Until the fall of the Berlin Wall, Sweden was a targeted country for East German infiltration and espionage. A special target group for these exercises were Swedish teachers, who were the recipients of a special indoctrination program. This took place within the framework of official cooperation and was a way for the East German Communist Party to achieve recognition of the DDR by foreign governments.
Using sources from German archives and interviews with the invovled parties, Anders Törnvall has written the report Swedish Teachers in the DDR – A Study of a Stasi Project. The report surveys the DDR’s goal of and experience with Swedish courses and the educational exchange with Sweden after its recognition of East Germany in 1972.
The DDR no longer exists, but its methods are extremely relevant today to a large degree. It is important for the future to learn about this case and what happens when dictators try to infiltrate Sweden.
– All dictators infiltrate different countries largely in the same way, by using a mixture of economics, culture, education and politics. We can learn a lesson from the DDR’s work with Swedish schools and universities in order to avoid repeated interactions with dictators. The DDR fell, but not all dictatorships do after only 50 years, said Törnvall.
– Continuing to reveal dictators’ infiltration in our country is to prevent a repeat of previous events, which are occurring in places other than the former DDR, said Mats Johansson, the Stockholm Free World Forum’s founder and president.
Anders Törnvall is professor emeritus in intercultural communication at Mälardalen University in Västerås and a docent in education at Linköping University. He has lectured for many years on multicultural leadership at businesses and schools in Sweden and other countries, as well as published many books on the subject.