While Sweden continues to ponder the fate of returning Daesh terrorists, Tobias Hübinette, an associate professor of Karlstad University, drew similarities with Swedish SS soldiers who went largely unpunished after WWII. According to him, Sweden now has to “eat up” the historic mistakes it committed during that era.
According to Tobias Hübinette, an associate professor of Karlstad University, there are clear parallels between Daesh returnees and SS soldiers: both were in their 20s and acquired wives and families abroad, and the Swedish-born Nazis posed a similar ethical problem for their homeland after the war.
“The parallels are very clear. We have met this problem before”, Tobias Hübinette told the daily newspaper Svenska Dagbladet.
During World War II, around 200 Swedes joined the SS and fought for Nazi Germany. After the end of the war, a similar debate flared up in Sweden over whether to help the soldiers return home or bring them to justice instead.
“Europe was in ruins, as are parts of the Middle East now. The SS soldiers were also about as old as today’s ‘Daesh travellers’, in their 20s. So there are great similarities”, Hübinette said.
According to him, the similarities don’t end in joining a murderous organisation, but also include escaping with little or no punishment whatsoever. Most Daesh returnees who have committed crimes are likely to escape, just as most SS-men who took part in the Holocaust managed to, Hübinette said.
According to him, while some Swedish Nazi volunteers died in battle and others fled to various countries, those who wanted to return home managed it just fine. Unlike in neighbouring countries, the Swedish authorities have never worked up the nerve to throw the book at SS soldiers.
“The last [Swedish Nazis] came back in the late 1940s. Then the Swedish state and the Foreign Ministry helped them home because they were Swedish citizens,” Hübinette said.
Once home, the SS soldiers were interrogated, but proving their crimes was notoriously difficult, Mats Dealnd, an associate professor of history at Mid Sweden University, explained. According to him, only a few individuals were put on trial, unlike, say, in Norway and Denmark, where local SS soldiers were prosecuted for treason.
“The same is happening with Daesh Swedes. Most who have committed crimes are likely to escape, just as most of those who took part in the Holocaust did”, Deland said.
Tobias Hübinette emphasised another similarity between the two groups — the children.
“Many SS soldiers returned home with wives and children who were not Swedes. Many of the Daesh travellers have also had children with foreign persons. So here you have another parallel”, Hübinette said.
According to Hübinette, Sweden should have learned its lesson after World War II, but the state is still at a loss over how to handle its own citizen’s war crimes.
“Now we are eating up the mistakes committed back then. It’s a rude awakening because we have no experience to rely upon”, Hübinette explained.
Over the past weeks, Sweden has been embroiled in a heated debate over what to do with about 100 jihadists with Swedish citizenship who are now stuck in the Middle East. The debate has yielded an array of opinions, ranging from prosecuting them in Sweden or arranging an international tribunal in the Middle East to taking them back for rehabilitation. Sweden’s mainstream media has fuelled the debate by running several personal stories on “repentant” terrorists and stranded Daesh brides and widows with children.
The Waffen-SS was the armed wing of the Nazi Party’s SS organisation, which included men from Nazi Germany, along with volunteers and conscripts from both occupied and unoccupied lands. At the height of WWII the SS had a force of about 1 million men.