The Crown Princess of Sweden attended the Auschwitz memorial service yesterday, along with dignitaries and survivors. However, Crown Princess Victoria seemed taken aback when one reporter asked about her grandfather’s “Nazi” past during an interview as she stood next to two Auschwitz survivors.
According to the Local, Crown Princess Victoria was at the event, along with the Speaker of Sweden’s parliament, Urban Ahlin. The memorial took place at the site of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camps in Poland. However, as the Daily Mail reports, the Crown Princess Victoria was swept aback as a reporter for Swedish public service channel Sveriges Television asked if the Crown Princess had “considered the family history.” The reporter goes on to clarify that “there are relatives further back who were Nazi supporters.”
The question was alluding to the fact that Crown Princess Victoria’s grandfather, Walther Sommerlath, had joined the National Socialist German Workers’ Party (NSDAP), more commonly known as the Nazi Party, as an expatriate in Brazil in 1934. In addition to subscribing to the Nazi party, the Daily Mail reports that Sommerlath was also accused of “taking part in the ‘aryanisation’ of Jewish-owned businesses in Germany, after buying a metal engineering plant in Berlin from a Jewish engineer for a knock-down price in 1939.”
This isn’t the first time the “Nazi” past has been brought up in Sweden’s royal family. In fact, Queen Silvia has publicly apologized for her father’s actions, noting she did not know about the Nazi party affiliation until she became an adult.
When Sommerlath’s Nazi ties were brought up at the Auschwitz memorial, Crown Princess Victoria did not address the question, instead she simply stared down the reporter as she noted how “horrifying” Nazism was during one of humanities worst times in history.
“Nazism is something horrifying and it is one of humanities worst histories. It is a long history. We have a lot of information and one can take part of that if one so wishes.”
Though the reporter was quick to point out the royal family’s ties to the Nazis, it is also important to note that on Crown Princess Victoria’s opposite side of the family, Count Bernadotte, is responsible for the negotiation of the release of 31,000 prisoners of Nazi concentration camps.
“On the opposite side of the family tree is diplomat Folke Bernadotte, King Carl XVI Gustav’s godfather and his father’s cousin. During the Second World War, Count Bernadotte negotiated the release of about 31,000 prisoners from German concentration camps, including 450 Danish Jews from Theresienstadt.”
The Royal head of press, Margareta Thorgren, wondered exactly what the point of the question was, as the Crown Princess was standing next to two Holocaust survivors.
“You wonder what the point was. In this instance, the Crown Princess was standing with two elderly people, survivors of the Holocaust.”
What do you think of the reporter’s line of questioning to the Crown Princess of Sweden? Was the Auschwitz memorial an appropriate time to bring up such lurid details from the family’s past considering the Crown Princess has family members on both sides of the issue?