Learn about Sweden’s efforts to advance education, remembrance, and research on the Holocaust and genocide of the Roma.
Learn about Sweden’s efforts to advance education, remembrance, and research on the Holocaust and genocide of the Roma.
Joined the IHRA
International Holocaust Remembrance Day
Raoul Wallenberg Day
Irina Schoulgin-Nyoni – Head of Delegation
Petra Mårselius (Living History Forum) – Deputy Head of Delegation
Katherine Hauptman (Swedish History Museum) – Museums and Memorials Working Group
Lars Lindgren (Swedish Equality Ombudsman) – Education Working Group
Stefan Andersson (Project Manager, The Living History Forum) – Education Working Group
Meriam Chatty (Project Manager, The Living History Forum) – Academic Working Group
Oscar Österberg (Coordinator Academic Contacts, The Living History Forum) – Academic Working Group
Anna Edman Bastos (Project Manager, The Living History Forum) – Museums and Memorials Working Group
Rebecca Krus (Swedish Ministry of Education) – Academic Working Group
In May 1998, on the eve of the new millennium, Swedish Prime Minister Göran Persson, British Prime Minister Tony Blair and the President of the United States Bill Clinton agreed to set up a Task Force to promote international cooperation on Holocaust education, remembrance and research, laying the foundation for the IHRA.
The first Stockholm International Forum on the Holocaust took place on 26–28 January 2000. The Stockholm Declaration became the founding document of the IHRA.
Twenty years after the establishment of the IHRA, Sweden has been entrusted with holding the Presidency from 1 March 2022 until 28 February 2023. It is with a sense of historical responsibility that the Government of Sweden, an initiator of the IHRA, takes up the role as Chair, building on its work two decades earlier.
Prime Minister Löfven’s deep commitment to the cause of combating antisemitism has been expressed through a series of measures to strengthen security for Sweden’s Jewish community and for Holocaust Remembrance.
50 heads of state and government and 20 organizations have been invited to the Malmö Forum on Holocaust Remembrance and Combating Antisemitism 13-14 October 2021. One central priority of the Swedish IHRA Presidency will be to follow up on the Malmö Forum.
A state museum for passing on the testimonies of those Holocaust survivors who sought refuge in Sweden will open its doors in Stockholm in 2022.
“The magnitude of the Holocaust must be forever seared in our collective memory. The unprecedented character of the Holocaust will always hold universal meaning”, says Prime Minister Stefan Löfven.
“The murder, persecution and terrible suffering of the Jewish people, Roma and millions of other victims of Nazism left an indelible scar across Europe. Although the killing did not take place on Swedish soil, Sweden both influenced and was influenced by what happened. The Holocaust is also part of Sweden’s history. As a society, we have an obligation to promote education, remembrance and research on the genocide committed by the Nazis and their allies so that new generations will be able to learn from history. The Swedish Holocaust Museum will be one way of doing so.”
Foreign Minister Ann Linde:
“Antisemitism and all forms of racism are threats to us all and to our open and democratic societies. Wherever we see antisemitism, and no matter who expresses it, we must step in and – with unwavering resoluteness – expose, confront and combat it. Antisemitism is a direct threat to Jews, but it is not a problem to be borne by Jews alone. We must address Holocaust denial and antisemitism by protecting and promoting democratic values and respect for human rights.”
Minister for Culture and Democracy Amanda Lind:
“Even though history has shown us what the ultimate consequences of antisemitism, antiziganism and racism can be, they still exist in all parts of society. Sweden must set an example and do all it can to prevent something similar from happening again. Remembering is also about learning from history.”
“By learning about our history, we can strengthen and defend our open and democratic Swedish society today and in the future,” says Minister for Education Anna Ekström.
All IHRA Member Countries are asked to complete a basic questionnaire with key facts about the state of Holocaust education, remembrance, and research in their country. The answers to the questionnaire, and to the Country Report, if available, are provided by the national delegations, who are also responsible for keeping the information up to date.
Through the initiative of former Swedish Prime Minister Göran Persson Sweden helped found the forerunner of the IHRA in 1998, and in 2000 initiated the Stockholm International Forum on the Holocaust, at which the IHRA was established and the Stockholm Declaration adopted to serve as the basis for its unique expert, knowledge and dialogue-oriented activities. Sweden’s role as a founder and its long-standing engagement in the IHRA is a central starting point for the Swedish Presidency in 2022–2023.
The Swedish Presidency will have two major priorities; following up on the pledges made at the Malmö Forum and focusing on further strengthening the IHRA as an institution. The motto for the presidency is “Together for Impact – Promoting Holocaust remembrance and combating antisemitism and antigypsyism through cooperation and dialogue”, read further on the following link: Together for Impact – the Swedish Presidency of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance – Government.se
In October 2021, at the initiative of former Prime Minister Stefan Löfven, the Swedish Government organised the Malmö International Forum on Holocaust Remembrance and Combating Antisemitism, at which 60 delegations made pledges in the IHRA’s area of activity. Sweden pledged to take on the Presidency of the IHRA in 2022–2023 and, as part of that commitment, to follow up on the pledges made at the Malmö Forum.
Holding the Presidency of the IHRA is thus part of consistent efforts whereby the Swedish Government continues to prioritise these issues both in their own right and as an important part of Sweden’s never-ending efforts to promote human rights, democracy and the rule of law.
Speeches by Stefan Löfven in connection with Malmö Forum – Government.se and other policy statements by representatives from the Swedish government in connection to the Malmö forum are found by the following link, including the Outcome Document – Pledges to the Malmö Forum Remember – ReAct: Malmö International Forum on Holocaust Remembrance and Combating Antisemitism – Government.se
The Swedish policy statements include the following pledges:
We pledge to preserve and pass on the memory of the Holocaust
We pledge to promote education to prevent antisemitism and other forms of racism and to strengthen Holocaust research
We pledge to combat antisemitism, antigypsyism and other forms of racism – online and offline
We pledge to promote Jewish life, strengthen Roma inclusion and enhance security for civil society
The governmental agency The Living History Forum is responsible for coordinating and following up the National plan against racism, similar forms of hostility and hate crime, including measures within the action program against antisemitism. The agency has formed a network of state agencies and a reference group with civil society organizations for this purpose. It also presents annually a comprehensive report to the Government that includes a description of the work of agencies involved, identified challenges and suggestions for the work ahead.
The measures include a national initiative and research initiatives to enhance education and knowledge about the Holocaust, antisemitism, antigypsyism and other forms of racism.
Information in English is available via the following link: Measures against racism, similar forms of hostility and hate crime – Government.se
Information from the Living history forum is available via the following link: The Living History Forum | Forum för levande historia
There has been a significant growing widespread awareness of the commemoration of 27 January in Sweden, the Holocaust Remembrance Day. The Living History Forum is explicitly tasked by the Swedish government to spread awareness about this day and the Forum has since 2003 consistently and purposefully worked to inform about and support the commemoration of this day of remembrance.
All over Sweden different kinds of ceremonies and programs are taking place, in communities, schools, by organizations and in churches. The Living History Forum compiles a digital calendar where people can find out where and how they can participate in the commemoration. Living History Forum also produces a digital, livestreamed commemoration program on 27 January.
For more information on events that has taken place on 27 January previously, see the IHRA Remembrance Day database.
Sweden’s only university department specialised in studies of the Holocaust and genocide is the Hugo Valentin Centre at Uppsala University. The centre is an inter-disciplinary forum with research as its primary task. Its research is focused two prioritized areas: cultural and social phenomena and processes of change related to the ethnic dimension in human life, and the Holocaust and other cases of genocide and serious crimes against human rights.
These subject fields include minority studies as well as Holocaust and genocide studies, as well as related and adjacent subjects, in which the Centre has a marked specialisation: Holocaust history, large-scale violence, discrimination, multilingualism, migration and integration.
Furthermore, the Centre offers a Master’s programme on studies on the Holocaust and genocide. For further information, please visit: https://www.valentin.uu.se/
At Uppsala University, there is also the Centre for Multidisciplinary Studies on Racism (CEMFOR). Racism Studies is the academic study of racism in its various manifestations. Research on racism is an inherently multidisciplinary field, which is indebted to the historical sciences, social sciences, cultural studies, and law studies. Examples of research projects are, for example, Radicalisation and violent extremism and Study of violent racism, correlations between organised and unorganised hate crime and the affective dimensions of ultra-nationalism.
Lund University offers undergraduate and Master’s programmes in Jewish Studies, which are conducted at the Centre for Theology and Religious Studies. Examples of courses offered at the Centre are ‘After Auschwitz – The Memory of the Holocaust’, ‘Jewish Cultural Responses to the Holocaust’ and ‘History of the Holocaust’.
Further, the Department of History at University of Gothenburg offers courses such as ‘The Holocaust in historiography and in public debate’ and ‘Sweden and the Holocaust’.
However, research in the Holocaust is carried out in many Swedish universities. Currently eight larger research projects on the Holocaust, with Swedish funding, are listed in the official database SweCris. Typically for Swedish universities, much of the new empirical research in the humanities is done through doctoral studies.
The Swedish Research Council will carry out a special research initiative from 2022–2027 based on a survey of Swedish research on the Holocaust and antisemitism, including groups such as the Roma and antigypsyism.
Romani Studies has long held a special position at Södertörn University and has the Nordic countries’ first professorship in the subject. Romani Studies is since 2021 a department at Södertörn University. Södertörn University also carries out historical research in connection to issues on the persecution of Roma and the Roma genocide.
An independent Research Institute – The Institute for Holocaust Research in Sweden (IHRS) has been established 2021 to conduct comprehensive and nuanced research on all aspects concerning the Holocaust, focused on material and topics relevant to Sweden. The institute will facilitate a hub where scholars from all over the world will conduct multidisciplinary research, complementing the Swedish Holocaust Museum, and a yet to be determined leading Swedish research university (About IHRS).
In 2018 Living History Forum conducted a survey of adult Swedes in the ages of 18–79 on their understanding of the Holocaust (Perceptions on the Holocaust – Twenty Years after the Living History Information Campaign). Its purpose was to provide a picture of how people living in Sweden may understand and perceive the Holocaust.
Oscar Österberg, Uppfattningar om Förintelsen – 20 år efter informationsinsatsen Levande Historia (2019) [https://www.levandehistoria.se/material/uppfattningar-om-forintelsen]
Sweden does not have an institute nor an authority that approves and keeps statistics on which teaching materials are used.
The Living History Forum has a specific mission to raise awareness about the Holocaust and about crimes against humanity committed by Communist regimes, as well as to strengthen the public will to work actively for equality between all people. The agency develops pedagogic material for teachers and students in elementary school, secondary school, and other types of education (About us | Forum för levande historia).
The Swedish Holocaust Museum will open digitally on the 16 June and will later have an initial physical space in Stockholm, at Torsgatan 19. The museum will preserve and pass on the memory of the Holocaust as it pertains to Sweden. The Living History Forum has collected artefacts that will form the basis of the collections of the Swedish Holocaust Museum. The museum will then continue to collect material.
Since its inception in 2003 the Living History Forum has a specific mission to raise awareness about the Holocaust, as well as to strengthen the public will to work actively for equality between all people.
List of institutions and monuments
The Raoul Wallenberg Academy. A foundation established in 2001 supporting young leaders with Raoul Wallenberg as a role model. It has produced public exhibitions on Wallenberg’s deeds and on human rights. These have been on display in Stockholm and in more than 20 countries, in cooperation with Swedish diplomatic missions.
Several museums address the Holocaust, some with permanent or long-term exhibitions and some with more temporary ones. Malmö Museum has a permanent exhibition showing the so-called White Buses of the Swedish Red Cross which brought Jews and others from some of the concentration camps in Germany at the end of WWII.
The main regional museum in the city of Lund, Kulturen, has a permanent collection of items brought to Sweden by Ravensbrück concentration camp survivors. These were mainly Polish women, who were interviewed soon after their arrival by a Polish journalist living in Sweden, Zygmunt Łakociński. The library of the University of Lund owns the original interviews translated into Swedish.
In 2005 there were local projects in some regions in Sweden based on a project initiated by the Living history forum named ‘On this place’. Students made their own surveys on local history connected to the Holocaust. In some places this led to installations of public monuments. This is the case in the city of Mellerud in southern Sweden. In 2018, the Stockholm House of Culture & Theatre, in the city centre of Stockholm, hosted a photo exhibition of Holocaust survivors that attracted a wide audience. In 2019, the Museum of Photography (Stockholm) hosted a similar exhibition, inaugurated by Prime Minister Stefan Löfven.
The Swedish History Museum hosted an exhibition named Speaking Memories – the Last Witnesses of the Holocaust The exhibition was produced by Jewish Culture in Sweden and The Swedish History Museum. It was on view at The Swedish History Museum during 2019 and toured in Sweden until April 2022. Presenting portraits and testimonies, the exhibition focused on survivors who rebuilt their lives in Sweden after the Holocaust. It also presented an interactive installation – Dimensions in Testimony – where audience members can have conversations with pre-recorded video images of Holocaust survivors, Pinchas Gutter and Eva Schloss.
The exhibition provided access to USC Shoah Foundation’s Visual History Archive, which contains 55,000 testimonies from survivors and witnesses of the Holocaust and other genocides. In addition, authentic objects borrowed from the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum will be on display. All of the above were presented for the first time in Sweden.
The Jewish Museum in Stockholm is mainly a museum of Jewish history in Sweden but often houses temporary exhibitions with themes related to the history of the Holocaust.
On Holocaust Memorial Day 2019, an exhibition named The Women in Ravensbrück was inaugurated at Borås Museum; a city in south-west Sweden with 80 000 inhabitants. The exhibition aims at showcasing testimonies of women who were victims of the Holocaust. Through such testimonies the museum aims at pointing out the role of differences in the view on gender during the Nazi regime. Part of the exhibition is built on the material of interviews made in Sweden in 1945 with women arriving from Ravensbrück. The exhibition is made in cooperation with the organization Remember the Women Institute and Dr Rochelle G Saidel. Funds were allocated by the local county administration.
The Army Museum, one of the state museums in Stockholm, has a permanent exhibition about Raoul Wallenberg, the Raoul Wallenberg Room. The exhibition consists of an installation of Raoul Wallenberg’s office at the Swedish legation in Budapest during the fall of 1944. It tells the story of how he, together with a number of Hungarian Jewish helpers, managed to save tens of thousands of Jews from deportation and death.
In 2016, the Råå regional museum in the south-west of Sweden hosted an exhibition about the rescue of Danish Jews in October 1943, of which some arrived in Råå. In total, 7 906 Danish Jews were rescued over the strait from Denmark, at night and in fishing boats. The exhibition was produced in partnership with another regional museum, the Maritime Museum at Viken. The name of the exhibition was ‘The escape across the strait’.
The Jewish cemeteries in Stockholm, Gothenburg and Malmö have permanent memorial monuments for the memory of relatives of Swedish Jews who perished in the Holocaust.
In the centre of Stockholm, on Raoul Wallenberg Square, there is a monument in memory of Raoul Wallenberg and another monument in memory of those who were murdered in the concentration and extermination camps.
At the Jewish Community building in Stockholm, next to the Great Synagogue of Stockholm, there is a Holocaust memorial monument including an inscription of more than 8 000 names of relatives to Swedish Jews.
The city of Stockholm, in cooperation with the Jewish Community and the Association of Holocaust Survivors and the Living History Forum, have established so-called Stolpersteine in four different locations in Stockholm.
In 2014, one hundred years after the birth of Per Anger, a diplomat and Raoul Wallenberg’s associate at the Swedish legation in Budapest during WWII, was honoured by the City of Stockholm. A tree with a memorial plaque was planted in a city park.
The Swedish Holocaust Museum will open digitally on the 16June and will later have an initial physical space in Stockholm, at Torsgatan 19. The museum will preserve and pass on the memory of the Holocaust as it pertains to Sweden. The Living History Forum has collected artefacts that will form the basis of the collections of the Swedish Holocaust Museum. The museum will then continue to collect material. The Swedish Holocaust Museum will be a memorial museum of the kind mentioned in, for example, the Memorial Museum’s Charter (IHRA 2012) adopted by both ICOM and IHRA.”
In Sweden, there are approximately 50 Higher Education Institutions (HEIs), including state universities and university colleges as well as independent higher education institutions. Swedish HEIs receive public funding but have the academic freedom to decide on the focus on research. It is also possible for the HEI to receive public funding for projects that they have initiated. For example, Uppsala university initiated the Hugo Valentin Centre and the Centre for Multidisciplinary Studies on Racism, but it was made possible through a government grant. See chapter 4 for information of research programs, educational programs etc. on the Holocaust and genocide of the Roma.
The non-governmental organization Swedish Committee Against Antisemitism (SCAA) receives government support for facilitating journeys of remembrance to Holocaust sites.
Specific civil society organization that work in the field of Holocaust and genocide of the Roma education, remembrance, and research are seldom funded directly by the government but can apply for grants from national agencies and authorities. The Swedish Agency for Youth and Civil Society distributes funds to the civil society in the form of support for organizations, projects and international cooperation. Support can be received for combating violent extremism, providing support to those leaving extremist environments as well as preventing and combating discrimination. The agency also distributes grants to promote the participation and organization of youths, for example youth organizations representing national minorities.
The living history forum cooperate with several organizations from civil society, among others: The Association of Holocaust Survivors in Sweden, The Swedish Committee Against Antisemitism (SCAA), Raoul Wallenberg Academy, Zikaron and É Romani Glinda.
The Living history forums (LHF) assignment is to promote democracy, human rights and tolerance with the history of Holocaust as a starting point. A comparative approach to other genocides or instances of mass persecution is included. However, the Holocaust remains the paradigmatic genocide.
The LHF website includes information about the mass atrocity crimes in 1915, the Rwandan genocide and the Srebrenica massacre. At the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the Rwandan genocide, the LHF updated its relevant information and educational material and added new interviews with survivors living in Sweden. The Swedish public television produced a series of educational programmes about this genocide in cooperation with the LHF.
Besides statements on the Holocaust etc. (see chapter 1) the government has made several statements on genocide and mass atrocity crimes, including:
On 6 June 2018 Ambassador Irina Schoulgin Nyoni, Permanent Mission of Sweden to the United Nations, delivered a national statement on behalf of Sweden at the United Nations Security Council Debate on the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals (IRMCT); Swedish statement at the UN Security Council Debate on IRMCT – Government.se
On 12 December 2017, Swedish Ambassador to the United Nations, Olof Skoog delivered a national statement on behalf of Sweden at the United Nations Security Council Briefing on Myanmar, New York; Statement by Sweden at the UN Security Council Briefing on Myanmar – Government.se
On 21 September 2017, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Ms Margot Wallström made a statement at the adoption of Resolution 2379 (2017), requesting the Creation of Independent Team to Help in Holding ISIL (Daesh) Accountable for Its Actions in Iraq. Security Council Requests Creation of Independent Team to Help in Holding ISIL (Da’esh) Accountable for Its Actions in Iraq | Meetings Coverage and Press Releases