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”Vad angår baltutlämningen oss?” : Svensk självbild och historiebruk av baltutlämningen i Aftonbladet mellan 1947–2022 / “What Has ‘Baltutlämningen’ Got to Do with Us?” : Swedish Identity and the Image of the Baltic Extradition in Aftonbladet between 1947-2022

  • Tornberg, Johanna
Publication Date
Jan 01, 2023
DiVA - Academic Archive On-line
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This essay explores how and why the memory of the Baltic extradition in 1946 has been shaped and used in relation to the social democratic Swedish identity, trough the theory of cultural history. The method utilized is a qualitative content analysis of the 71 articles in Aftonbladet that discuss the term “baltutlämningen” between 1947-2022. Here, a theoretical and methodical device is presented and applied. The device outlines the Swedish identity by examining how the articles negotiate guilt to avoid shame, thus preserving the self-image.       The findings show that the remembrance of the Baltic extradition serves to cement an image that upholds the identity of the social democratic group as rational, humanitarian, and anti-fascist. Consequently, when Aftonbladet brought the memory to life in 1966 it was shaped to avoid anything that would cause shame by contradicting those values. Thus, the narrative came to portray the political right as guilty for the extradition, and the Balts’ unnecessary suffering during it. Later, the memory was used to reinforce the progressive and humane self-image by being used as a cautionary example, legitimizing current social democratic stances regarding questions of asylum, international relations, and war crime policies.           In the 2000’s a new discussion emerged alongside the previous narrative, as historians started questioning the facts and reassessing the feelings of guilt and shame. With the admission that fascist sympathizers may also have infiltrated the social democratic group, the historian debate joined the European narrative: promoting the international cause for democracy, through national self-evaluation, to combat intolerance and fascism globally. Thus, the memory of extradition of the Balts has come to connect the Swedish cause to the European one, maintaining the rational, humanitarian, and anti-fascist self-image.      From an identity perspective the recurring guilt-shame complex shows that the humanitarian and democratic values are desired, but not innate, aspects of Swedish identity. Furthermore, the study shows that guilt and shame have consistently been used as educational tools to shape the Swedish people, inside and outside the classroom. 

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