Third of teenagers deny Holocaust

4th July 1997 at 01:00
SWEDEN. A third of Swedish 12 to 18-year-olds do not believe the Nazis' extermination of the Jews ever occurred, 11 per cent say that mixing races is "a crime against the laws of nature" and one in 10 believes that it is unnatural for people of different races to have children together.

These attitudes, revealed by a survey of 7,927 pupils at 120 schools in 60 towns, caused a visibly shaken Prime Minister Goran Persson to demand that Sweden immediately and firmly fight increasing racism.

"You can hear shouts of Sieg Heil on Swedish streets," Mr Persson told the Riksdagen, the Swedish parliament. "We can't turn a deaf ear to it." He pledged that information about the Holocaust and the ideology behind it would be sent to parents of all sixth-form college pupils during the autumn.

Former concentration camp prisoner Jerzy Einhorn, a teacher and politician, was shocked by the survey's results.

"I thought it would take more than 50 years to forget the extermination of six million Jews," he said.

The survey was carried out by Professor Anders Lange and researchers Stephane Bruchfeld and Helene Loow, of the Centre for Research in International Migration and Ethnic Relations at the University of Stockholm, for the child and youth section of the ministry of the interior.

It also found that 12 per cent say the Jews have too much influence in the world today, 17 per cent of young Swedes have had contact with racist organisations, 12 per cent have listened to racist music and 8 per cent have read racist magazines - which cannot be bought openly. Balancing these figures, 42 per cent of those asked have been in contact with anti-racist organisations.

"The survey's findings don't mean that the young people share the opinions of the magazines or records," said Ms Loow. "But considering that the records and magazines are distributed via underground networks, I find it disturbing that so many young people have had contact with them."

One in four of those questioned would not allow mosques to be built in Sweden and 34 per cent agreed that non-European immigrants should be sent back to the countries of origin.

Three per cent of the young Swedes had been abused because of their origins - about 5.5 per cent of the total population are immigrants. Twenty per cent of non-European immigrant boys said they had been badly treated by their teachers.

"It must be due to statistical error margins, or perhaps they haven't understood the questions," one Stockholm student said. "Are there really that many racists in Sweden?" Sixth-grade pupils (11 and 12-year-olds) had fewer racist attitudes than the older pupils - presumably because they have more friends and schoolmates with non-European backgrounds.

According to the survey, 14 per cent of the girls and 32 per cent of the boys agreed with the statement that "homosexual men get HIV and Aids as punishment for an unnatural way of life".

Only 47 per cent believe that democracy is the best form of government for Sweden.

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