The Enerström Case: A disgrace for Swedish democracy

A Disgrace to Swedish Democracy

An open letter to the Minister of Justice, Gun Hellsvik

By Britt Arenander, June 1992

Translation, Britt Arenander, September 2002.




Britt Arenander wrote this letter to the Swedish Minister of Justice, Gun Hellsvik, in June 1992. The original letter was published under the title "En skamfläck för svensk demokrati". The author has been so kind as to translate her letter to Gun Hellsvik into English for publishing in the NCHR's English Article section, for our English speaking readers to see what parents in Sweden, in general, and dissidents in particular, are being subjected to for the past decades.


Britt Arenander is a well-known author, translator, former press officer at the Secretariat of the Swedish section of Amnesty International and former international secretary of the Swedish PEN Club.


NCHR's comments:

Ulf Enerström took his life more than ten years ago, but the letter is well worth reading as a historical document. People are still committing suicide because of harassment by the authorities. On April 5, 2002, former prosecutor Stefan Holmlin, took his life after being accused by his ex-wife in a custody case in 1998, of sexually abusing his step-daughter. 






Since the mid 70s a violation of democracy persists in Sweden which concerns all citizens and which hardly anybody wishes to discuss. This, despite a change of regime, alterations to the Social Democratic leadership, and the extensive coming to terms with totalitarianism that the western world has seen following the fall of communism in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe.


But in Sweden the anti-democratic forces Alf Enerström and Gio Petré clashed with in 1974 have still not been called to account. Yet these clashes resulted in unparalleled persecution, victimization and slander campaigns over more than fifteen years. And as long as the Enerström/Petré case has not been publicly investigated there will continue to be something rotten in the kingdom of Sweden.


Because the E/P case has a long history and many people have had access to only the distorted view disseminated by the establishment in order to shield the truth, a short summary is justified:


·   Until 1974, Enerström/Petré were loyal and appreciated members of the Swedish Social Democratic Party (SAP), rendering the party a number of favours without the slightest thought of reward. Indeed, when doctor Enerström was offered the post of director of the National Board of Health and Welfare, after Bror Rexed, he declined. He was content working as company physician at a cooperative enterprise in Värmland and participate in the political arena as not more than a committed citizen.


·   The conflict between E/P and the then leader of the SAP, Olof Palme, started when the Women's Organization of the SAP, commenting on a proposal made by the abortion committee in 1974, argued that there ought to be no time limit on free abortion. It should be possible to have an abortion as late as the ninth month of pregnancy! Olof Palme was in favour of this idea. E/P were, upset by and opposed it. Although the Social Democratic Women's Organization were later to publicly deny ever having put forth this recommendation, parliamentary record 93 dated 29th of May, 1974, shows indisputably that the then chairwoman of the Women's Organization, Lisa Mattson, pleaded in favour of no-timescale abortion: ” ... It is, nonetheless, a fact that we wished to go much further than the proposed law. In our comment on the proposal from the abortion committee we did, of course, emphasize that it is the woman, and only the woman, who shall decide whether she wants to continue a pregnancy or not, but we also thought that there should be no time limit whatsoever.” (My italics.)


·   The support of the SAP leadership for free abortion with no time limit was only the first signal to E/P that something was wrong within their party. They discovered a number of other alarming phenomena which they challenged publicly, for example the so-called exemption law of 1974. Grotesque in a democratic society, this was a deep and treacherous breach of the Swedish judicial system, granting 5 000 high-ranking bureaucrats complete immunity from prosecution. Enerström/Petré were the first to inform the public of the existence of the exemption law. Not until many years later did the Swedish press take an interest but by then the Council of Europe had already urged the Swedish government to abolish the law. E/P also called attention to the anti-democratic laws which the then Social Democratic party leadership were proposing to push through, had they not lost the elections in 1976. Freedom of expression and the right to demonstrate were both to be eliminated from the constitution, making it possible for a simple decision in a parliament with a Social Democratic majority to effectively cancel them out.


·   To give an account of all the harassments to which E/P have been subjected throughout the years would call for a whole book revealing a terrifying dictatorial machinery operating covertly. The first blow dealt to the couple was the compulsory removal and confinement to care of Alf Enerström's son from an earlier marriage. This dirty task was carried out by the Social Democratic chairman of the social welfare board, and Enerström was told bluntly that he would get his son back if he stopped agitating against the party leadership and kept a low profile.


·   Such revolting blackmail proved to be counterproductive: E/P merely intensified their efforts to inform the public of the dictatorial tendencies currently in force within SAP, under the direction of Olof Palme. Next, Enerström was sacked from his job as company physician of the Värmland cooperative. When a union representative handed in a petition in protest he was exhorted to throw it into the waste basket. In order to crush the couple financially, illegal measures were then taken to prevent Doctor Enerström from running a private medical practice. When this manoeuvre was unsuccessful Gio Petré's film company, which she had inherited from her late husband, producer Lorens Marmstedt, was forced into bankruptcy because of a trumped up tax debt. In 1986, the Supreme Court declared the bankruptcy unfounded, but this verdict was not reported in the press. The media had for years anyway allowed itself to be directed by the establishment -- accusing E/P of all sorts of shady economical transactions, while, naturally, denying them the right to defend themselves.


·   Meanwhile, tens of thousands of so called ordinary people continued to support E/P by sending money to them so the couple could go on publishing their advertisements in the dwindling number of newspapers still accepting them. A new attempt at breaking E/P was made when the assets in their postal giro account were confiscated, on the mendacious pretext  that Alf Enerström now also owed outstanding taxes.


·   On top of these harassments -- already enough to devastate anybody else -- the couple and their four children lived in constant fear: on two occasions there were outright attempts made on their lives. It was a dangerous time to defend democracy in Sweden in the 70s and 80s. But although E/P could have moved abroad, to escape the nightmare, they chose to stay and resist from within.


In order to sort out this disgrace to the Swedish democracy once and for all, the government ought to appoint a commission to examine the abuses perpetrated against Alf Enerström and Gio Petré over the years. Faith in justice is, as we all know, seriously faltering; the appointment of such a commission would be a decisive step towards restoring it.



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Demand for compensation for the victims of the social services

Spectre of children's Gulag haunts Sweden


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