Painful Neutrality: Screening the Extradition of the Balts from Sweden

Open access

Abstract

The article deals with the extradition of Baltic soldiers from Sweden in 1946 as represented in Per Olov Enquist’s novel The Legionnaires: A Documentary Novel (Legionärerna. En roman om baltutlämningen, 1968) and Johan Bergenstråhle’s film A Baltic Tragedy (Baltutlämningen. En film om ett politiskt beslut Sverige 1945, Sweden, 1970). The theoretical framework is taken from trauma studies and its equivalent within film studies, where trauma is seen as a repeated occurrence of a past event. In this regard, literature and moving images become the means of reaching the traumatic event, a way to relive it. What separates the extradition of the Baltic soldiers from other traumas, such as the Holocaust, is that it functions as a guilt complex related to the failure to prevent the tragedy, which is connected to Sweden’s position of neutrality during World War II and the appeasement of all the warring nations. It is argued that this is a collective trauma created by Enquist’s novel, which blew it into national proportions. However, Bergenstråhle’s film changes the focus of the trauma by downplaying the bad conscience of the Swedes. In this way, the film aims to create new witnesses to the extradition affair. The analysis looks at the reception of both the novel and film in order to explain the two different approaches to the historical event, as well as the two different time periods in which they were produced. The authors argue that the two years that separate the appearance of the novel and the film explain the swing undergone by the political mood of the late 1960s towards a deflated revolution of the early 1970s, when the film arrived on screens nationwide. However, in terms of creating witnesses to the traumatic event, the book and film manage to stir public opinion to the extent that the trauma changes from being slowly effacing to being collectively ‘experienced’ through remembrance. The paradox is that, while the novel still functions as a vivid reminder of the painful aftermath caused by Swedish neutrality during World War II, the film is almost completely forgotten today. The film’s mode of attacking the viewers with an I-witness account, the juxtaposition and misconduct led to a rejection of the narrative by Swedish audiences.

If the inline PDF is not rendering correctly, you can download the PDF file here.

  • Anonymous 1970. ‘Huvudpersonen i Stockholm starkt kritisk’. – Expressen 2 October.

  • Aretakis Leonidas 2017. ‘In kommer Stelios från den svenska filmhistorien’. – FLM 5 October. http://flm.nu/2017/10/in-kommer-stelios-franden-svenska-filmhistorien/ (8 July 2018).

  • Ashuri Tamar 2010. ‘I Witness: Re-presenting Trauma in and by Cinema’. – The Communication Review 13 3 171–192.

  • Bergqvist Kerstin 1970. ‘Publiken sviker “Baltutlämningen” och regissören får inget jobb’. – Aftonbladet 31 October.

  • Bergström Lasse 1970. ‘Tragedin att vara människa’. – Expressen 7 July.

  • Bergström Lasse 1978. ‘Baltutlämningen’. – Expressen 13 January.

  • Björkman Stig 1978. Nya bilder och dagsljus. Tio svenska regissörsporträtt. Stockholm: PAN/Norstedt.

  • Brown Andrew 2016. ‘PO Enquist: “An Upbringing Like Mine Marks You Like a Branding Iron”‘. – The Guardian 30 July. https://www.theguardian.com/books/2016/jul/30/upbringing-like-mine-marks-you-like-brandingiron-per-olov-enquist-interview (8 July 2018).

  • Buelens Gert; Durrant Sam; Eaglestone Robert 2014. ‘Introduction’. – Gert Buelens Sam Durrant Robert Eaglestone (eds.) The Future of Trauma Theory: Contemporary Literary and Cultural Criticism. London: Routledge 1–8.

  • Cato Åke 1970. ‘Protest mot “Baltutlämningen”‘. – Expressen 7 July.

  • Eaglestone Robert 2014. ‘Knowledge “Afterwardness” and the Future of Trauma Theory’. – Gert Buelens Sam Durrant Robert Eaglestone (eds.) The Future of Trauma Theory: Contemporary Literary and Cultural Criticism. London: Routledge 11–21.

  • Edberg Ulla-Britt 1969. ‘Fullständig ärlig redovisning kräver inspelning i fyra plan’. – Svenska Dagbladet 12 September.

  • Ekholm Curt 1984. Balt-och tyskutlämningen 1945–1946. PhD thesis. Uppsala universitet.

  • Enquist Per Olov 1966. ‘Häng slöddret!’ – Expressen 5 October.

  • Enquist Per Olov [1968] 2018. Legionärerna. En roman om baltutlämningen. Stockholm: Norstedt.

  • Enquist Per Olov 1970a. ‘Jag skulle ha skrivit en likadan bok i dag’. – Expressen 16 August.

  • Enquist Per Olov 1970b. ‘Insinuationer – men inga belägg’. – Expressen 30 September.

  • Enquist Per Olov 1973. The Legionnaires: A Documentary Novel. Trans. Alan Blair. New York: Delacorte Press.

  • Erll Astrid 2017. ‘Travelling Memory in European Film: Towards a Morphology of Mnemonic Relatedness’. – Image [&] Narrative 18 1 5–19.

  • Frankl Elisabeth 1970. ‘Vårt engagemang räcker bara för orättvisor på andra sidan jorden’. – Expressen 27 September.

  • Freivalds Osvalds 1968. De internerade balternas tragedi i Sverige år 1945–1946. Stockholm: Lettiska förening Daugavas Vanagi.

  • Freivalds Osvalds 1971. Sverige och de baltiska staternas ockupation. Stockholm: Lettiska Nationella Fonden.

  • Gustafsson Lars 1969. ‘Är författaren onödig?’ – Expressen 28 October.

  • Gustafsson Sture 1968. ‘Vårt transportabla samvete’. – Vår kyrka 48 8–9.

  • Hiden John; Made Vahur; Smith David J. (eds.) 2008. The Baltic Question During the Cold War. London: Routledge.

  • Hjertén Hanserik 1970. ‘Upplysande men förenklat’. – Dagens Nyheter 1 October.

  • Johansson Anders 2008. Nonfiction. Gothenburg: Glänta Produktion.

  • Julin Gösta 1970. ‘Vädjan till Palme. Häv hemligstämpeln om baltutlämningen’. – Dagens Nyheter 2 October.

  • Kallifatides Theodor 1970. ‘Sima önskar inget samtal’. – Expressen 7 October.

  • Kaplan Ann E. 2001. ‘Melodrama Cinema and Trauma’. – Screen 42 2 201–205.

  • Kaplan Ann E.; Wang Ban 2004. ‘Introduction: From Traumatic Paralysis to the Force Field of Modernity’. – Ann E. Kaplan Ban Wang (eds.) Trauma and Cinema: Cross-Cultural Explorations. Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press 1–22.

  • Küng Andres 1970. ‘Regeringen och balterna’. – Expressen 6 October.

  • Lagercrantz Olof 1968. ‘Enquists bok om baltutlämningen. Ett stycke samtidshistorisk konfliktforskning’. – Dagens Nyheter 2 September.

  • Lagerlöf Karl Erik 1968. ‘Vid roten av en svensk samvetsfråga’. – Göteborgs Handels och Sjöfartstidning 2 September.

  • Laks Harri 1969. ‘Baltisk syn på Legionärerna’. – Göteborgs Handels-och Sjöfartstidning 25 March.

  • Landsmanis Arturs 1970a. De misstolkade legionärerna. Ett baltiskt debattinlägg. Stockholm: Lettiska Nationella Fonden.

  • Landsmanis Arturs 1970b. ‘En man på flykt knackar på…’. – Expressen 30 September.

  • Liffner Axel 1968. ‘Legionärerna. En roman om baltutlämningen’. – Aftonbladet 2 September.

  • Linder Erik Hjalmar 1968. ‘Baltutlämningens roman’. – Göteborgs-Posten 2 September.

  • Matheron François 1997. ‘Introduction’. – Louis Althusser The Spectre of Hegel: Early Writings. Ed. François Matheron trans. G. M. Goshgarian. London New York: Verso 1–13.

  • Maurina Zenta 1968. Befrielsens år. Svenska dagböcker 1951–1958. Trans. Brita Edfelt. Stockholm: P. A. Norstedt & Söners Förlag.

  • Mazierska Ewa 2011. European Cinema and Intertextuality: History Memory and Politics. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

  • Mazierska Ewa 2014. ‘The Meaning of History and the Use of Translation in News from Ideological Antiquity – Marx/Eisenstein/The Capital (Video 2008) by Alexander Kluge’. – Ewa Mazierska Lars Kristensen (eds.) Marx at the Movies: Revisiting History Theory and Practice. Basingstoke: Palgrave MacMillan 244–266.

  • Narine Neil 2010. ‘Global Trauma and Narrative Cinema’. – Theory Culture & Society 27 4 119–145.

  • Nilsson Sven; Yrild Rolf 1972. ‘Per Olov Enquist: Legionärerna (1968)’. – Sven Nilsson Rolf Yrild (eds.) Svensk litteratur i kritik och debatt 1957–1970. Stockholm: Bokförlaget Prisma 211.

  • Östberg Kjell 2008. ‘Sweden and the Long “1969”: Break of Continuity’. – Scandinavian Journal of History 33 4 339–352.

  • Schildt Jurgen 1970. ‘Baltutlämningen – ett kallt och skakande vittnesbörd’. – Aftonbladet 1 October.

  • Schiller Hans 1970a. ‘En mosaik av småbitar’. – Svenska Dagbladet 7 July.

  • Schiller Hans 1970b. ‘Vår brist på förståelse’. – Svenska Dagbladet 1 October.

  • Schiller Hans 1978. ‘Baltutlämningen brännbar film... men saknar ett ställningstagande’. – Svenska Dagbladet 14 January.

  • Seidensticker Edward G. 1972. ‘Introduction’. – Yasunari Kawabata The Master of Go. Trans. Edward G. Seidensticker. New York: Alfred A. Knoff v–viii.

  • Seierstad Åsne 2018. ‘Ett svenskt trauma’. – P. O. Enquist Legionärerna. Stockholm: Norstedt 7–11.

  • Sima Jonas 1970. ‘Utmärkt filmsort – för TV’. – Expressen 1 October.

  • Sjöström H. 1969. ‘Politisk roman’. – Vår kyrka 3 17.

  • Stawonius Betty 1969. ‘Baltutlämningen på film. En dokumentär skildring’. – Dagens Nyheter 4 November.

  • Svedgård Lars 1970. ‘Så gick det till när balterna utlämnades’. – Expressen 30 June.

  • Tansley Laura; Maftei Micaela 2015. ‘Pathways to Determining Form’. – Laura Tansley Micaela Maftei (eds.) Writing Creative Non-Fiction: Determining the Form. Canterbury: Gylphi 1–18.

  • Thurah Thomas 2002. Så hvad er et menneske. Tre kapitaler om P.O. Enquist Peer Hultberg og Jan Kjærstad. København: Samleren.

  • Torchin Leshu 2006. ‘Ravished Armenia: Visual Media Humanitarian Advocacy and the Formation of Witnessing Publics’. – American Anthropologist 108 1 214–220.

  • Torchin Leshu 2012. Creating the Witness: Documenting Genocide on Film Video and the Internet. Minneapolis London: University of Minnesota Press.

  • Uisk Ahto 1968. ‘Baltutlämningen en tagg i det svenska samvetet’. – Arbetaren 2 September.

  • Unger Gunnar 1968. ‘Sovjetunionen äreräddad’. – Svenska Dagbladet 2 September.

  • Vinberg Björn 1970. ‘SF har inte råd med Bergenstråhle’. – Aftonbladet 21 November.

  • Walker Janet 2001. ‘Trauma Cinema: False Memories and True Experience’. – Screen 42 2 211–216.

  • Walker Janet 2005. Trauma Cinema: Documenting Incest and the Holocaust. Berkeley: University of California Press.

  • Zetterström Margareta 1970. ‘“Det finns ingen helgonlik objektivitet”. En studie i Per Olov Enquists Legionärerna’. – Bonniers Litterära Magasin 39 524–532.

Search
Journal information
Metrics
All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 0 0 0
Full Text Views 110 110 10
PDF Downloads 84 84 8