerned with was real.
Even that understates the case. McCarthy didn't "push things too far," he simply tried to investigate the issue openly and reasonably. The "objective" journalists and the "liberal" politicians, being as tendentious then as they are now, demanded that he name who the communists were, for the purpose of of condemning him after he did it.
The reality was that communist penetration of the US government was far more extensive than Senator McCarthy ever claimed. But as far as the "objective" journalists and the "liberal" politicians were concerned, opposing communists at all was "pushing things too far."
The wisest and most cautious of us all frequently gives credit to stories which he himself is afterwards both ashamed and astonished that he could possibly think of believing . . .That's a kind way of saying that there's a sucker born every minute.
It is acquired wisdom and experience only that teach incredulity, and they very seldom teach it enough. - Adam Smith
Socialism is simply the second guessing of those who actually do things, as a way of evading the reasonablness of according such people credit for their accomplishments. It is difficult for people to avoid being suckers for socialism's second guesses, and consequently many people don't realise that second guessing is all they are trusting when they trust socialists.
“Lawyer” could be anyone.
You have failed to prove your case.
True enough. OK I guess that means that Alger Hiss was innocent after all. Wow. Who would have guessed? You learn something everyday.
Do we know the names of any infamous gulags? The Communist version of Auschwitz or Dachau?
I had no idea there were any young Swedes left...
Not off hand. Weren’t they just numbered. Google Alexander Soltzenetzn (bad spelling).
Link to the wikipedia article listing the camps (looks less messy than my former post):
The correct spelling seems to be ‘Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’.
Had to look it up.
I’ve read ‘The Gulag Archipelago’. Learned a lot but, quite unfortunately, nothing about how to spell Russian names in our alphabet.
I’ll blame Bush.
“I had no idea there were any young Swedes left”
- Sadly enough, there are more young Swedes left than there are young Swedes opposed to the left.
Haven’t you heard?