Swedish Government Apologizes to Baltic States for its Failure to Recognize Communist Crimes

The Swedish government recently apologized to its Baltic neighbors for its previous whitewashing of Communist atrocities in the region:

Sweden owes its Baltic neighbours a “debt of honour” for turning a blind eye to post-war Soviet occupation, Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt told his counterparts on Monday. During a ceremony in Stockholm attended by the prime ministers of Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia, Reinfeldt spoke of “a dark moment” in his country’s history.

“Sweden was among the first countries to recognise the Soviet occupation of the Baltic countries” in 1944, he said at a celebration marking the 20th anniversary of the three countries’ independence….

“For decades, Sweden did not acknowledge Baltic suffering,” the conservative prime minister said.

“I hold in my hand a Swedish school book used during the 1980s. It makes no mention at all of the destiny of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania after the Second World War. Not one word,” Reinfeldt said.

“In fact, it is hard to find any reference to the fact that there had ever been any Baltic countries. This was the reality when I went to school,” the 46-year-old leader said.

“Sweden has a debt of honour to the people of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. We owe it to ourselves — and we owe it to the Baltic peoples — to remember the past, but also to build a common future,” he added.

Soviet repression in the Baltic states went far beyond merely ending their independence. For example, they killed some 3% of Estonia’s population and imprisoned or deported several times that number. Latvia and Lithuania didn’t fare much better. The Swedish government deserves credit for recognizing its errors and striving to correct them. Unfortunately, this is just one small step towards rectifying the broader neglect of communist crimes that still persists in many countries.