Political Censorship in Sweden: The Elusive Hitler Biography

Censorship can be carried out in a heavy-handed manner, which is all-too-obvious and yields you a bad reputation on the world stage. A much more subtle approach is underhanded censorship. Here is what recently happened in lovely Sweden when I wanted to get my hands on Joachim Fest’s Hitler biography.

Let me start by reminding you that taxation is through the roof in Sweden. In return, you get a few benefits. Sorry, I meant to say that you get few benefits. Over the last 12 months, I have paid the equivalent several tens of thousands of dollars in taxes, and I have not even stepped foot once in a hospital or made use of any other government-provided services. What I do, though, is borrowing books from the local university library. One benefit here in Sweden is that members of the public can borrow from those without a fee. It’s amazing what an effective tax rate of more than 50% buys you!

As I browse the university’s online catalog, I notice that the German edition of Fest’s Hitler biography is available in the system. I think that this is great and send off a loan request. A mere two working days later, I get a response by some dutiful woman working at the library telling me that they unfortunately cannot source that book for me because it is not related to any of the courses they currently teach, but — note the passive-aggressive twist! — if I am able to point them a literature list of a current course that contains this very book, they would happily do so. If you now think that this excuse seems plausible enough, you should also know that I received books from them that are not on any of their reading lists either, such as Nicholas Eberstadt’s Men Without Work, which I got through an inter-library loan. Thus, they told me a bunch of bullshit.

The next stop is the public library system. Saying myself that this is worth a shot, I once again open my web browser and get going. I am stoked when I find out that they have one copy of it. It’s in the vault. There are no requests. It’s not on loan either, so I can expect to receive it within two to three working days. I think this is great and for a moment I think that it’s nice to get something in return for your tax contributions.

I withdraw into my cave and spend two days and nights shit-posting online. That is until I receive an email notification from the public library. They are telling me that there was an unfortunate error in their system. They do not actually have Feist’s Hitler biography. It’s in their system, but not physically available in their vault. Thus, they have reported it as missing. They also regretted to inform me that this was the only copy they had, which means that they had to cancel my request.

I chuckled when I read this because this is quite absurd. I can understand if a book gets stolen from an easily accessible shelf, but a book that is kept in a vault that is only accessible to employees does not just go missing. I see only two plausible options. One is that one of their employees stole it. Surely, there are a lot of Swedes who are fluent in German and have a deep interest in Nazi Germany. No, wait, that can’t be right. The number of Swedes who are fluent in German is absolutely minuscule, so that option is statistically highly unlikely. Yet, there is a Swedish demographic that is a lot bigger than the German-speaking one, it’s those righteous leftists who get triggered by everything. The public sector is brimming with them. Thus, option two, namely that one of those snowflakes saw my request, located the book, and simply trashed it, is a lot more plausible. It’s great that my tax contibutions are used to pay the salary of such people.

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