How far back should we dig into someone's past? Ingvar Kamprad was an active Nazi. His name was in a Swedish Secret Service file in 1943. He saw himself as a part of the Fascist Neo-Swedish movement – after 1945. This is all revealed in a recent book written by the journalist Elisabeth Åsbrink.
But the most serious part of this story is not the fact that Kamprad, as told in Åsbrink's book, donated money to the Fascist movement in Sweden. Nor is it the fact that the established Fascist leader Per Engdahl made a speech in honor of the IKEA founder at his early 1950s wedding. The most disconcerting part of this story is that Ingvar Kamprad still, unto this day, applauds and pays tribute to his old friend.
To say, as Ingvar Kamprad does, that Per Engdahl "was a truly great human being" has nothing to do with the past. It is happening today. One of Sweden's greatest icons openly celebrates the front figure of Sweden's Fascist movement.
This is serious because it reveals that Ingvar Kamprad is incapable of seeing the very serious nature of Engdahl's political achievements.
When Mussolini came into power in Italy in 1922, then 13-year-old Per Engdahl had his first political epiphany. Engdahl became a Fascist. In 1928 he became involved in Sweden's Fascist organization SFKO. In the early 30s, he laid the ground for what would later be called the Neo-Swedish movement.
Per Engdahl was consistently number two in the struggle for first place among national groups fighting for attention during the 30s and 40s. In 1937, the Neo-Swedish movement joined the Swedish National Association, but the merger was unsuccessful. Instead, Engdahl formed the Swedish Opposition in the hopes of uniting the divided movement. But the project failed. After the end of World War II, the organization changed name and the Neo-Swedish Movement resurrected.
Per Engdahl was not a nationalistic socialist. To him, anticommunism, and the antidemocratic and Fascist project with Mussolini at the helm, were most important. For this reason, he was in conflict with many of the pure nationalistic socialists.
But Engdahl's attempts at distancing himself from nationalistic socialism did not stop him from expressing his support for Hitler in anti-Semitic diatribes in his newspaper. In 1942, he wrote: "An anticommunist movement can therefore not reach its goal if it is not simultaneously anti-Semitic."
This is one of many, many examples.
Unlike many of the nationalistic movement's key actors, Per Engdahl continued on his political path once the Second World War had ended. And according to Åsbrink's book, Ingvar Kamprad became one of his followers.
The Neo-Swedish movement with Per Engdahl was for decades one of the groups that kept the Swedish national movement's ideologies alive. And renewed them. During the 50s, Per Engdahl assumed a leading role in the formation of the Malmö Movement, in which the remnants of Hitler's and Mussolini's supporting troops from the Second World War joined forces. The Malmö Movement reworded the nationalistic socialist message. "Race" was replaced with "culture" and the anti-Semitism was toned down. This new tactic laid the ground for many of the far right groups that have been voted into parliament in several European countries.
The current Swedish Democrats can also be traced back to Per Engdahl. His new rhetoric helped form the party's predecessor, Bevara Sverige Svenskt (Keep Sweden Swedish). In addition, all members of the Neo-Swedish movement were invited to become members of Bevara Sverige Svenskt.
It is this man; an anti-Semite and a Fascist ideologue, that Ingvar Kamprad unreservedly applauds.
It is this man's political achievements that Ingvar Kamprad is unable to condemn.