The IKEA store at Kungens kurva in Stockholm. Ingvar Kamprad. Photo: Holger Ellgard, Wikimedia

New revelations on IKEA founder´s Nazi past

Sweden | 2011-08-23
In 1943 the Swedish Security Service initiates a personal file on a 17-year-old in the province of Småland: “Active Nazi. Party member. Recruiting members.” Today he is a global business leader and one of the wealthiest persons in the world.

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Tags: Ikea

That Ingvar Kamprad had a past as a Nazi sympathizer is not any news. But it has not been known that the security police during the WW2 set up a personal file on him and identified him as a Nazi.

This new fact is told in the book "Och i Wienerwald står träden kvar" (And in Wienerwald the trees remain) by the author Elisabeth Åsbrink, who also reveals additional facts about Kamprad's Nazi connections.

"It's a bit odd that Ingvar Kamprad has not himself been open about this. He has earlier said that he wants to speak on the matter and that he wants to apologize," says Elisabeth Åsbrink to the public broadcaster SVT.

Her book portrays the life of Otto Ullmann, who from Vienna came to Sweden with a transport of Jewish children, and was placed with the family Kamprad. There he became friends with the son in the house - Ingvar Kamprad - who was active in the far-right "Nysvenska rörelsen" (New Swedish Movement) and for a time also was highly active in the purely Nazi party "Svensk socialistisk samling" (Swedish Socialist Unity).

It is in this context that Elisabeth Åsbrink uncovers new and previously unknown facts about Kamprad's Nazi connections.

She describes how Kamprad's contacts with the New Swedish Movement and their leader Per Engdahl was not a temporary ‘teenage confusion’ during the years of Nazi victories, but that the relationship continued long after the war and Hitler's defeat, even when the full width of the Holocaust had became known to the world.

Per Engdahl was a guest at Kamprad’s wedding in 1950 and Kamprad wrote in a letter to Engdahl about how he was "proud to be part of the New Swedish circle."

At the same time, the Jewish refugee Otto Ullmann in those years was one of his closest friends and helped him to build the future global home products company IKEA.

Filed as Nazi

It was in 1943 that a personal file on Ingvar Kamprad was established by the predecessor to today's Swedish Security Service (SÄPO). He was filed as a Nazi, and his active membership in the Swedish Socialist Unity party and his recruiting of new members is described.

According to his own statements in a letter - which the police steamed up and read - he devoted much time and energy into recruiting new members to the Nazi party.

Ever since his former Nazi sympathies became publicly known in the 1990s, Ingvar Kamprad has described it as short period of teenage confusion that did not run very deep. He has stated that he had been more of a fascist than a Nazi, and that it was parts of the social model of fascism that had attracted him. But the new facts paints a slightly different picture.

The contradiction between the pure Nazi ideology of the Swedish Socialist Unity party and Per Engdahl's just fascist organization that Kamprad earlier has stressed, does not seem quite as huge when one examines documents from the period, according to Åsbrink.

Per Engdahl (1909-1994).

The party leader, Per Engdahl, writes in the movements contemporary journal that "the Jews are an alien element in the Western public body" and that "an anti-communist movement can never reach its goal if it’s not also anti-Semitic". In 1944, he describes Hitler as "Europe's saviour"

After the war, Engdahl distanced himself from the Nazi ideology and regime, but remained opposed to democracy and held on to fascist ideas.

Engdahl was also active in efforts to assist Danish and Norwegian Nazis to escape justice after the war, and was a central figure in connecting Europe’s far-right movements in the postwar period.

But for Ingvar Kamprad, Engdahl remains a great man. In an interview with Elisabeth Åsbrink in August last year he said:

“Per Engdahl was a great man, this I will maintain as long as I live.”


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