"... The pronounced Swedish inclination to keep order bore strange fruit. A German refugee who stayed in Norway in the 1930s, fled to Sweden when Norway was occupied in 1940. He was arrested in Sweden and the encounter with the police there differed a lot from what he was used to from the Norwegian police. "What I supposed was meant to be a routine series of questions and answers, ended with my being arrested. My declarations did not seem to satisfy the officers. The examination was repeated during the following days. (...) The cell was so clean, it shined. It literally smelled as if it had been sterilized..."
"... The aim of internment was to assimilate these people into a pattern that fit in with the ideal conception of a typical Swede, from the perspective of the Swedish authorities. There were two camps, the one at Långmora and another at Smedsbo, where different categories of deviates were placed. As Jörg Lindner (1994) has underscored in a path breaking article, the Swedish authorities were less concerned about the internee’s political viewpoint. What made internment necessary was that these people were homosexuals, kleptomaniacs, alcoholics, fathers who did not pay alimony and child support, or people who seemed to shy away from the work-world, etc. In addition to these deviances, many were either social democrats or communists. In fact, both camps were reformatories and the people who were interned in them were disciplined in order to adopt the Swedish norms and values. The camps were almost what Erving Goffman (1961) and Michel Foucault (1977) referred to as total institutions. They made use of four techniques in their efforts to change individual behaviour: 1. The rules of order in the camps deprived the internees of all distinguishing personal marks of identity. The individuality of internees was simply not allowed. As in all total institutions, the inmates had to wear uniforms and cut their hair to prescribed lengths and styles, etc. The German refugees who were interned in the Swedish camps felt that they were being treated unjustly by Swedish authorities. "We are punished, but we have not been informed about what we are accused of (). This is a form of treatment that even criminals are able to avoid." German refugees were systematically degraded, discriminated against, disciplined and punished. There were body searches, a ban on correspondence and visits, and the routine subjection to a degrading regimen. In addition to the camp leader and his staff, there were uniformed and armed guards patrolling the camp grounds. 2. Rigorous time schedules were enforced. The internees were to learn how to live an ordered life that was synchronised to ideal Swedish time patterns. 3. A work regime was established in order to habituate the internees to the (supposed) expectations found in the Swedish work-world. What we might identify as German eggheads were to be transformed into hard-working lumbermen, and this sometimes meant being required to cut wood at – 30oC. 4. Work behaviour and work results were keenly monitored and reported. The idea was to document the individual internee’s progression according to prescribed plans, and to correct unintended deviations from those plans by systematic observation and record-keeping. The internee’s progress in cutting wood was written down on paper designed for logarithmic calculations..."
A Comparative Look at Scandinavian Cultures: Denmark, Norway and Sweden and Their Encounters with German Refugees, 1933-1940