Former neo-Nazis visit Yad Vashem

Sunday, June 08, 2008 |  staff writer

A Swedish delegation of students and teachers came to Israel to present findings of their research of the stories of Holocaust victims from their hometown of Karlstad.

The visit was part of a larger project called Combating Social Unrest, an initiative of a Swedish Holocaust educator Christer Mattsson who aims at bringing troubled youths off the streets and combat prejudice and ignorance. There are approximately 100 youths in the program and a small percentage of whom were defined as “hard core.”

"The first time I took a neo-Nazi to Auschwitz, I didn't know what to expect," he said. "But after seeing it, after seeing where Jews used to live, he said: "I can no longer deny it happened, or salute what happened."

Through this initiative, the teenager’s lives have changed. One of the youths said he learned a lot about the Holocaust and “I have a different perspective on life now.”

Sweden remained a neutral country during World War II and closed its doors to Jewish refugees. There were a number of Jewish women who died during the Holocaust in their Swedish hometown and Mattsson takes his students to their graves to keep the truth of the Holocaust alive.

That truth will now be made known through the students’ work they left behind at Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial.

"It is slightly unreal to be here today and handing over material that we have worked with for so long, knowing that it will be here at Yad Vashem for always," said 17- year-old Jennifer Lindstrom.

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