Tuesday, 1 March 2011

In Memory Of…


Yesterday, 28 February, Sweden commemorated the death of our prime minister Olof Palme who was murdered 25 years ago in a street in central Stockholm. On his way home from the cinema late at night together with his wife, he was shot in the back at close range. The crime still remains unsolved.

Palme, born 1927, was the leader of the Swedish Social Democratic Party from 1969 until his assassination in 1986. He was prime minister between 1969-1976 and again from 1982 until his death. He also played a role in international politics. As politician he was praised by some while detested by others.

The red rose is the symbol of the Social Democratic Party, so through the years there have been many red roses laid down on the spot where he was murdered and on his grave.

… … …

I was 30 years old. I had been living less than two months in the town where I still live today. 28 February must have been a Friday; because I first heard the news of the murder on the radio in the morning of what must have been a Saturday; because I was going away/’home’ for the weekend to visit my parents (who then lived about 100 km away). My mother’s birthday was the 20th but we must have postponed the family celebration another week for some reason. What I do remember is the bus ride of two hours or so, looking out of the window and seeing all the flags on half-mast, and trying to take in the news I had just heard.

Photo from Wikipedia

That’s really all I remember. I can no longer recall what anyone had to say about it just afterwards. Neither in my family, nor at my place of work, nor among my friends. What has stayed with me is the visual memory of sitting on the bus, looking out of the window, and seeing all the flags on half-mast that morning, 1st March, 1986.


  1. PS. Just realized something which I was not consciously aware of while writing. My post in the Picture Book today refers to 1968. This one, to 1986. How odd.

  2. It is always an indelible moment in time when a leader of a country dies or is assassinated.

    I remember exactly what I was doing when John F. Kennedy was assassinated, and the speechless shock of seeing Kennedy's assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald, being shot as he was being transferred to another location.

  3. Goodness. I know when our president JFK was assinated, to this day people ask "Where were you?" when you heard. the same with John Lennon for some reason. Glad his wife was not shot as well!

  4. An unsolved crime...I'm thinking there was little or no protection for your PM back then? Of course, Sweden has different sensibilities. My cousin's wonderful wife, Stina, has given me a vision of Sweden that is pretty profound. But you have your troubles as do the rest of us. You just sound more enlightened.

  5. I am sorry to hear this and this is a great tribute to his memory. we went through the same thing back in the 60's many years before this happened, so I can relate. THEY said they solved the crime but many of us believe they did not

  6. When John F Kennedy was murdered I was only 8 years old, I know I learned of it when it happened but have no specific personal memory to connect it with. The same with Martin Luther King. And John Lennon. I know I watched the news but not connected to anything special in my own life with any of them. - In 2003 our minister of foreign affairs, another Social Democrat, Anna Lind, was also murdered, in a shopping mall. She was stabbed to death on 10th Sept and died on 11th September 2003. (So exactly two years after the World Trade Center attack in NY.) Her murderer was caught and convicted though.
    Olof Palme was not accompanied by security guards around the clock and neither was Anna Lind. Our country has not been at war for 200 years which probably makes a difference for how risk factors are calculated, I suppose.

  7. I think it says a huge amount about a country when it's PM can wander around without protection. That would be unthinkable in many countries for reasons of national security never mind the life of the individual.


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