Olof Palme murder/Sky documentary

Watched a four-part documentary on this over the last few days and find it absolutely fascinating. It was called The Man Who Played With Fire.

Guess the angle I found most interesting was that it’s based on an archive of files that the writer Stieg Larsson left when he died, and he’d spent years investigating it in his spare time, as well as years tracking and mapping right-wing extremists in Sweden, which is kind of cool.

The guy who took the investigation on is called Jan Stocklassa and I really liked him. Dunno, just quite an intense but nerdy dude who you could tell had a real passion for the subject.

Guess it’s a pretty famous case, but for those who’ve not heard of it, Palme was a very leftwing Swedish PM of the 70s and 80s. He was shot and killed in the street in 1986 and it has never really been solved.

Get the impression it still has quite a big bearing on the psyche of the Swedish public, idk. Would be interested to hear from anyone with first hand experience of the feeling around the events living in Sweden either at the time or since.

I think there’s been a film about it as well, and one of two other (pretty bad) documentaries. I think the conclusion this one comes to - that it was probably a conspiracy between the South African government and Swedish extremists - makes a lot of sense, but I did feel like some of the documentary could have possibly been embellished, idk, might be wrong.

Anyone seen it, or read about the case?

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I remember being vexed enough about it to mention him in one of my o level English coursework pieces.

I only got a b so I suspect I’m not an expert


Or… maybe you’re a suspect :thinking:


I wouldn’t put it past me


On the 20 or so occasions I’ve sat and talked with Lisbeth Palme (Olof’s wife, also shot in the same incident by the same assassin) it’s taken all my willpower to avoid asking questions about that night. Sadly she’s no longer with us & I regret not taking the chance

The 2012 film ‘Palme’ is a must watch. There are two versions: the cinematic release which is 103 minutes & the extended version of 175 minutes which was shown in 3 parts on Swedish TV

All 3 parts of the extended version are on Youtube but there are unfortunately no English subtitles available on parts 1 & 3 for some bizarre reason

He had a lot of enemies tbh, there’s even theories that British intelligence was involved in his assassination and I guess we’ll never know the truth

I saw in the film in the cinema and the reaction of the audience to the film afterwards was so bizarre & something I’ll never forget. The film finishes with footage of the eulogy at his memorial in 1986 from a young politician who was one of his protégés - Anna Lindh. Anna Lindh was herself stabbed multiple times in a Stockholm department store and died on September 11th 2003, in the midst of a referendum on Sweden adopting the Euro. She was Sweden’s Foreign Minister at the time. Her grave was about 200m from the cinema we saw the film in. Everyone left the place in silence and once we got out onto the street the whole audience - all 300 or so of us - just stood there not knowing what to do for about 10 minutes or so before slowly dispersing, some of us to the churchyard where Anna’s grave sits opposite a plot filled with victims of the 2004 boxing day tsunami

All this uncanniness was made even more uncanny for me for several other reasons that I won’t go into here but yeah… there is still such a shellshock among Swedes - especially Stockholmers - about the Palme murder as it’s such a small place really and you’re never more than 3 degrees of separation from anyone

And then Chernobyl happened just 9 weeks after Palme was murdered. If you think living in the UK during the cold war ‘Threads’ anxiety period was dark… ask any Swede (especially Baltic & Finnish Swedes) what it was like to live in Sweden, on the doorstep of the Soviet Union, at that time. Off the charts trauma. Important to note is just how many people in Sweden and abroad (the Americans HATED him), before his assasination thought that Palme was either under the influence of the Soviet Union or was about to ally with them.

There’s also less than a decade between Palme’s murder and the sinking of the MS Estonia - with several conspiracy theories connecting the two events as a continuum of military espionage activity & tit-for-tat across the latter years of the cold war. And given that 852 people died in that disaster everyone who lived in Stockholm at that time knew someone who lost someone. The school my wife went to lost half a dozen teachers.

Confusing & dark times those years

this has turned into an incoherent ramble, ask me some questions if you have any specific ones & I’ll try & provide answers


Our very own ghostboy has done an episode on this, as well: https://www.patreon.com/posts/62-olof-palme-1-83222574

Not listened to it yet, however.


Came into the thread to say “ghostboy did it!”

This is an incredible post, and not incoherent in the slightest. It’s great to hear such a lucid account of the period.

A few questions off the bat…

  • Was there anything in the feeling that he was about to take Sweden into an allyship with the Soviets, or was this generally right-wing misinformation? What would’ve been within his remit as Prime Minister?

  • What was the feeling in Sweden after the 2020 press conference and the fingering of Engstrom as the murderer? What other logical arguments are there beyond massive stitch-up? Was the timing of this at all linked to the Stocklassa investigation as was implied, or were they using a bit of artistic licence there?

  • Is there anything credible to any of the Chilean, Kurdish, or Indian theories?

In hindsight I think it was a Red Scare tactic - Palme was always more aligned with classic socialist redistribution of wealth than straight ideological anti-capitalism, he came from a very wealthy & privileged family and was mentored by Tage Erlander who was very much in the Aneurin Bevan mould of prioritising universal rights to the most vulnerable in order to lift up the whole society.

That said, Palme was very much opposed to the prevailing Thatcher/Reaganomics and of course was the (at times the only) dissenting western voice on the international stage when it came to condemning the apartheid regime in South Africa & offering government properties & resources to the ANC to give them credibility as a legitimate Government-in-exile was extremely controversial …as of course were Sweden’s actions in the event of Pinochet’s coup in Chile (though many of these actions were taken unilaterally by the Swedish ambassador in Santiago Harald Edelstam … another must watch film exists about that episode)

So in East v West tussles (of which there were many in the 60s, 70s & 80s) his opposition to the US-UK axis led many to naturally conclude he was a tool of ‘the enemy’

In a word: apathy… probably anticlimax too. Much like the JFK assasination in the US there are people who’ve built careers looking at every possible angle & there are people who just shrug and there are people who avoid the whole thing and just carry it around like a hard, small pit in their stomach - everyone has heard every possible theory and most people just accept that the truth will never out.

I don’t really know about the significance of the timing but I doubt very much it was linked to the Stocklassa stuff

It’s so hard to parse from the point of view of 2023. Like I said, Palme’s pronouncements and criticisms of politics on the international stage and his support of so many dissident groups & communities made him a lot of enemies. Could have been anyone

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Yeah, this is really good

Yeah, I stayed up until the early hours listening to it and was late for work this morning.

The guy who hosts it has a really good way of making quite complex things sound really simple.

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This is a wonderfully written post

cheers, it was just a bit late & I was tired when posting so didn’t really know if came across

yeah, not sure about some of his Swedish pronunciations mind :wink: