Ett främmande element i nationen : Svensk flyktingpolitik och de judiska flyktingarna 1938−1944

Sammanfattning: The aim is to increase our understanding of the mechanisms of social categorization and discrimination, as well as the connection between them. This has been accomplished by examining Swedish refugee policy towards Jewish refugees during the Second World War and the Holocaust, as conducted by The Foreigner’s Bureau of the National Board of Health and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs during 1938−1944. The study also compares the Swedish refugee policy with that of Denmark, Switzerland, Great Britain and the United States. The investigation is guided by such concepts as social categorization, discrimination, antisemitism, organizational culture and established practice. The primary sources are documents, minutes and personal dossiers; Svensk författningssamling (legislation) and articles in Sociala Meddelanden (the National Board’s official journal).The main conclusions are that Sweden was not perceived as a country of immigration, based partly of the widespread fear that too many Jewish refugees would create a “Jewish Question”. Swedish authorities discriminated against Jewish refugees on grounds of “race” through a process of categorization. This process began already in the 1920’s, and gradually transformed the definition of “Jew” from a religious to a “racial” definition, based on the Nuremberg Laws. The differentiation of Jewish refugees in official statistics ceased in September 1943, yet it continued secretly until February 1944, encompassing the Norwegian and Danish Jews as well. One important result shows that the shift in policy – from discrimination to large scale reception – was a slow process where this differentiating practice and antisemitic perceptions remained operative. What is defined as an antisemitic background bustle is used to explain how moderate antisemitic expressions were perceived as “unbiased” and “normal” within the Swedish society. Though Sweden’s refugee policy seems similar to that of other countries surveyed, the shift in policy stands out as unique in comparison.