Thema:	 60,000 sterilizations or 1% of the population (fwd)
Datum:	19.11.97 18:59:36 MEZ
From: (Gregor Wolbring)
To: (Adolf Ratzka)
CC: (Adolf Ratzka), 100726.141@CompuServe.COM (Agnes Fletcher), AWIGHTFELSKE@MTROYAL.AB.CA,, (Andrew George Jakymiw), (Prof. Anne M. Donnellan), (andrea schein), (adcole),, (Young, William), (mike),, (Brydon Gombay),,,, (Catherine Frazee), (Laurie Beachell),, (Cohen, Pam),, (Doris Cook), (Alejandro Argumedo), (David Wetherow & Faye Buchanan), (dis coal), (Derksen Jim), Dick.Sobsey@UAlberta.CA (Dick Sobsey), (William McQueen), (Stephen N. Drake), (Fiona Miller), (Florianne Koechlin), (Gabler Georg), (Gavin Bamber), (Hans Goerl), GTAY4290@URIACC.URI.EDU (Gordon Taylor),,,, 76043.2757@CompuServe.COM, (John Hof), (infocentrum),,, (J Fitzgerald and M Bussey), (QAI), BICKENBA@QUCDN.QueensU.CA (Bickenbach), (jbadner), (Judy Morrison), (Norman Kunc), (Lars Lindberg),, (Lew Boles), (linda hill),, (Louise Vandelac), 100117.1063@CompuServe.COM (Ludger Wess),, (Maria Barile), (Rita Marker),,, (melinda jones),,, (MS),, (Christopher Newell),, (Ottmar Miles-Paul),, (David Reist), (Bob Rogow), ronald@uhunix1.its.Hawaii.Edu (Ronald A Amundson),, rjschell@MUSCATINE.K12.IA.US (Rudy Schellekens), (Ruth Ricker),, (Sara Georgeson), (T.Shakespeare), (Spinal Injuries Association), (Gates/Brown), sroberts@EDU.YorkU.CA (Susan Roberts),,, (Degener Theresia),,, (Valerie J Bradley),,, (VOLKER SCHOENWIESE), (Wendy L Armstrong),,,

Hi everybody,
 Adolf from the independent living centre in Stockholm asked
me to send his article

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Wed, 19 Nov 1997 18:43:30 +0100
From: Adolf Ratzka 
To: Gregor Wolbring 
Subject: 60,000 sterilizations or 1% of the population

Dear Gregor,
sorry for replying that late to your messages. I was unable to write any
earlier. But the latest message on forced sterilizations in Sweden urges
me to reply. It just so happened that I was asked for a Japanese journal
on special education to write a brief article on the subject. Could I
ask you to, please, spread it to your news group. You could add a line
that this article and others on the general subject of Independent
Living can be found on the website of the Institute on Independent
Living,  URL

Recht herzlichen Dank im voraus. Ich werde Dir hoffentlich bald
ausführlich antworten.

Herzliche Grüße 

Adolf Ratzka

Eradication of “deviants”: the dark side of the Swedish Model

The world was shocked by the recent news of a skeleton in Sweden’s
closet, the country’s forced sterilization policy of disabled people and
others who were not found to be worthy to have children. The facts are
clear, there is no reason to question the authencity of the
sterilization records. Sources other than Dagens Nyheter, the nation’s
largest daily newspaper that recently started the sterilization
discussion, as well as researchers are confirming the facts. Also,
Sweden is famous for its comprehensive statistics. Thus, all
sterilizations records and “patient” journals are archived and available
to researcchers and journalists. Persons who were sterilized against
their will have come out of their silence and appeared in the media. The
steriizations were fully legal according to the laws of the time. There
were well-developed and state-regulated routines with medical experts at
the local and national level, the Ministry of Health and Welfare, with a
panel of highly placed representatives of political parties (mainly
female Social Democrats including an ambassador to the United Nations)
who signed the decisions that would deprive tens of thousands of persons
of one of the most basic human rights, the right to have children. 

The motives? Discussion and practice of eugenics, the effort to
“improve” a nation’s genetic material, started shortly after the turn of
the century. In recent years, scientific advances are improving the
means to detect “subnormal” embryos as candidates for legal abortions
and have opened up the possibility of genetic manipulation. In short,
the tendency to value quality of life as measured in biological terms is
still very much alive and even on the increase throughout the West.

During the period between the end of WW I and the end of WW II there
existed an additional factor that favored the “biologistic” outlook on
life: racism and nationalism. These ideologies received the greatest
support during fascism in Germany, Italy, Spain and Japan. But fascism
as an ideological movement was influential in many other countries. It
is an established fact that Sweden and other Nordic countries had
friendly relations with Nazi Germany up until and in some cases even
after the outbreak of WW II.  Many of the nationalistic and racist
thoughts and programs that Hitler Germany stood for were also popular in
Sweden. For example, it was at the request of Swedish immigration
authorities that German authorities stamped the letter “J”  (for Jew) in
the passports of Jews. Some historians claim that the Swedish Medical
Association lobbied for a reduction of Jewish immigration in this way,
fearing competition from the influx of Jewish immigrants many of whom
were professionals including medical doctors.

Already in the 1920s Sweden established the State Institute for Race
Biology that was to operate until the 1950s. State institutions, such as
this institute, party ideologists and leading politicians formulated the
sterilization programs in an attempt to improve the nation’s genetic
material by insuring that citizens who were considered to be
“insufficient”, “imbecil”, “deviant” and “a burden to society” would not
have children. The legal base to this practice was passed by parliament
in true democratic fashion.

While eugenic motives played a role in the sterilizations, economic
aspects were also important. When child allowances  -  monthly payments
to families for each child, administered by the tax-funded national
social insurance scheme  -  were introduced in the 1950s, the number of
forced sterilizations of the “undesirable” part of the population
The Swedish concept of the “people’s home”, formulated in the 1930s and
the most influential  vision in Swedish politics, was based on the ideal
of a closely-knit, homogenous society  -  similar to a family -  where
all members would support each other. Each one would contribute
according to one’s abilities and would receive according to one’s
needs.  The folkhem - as the concept is called in Swedish -  was to
become the foundation of decades of peaceful labor relations,
far-reaching social reforms and unprecedented economic growth. 

The dark side to this model was the harsh demand for conformity. People
who did not correspond to the ideal of this new society were not
welcome. For example,  a recent newspaper article reported the case of a
girl in her late teens who in the late 1940s was sterilized against her
will. The justification given in her journal was the comment that she
had often been seen hanging around the town’s dancing hall. 

Another contributing factor why these “legal” human rights violations
were tolerated and supported by so many for so long -  60,000 persons
were sterilized or about 1per cent of the average total population
during these years -  was probably the absence of a court to investigate
the constitutionality of new laws. Sweden has never had a revolution and
the state and its administration have enjoyed a trust that many foreign
observers find astounding. There were no perceived reasons for the
necessity of an elaborate system of checks and balances as in other
countries. Thus, in a country with a relative homgeneous population,
without separation of State and Church, with strong traditions of
collectivism and consensus decisions, majority rule in parliament has
been considered to be a sufficient guarantee to pass laws in the
nation’s best interest.

In recent weeks European newspapers carried accounts of forced
sterilization in other countries, such as Finalnd, Norway, Denmark,
Austria and Belgium. But the fact that in Sweden more persons were
sterilized, on a per capita basis, than in other countries is hard to
understand both in Sweden and abroad. Perhaps it has to do with the
image that Swedes have of themselves and that they want to spread:
Sweden, the peaceful nation, neutral, unafraid to point at violations of
human rights in other parts of the world, a country of advanced social
reforms, where citizens enjoy a high and guaranteed level of public
services in education, health and  social welfare. 

During the last decade Sweden has been changing. When Prime Minister
Olof Palme was murdered in the street, the nation was shocked. Such a
crime had been unimaginable in their country. Since then Sweden has
changed to a degree that many older persons say they do not recognize
their country anymore. Incrasing globalization of the economy, the
entrance requirements to the European Monetary Union (to start in 1999)
and a long-drawn recession have forced the government to carry out
painful cuts in tax-funded programs in order to reduce public spending
to the level of other OECD countries in an effort to improve the
country’s competitive standing. Soon, Sweden’s social policy will not
materially differ from that of other European countries. 

Soon, Sweden will not be what it used to be. Perhaps the forced
sterilization disclosure gives us reasons to doubt whether it had ever
been what it used to be.

Adolf D Razka, Ph.D.
Institute on Independent Living

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Date: Wed, 19 Nov 1997 10:51:09 -0700 (MST)
From: Gregor Wolbring 
To: Adolf Ratzka 
Cc: Adolf Ratzka ,
        Agnes Fletcher <100726.141@CompuServe.COM>, AWIGHTFELSKE@MTROYAL.AB.CA,, Andrew George Jakymiw ,
        "Prof. Anne M. Donnellan" ,
        andrea schein , adcole ,, "Young, William" ,
        mike ,,
        Brydon Gombay ,,,,
        Catherine Frazee , Laurie Beachell ,, "Cohen, Pam" ,, Doris Cook ,
        Alejandro Argumedo ,
        David Wetherow & Faye Buchanan ,
        dis coal , Derksen Jim ,
        Dick Sobsey ,
        William McQueen ,
        "Stephen N. Drake" ,
        Fiona Miller ,
        Florianne Koechlin ,
        Gabler Georg ,
        Gavin Bamber ,
        Hans Goerl ,
        Gordon Taylor ,,,,
        76043.2757@CompuServe.COM, John Hof ,
        infocentrum ,,,
        J Fitzgerald and M Bussey ,
        QAI , Bickenbach ,
        jbadner , Judy Morrison ,
        Norman Kunc ,
        Lars Lindberg ,,
        Lew Boles , linda hill ,, Louise Vandelac ,
        Ludger Wess <100117.1063@CompuServe.COM>,,
        Maria Barile , Rita Marker ,,,
        melinda jones ,,,
        MS ,,
        Christopher Newell ,,
        Ottmar Miles-Paul ,,
        David Reist , Bob Rogow ,
        Ronald A Amundson ,,
        Rudy Schellekens ,
        Ruth Ricker ,,
        Sara Georgeson ,
        "T.Shakespeare" ,
        Spinal Injuries Association ,
        Gates/Brown ,
        Susan Roberts ,,,
        Degener Theresia ,,,
        Valerie J Bradley ,,, VOLKER SCHOENWIESE ,
        Wendy  L Armstrong ,,,
Subject: 60,000 sterilizations or 1% of the population (fwd)
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