Queen Silvia of Sweden has, for the first time since 2002, openly spoken about her father’s membership of the Nazi Party (NSDAP). The Queen said it was “a big shock” when she found out.
In honour of her 75th birthday, the Queen of Sweden has given interviews to several Swedish newspapers, magazines and tv channels. One of them is an interview with the Swedish tv channel SVT1: “Drottning Silvia 75 år”. In the documentary, the Queen has spoken for the first time since the revelation about the scandal of her father’s membership of the Nazi Party (NSDAP) in Germany.
In 2002, the Swedish newspaper Arbetaren revealed that Queen Silvia’s father, Walther Sommerlath had been a member of the NSDAP (Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei) of Adolf Hitler and the nazis. Her father had died twelve years earlier on the 21st of October 1990. During his life, he had always denied being a member of that party.
Queen Silvia said the revelation was “very close and a great shock”. The Queen didn’t believe the rumours at first, but “when I got to see the evidence in black and white, I had to accept it.” Walter Sommerlath became a member of the NSDAP in 1934. At the age of 19, he had left Germany for Brazil but returned with his wife Alice in 1937. Queen Silvia tells in the interview that she believes her father returned as he felt that there was hope again for his country.
Queen Silvia revealed she has long struggled with these facts. She said: “I’m not trying to detract from the fact that he had become a member. But you may have to think ‘ Why did he do it? “He and many others did not know what would happen after. Had he known, I don’t believe he would have become a member.”
After the news came out, Queen Silvia wanted to get to the bottom of it. The Queen reveals she has more than 20 binders of documents she researched step by step. “I’ve done everything that I could,” said Queen Silvia. No evidence has been found that her father was an active member of the NSDAP.
Out of the research it also became clear that Walther Sommerlath traded his coffee plantation in Brazil for the German firm of a Jewish man named Ernst Wechsler upon returning to Germany. Mr Wechsler was to lose his firm according to the new laws and wasn’t allowed to travel with money either. Mr Wechsler and his family fled to Brazil thanks to the deal with Mr Sommerlath. Researcher Erik Norberg concluded in his report that Mr Wechsler received good money from Walther Sommerlath for his company in Germany. The story of Erik Norberg was published on the website of the Swedish Royal Court in 2011.
Queen Silvia has now become at ease with these hard facts. “It’s been 30 years since he died so now I think it is enough. I want to say to the Swedish people that I am at ease with it. I know that my dad is not the person that people have created him to be,” said Queen Silvia.
Queen Silvia was born on the 23rd of December 1943 in Heidelberg, Germany. Her parents, Walther and Alice Sommerlath returned to Brazil in 1947 where the family lived for the next ten years.
The documentary “Drottning Silvia 75 år” will be broadcasted on SVT1 on Monday 17th of December at 8 pm.