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In Stockholm I am interviewing a lady who may be a Swede and may not be. She is fru or Mrs. Dowey Hale born her husband is president of a publishing company in Sweden and she herself is director of the Sperry Americas details and the Sweden America Foundation. She is also president of the American Women's Club. I say I don't know Fru Heyerdahl born whether you are a Swede or an American. Which are you. Well that's hard to say. I've been an American and I am a Swede. It's as you want it. I was born in the United States in New York and moved to Sweden with my parents when I was 11 and I've lived here since then but I've been back many times. Were you born of Swedish parents.
Mother was a virus descent but born in the United States and dad had arrived in America when he was 4 years old with his parents and possible and that you are an Irishman. Well my son says I'm 25 percent or even 50 percent Irish I don't know I was through hell born as director of the Sweden America Foundation. What are your activities what does the foundation do. Our main activity ever since 1919 man we were established has been to exchange students between Sweden and the United States. We exchange about 200 students that we send from Sweden about 200 students a year and about 100 students come over to us from America. What is the inspiration of the foundation and why do you want to exchange students between Sweden and the United States. The Foundation was started about in 1919 by a group of Swedish businessmen and industrial. The heads who
wanted to who felt that during the last war we didn't know enough about the United States and the United States didn't know enough about us here in Sweden and they wanted a foundation to exchange people they seem to feel that I was the most important way of getting to understand each other. And for her unborn will you tell me what the Swedes who have not been to America think of America. So large that's a large order I know. It's a very difficult question I'm afraid and it's quite dangerous to answer it because you might not like to like the answer at all. Well you know as a as a former American and there's a an honorary citizen I suppose I should say that we Americans can take a lot of punishment.
Well you know you tell us yourselves what you what we should think about you. You write such books as The Grapes of Wrath Of Mice and Men. A number of other books telling about things in America when we read them over here. Well can you blame us if we over here think oh that is America. And after all they're bestsellers in America so you must like them yourselves and they become bestsellers here. Then you send us all the films films showing nightlife and everything. I suppose we all here would come to believe that I was ordinary American Life which I know it isn't. And these blokes I know are wonderful books but they're not ordinary American living. I wish you'd send us other films and I wish at times you would write other books and write other films that we could see the very ordinary American home how children are brought up how Housewives run their homes and what a home is like.
We like that very much. You mean the books films. And I suppose magazines and even newspapers which emphasize the seamy or the sensational side of American life do not really represent American living as you know it. And yet these these are the means by which Swedes and I suppose other Europeans get the impression they have of America. Yes I think that so I think usually that American books American films speak in much louder tones than American culture does than American art music literature does as a rule. And. Do you think that the Swedes are better behaved as a people than the way
Americans are portrayed in what comes over here in the way of books and films and so on. And I know this is a double barreled question and do you think that the Swedes are actually a better behaved people than the Americans. Well you are being very difficult professor. I think that here in Sweden we hurry slowly if you know what I mean. We think perhaps a little more before we talk. We used to have a little softer tone. But after all the same people have lived in this country for so long it may be quite natural. But I think once we'd get over to America they acquire something that for them is very very valuable. I think that a Swede studies for so long so seriously and so hard with just that in mind that when he gets over to America
undiscovered as that over there they study hard too. But they play at the same time. I think a Swede ought to learn how to play and he does when he's over in the United States. He comes back he has all his knowledge with him. He's learned a lot in the United States but in a way he seems to be have a lighter feeling about everything and more. And I say what shall I call it a happier way of working a happier way of being serious if you know what I mean. I must say the Swedes by and large whom I have met here in Sweden are a pretty sober. Perhaps I shouldn't use that word a pretty sorry lot. I don't know how sober they are. What do the Swedes who come to America think about our melting pot. This must be the most sensational of all their impressions I
would suppose and Sweden is so homogeneous racially and nationally. I think when they get to America what strikes them as being unpleasant to them and hard to understand is that the negro question. And I've always wanted Americans coming over to Sweden and Swedes going to the United States to have in their hand something written about what has happened in the Negro Question During the past 20 years how America has tried to solve it and slowly is succeeding in solving it. I'd like them to have in their hands when they come over to Sweden because Swedes are apt to think of the only things they can think about to criticize which is perhaps that question and I think Americans come up coming over here should have something. I don't want to say defend themselves because it isn't like that but should have something
to answer such a question in case it is given or in case it is expressed are the Swedes free themselves of religious and racial prejudice. That's hard to answer because we've really had no possibilities of knowing how we would act here in Sweden if we had such a problem. We had no such problem. Well I'm not sure what we would do about it. You do have minorities though do you not. But as I'm thinking for example though you don't you do not have a racial minority. No I don't think you can say that but you do have religious minorities do you not. I'm thinking primarily of the Roman Catholics who constitute I suppose a very small proportion of the Swedes. I happen to be one but I've never felt that I was less free
than anybody else or that I don't suppose I can become the prime minister but I don't think I would anyway. But otherwise it seems to me that there's nothing in regard to religion that would prevent you from doing anything you felt like doing except become a minister and some other religion. Yes it's interesting for me too to learn that you are a Roman Catholic because we think of Sweden and the northern countries of me as being protestant countries in which they're actually years. There actually exists some prejudice against religious minorities and especially against the very small minority of Catholics but you don't find that kind of prejudice. Comparable to the minority prejudices in America. I've never even thought of it so it must be very strong. That's enough I think of an answer to that question. Now what.
What mistakes. What mistakes do the Swedes who gone to America and come back here. What mistakes do they think we Americans make. You've spoken about the problem of the kind of art and literature that we send abroad of our racial problem. How do they feel about our politics. And especially I should suppose about our foreign politics our foreign policy. Well it seems that the majority of the Swedes are not very keen on being in the Atlantic pact. I couldn't understand it to begin with. I was very much for myself. But as time goes on and Sweden herself as much as she does it doesn't seem to me too bad especially as as far as I can see it. Maybe I'm biased I don't know but it seems to be most people are glad that
America is on the top of the world and that we can rely upon America to help Europe and to do what she's been doing now for the past years. And at the same time the Swedes do not wish to make a military alliance with the Americans why is that it sounds a bit like a contradiction for we are born. Maybe I don't know. I can't explain that except that I suppose if a country wants to do it all and try to give utmost M. in the military sense of the word. Perhaps they don't want to have some other country is just my own idea perhaps they wouldn't like some other country to come in and have. Offices walking around in military cars. Running around the streets. I'm not sure when I was down Denmark a week or so ago someone said oh yes there are new occupiers. That was the United States.
I didn't like that very much at all and I'm afraid perhaps small countries like theirs. As proud as they are unused to being standing on their own legs. They rather like to continue to do so not to be dictated to and perhaps people would be afraid that if America if we were in an Atlantic pact that people would dictate to us as saying Sweden is very apt to want to go our own way and do what she feels like herself. From Hell go on. You have here in Sweden now and you have had for a long time a social democratic government which is a I take it a semi socialist sort of government. Even now at the same time you have a constitutional monarchy. What do Swedish students who have visited America under your foundation of come back to Sweden think of the American economy of the American way.
We think a great deal of the Swedes as having found a sort of middle way. Well I think I could say that as a rule they come back and have a very great feeling for America and Americans some importance altogether in the world. But I think they do feel that in universities in industries. They met people who are just as democratic if I may use that word. As they want them to be as they hope America Hears and that I hope that this feeling this friendly a feeling among Senao professors and the students on. The big man and industry and their employees. They like that very much and hope that perhaps Sweden will. Come along the same way soon. I don't think it's quite as good in Sweden in that way as it is in America because this barrier you know OF SAYING THIS HOUR AND
YOU. In means quite a barrier I think more than we really think you mean in spite of your advance. For development of social democracy you feel that we are more democratic actually at home in America than you are in Sweden. I think so yes. Fru Heyerdahl born. What is the most to you the most interesting reaction to America that you think of that you have ever had from one of your Swedish students who has come back. Well there was a letter I got the other day when I got it when I was see that I felt that this was what a number of other people had been telling me though perhaps not in as in words as well chosen as the ones I read to you now because I brought that letter along with me. It's a girl who had been to America for a year and was coming back and she told me what she felt was most valuable she said
like this. What I find most valuable is that I think I have acquired some of the broad mindedness which one finds among American students that I've learned to appreciate opinions which I do not always share. And that my interest in subjects outside my field has increased. That seems to me to be one of the things that make our work such a happy and perhaps valuable work. Thank you for your work. Today in Stockholm I am interviewing frou and rustle of the Swedish royal labor board the counterpart of the United States Department of Labor through Russell is president of the Swedish business and
professional women and delegate of the Swedish government to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights. Throughout so I have looked in vain for the slums and tenements in Stockholm and for the beggars on the street. Where are they all. I don't think we have any hope of that kind at least not in the meaning you have it in other countries in other capitals in the world. But I do think you can find some poor people who are to our mind even here not obviously in the streets but starvation. You know for us what is it like inside Sweden. You should be a very happy little people. Well I think we are. We have lived in peace for about
one hundred and fifty years we are very lucky to have had the opportunity to do so. We have also had full employment for the last 17 years. I can say now that has given us the opportunities to plan our social policy. Perhaps the fact that you have full employment I wonder if you have even a shortage of employment is that right. Oh yes we have had a very great shortage the last years. The reason I ask that is that. It is a world famous phenomenon that the roads of Sweden the highways of Sweden are very bad now of course in countries like Germany where the highways are so good. We know that these were all public works designed by the government in order in this case the Nazi government in order to relieve the unemployment situation. I came to my own private
conclusion driving overy are extremely poor highways. That there simply were not enough men in Sweden for the building of roads. That's a correct conclusion professor. They are mostly or not. Many of them planned as unemployment and we have had a great shock as of late. What form does your planning take your social planning I observe in the room in which we are now speaking. A photograph of your king. And when we think of social planning we and America sometimes think of such a horrible prospects as socialism or even communism. But Sweden is a monarchy. What kind of what kind of economy do you have.
What do you mean in which respect. I mean do you have you speak of planning you say to those you have do you do a great deal of planning in Sudan is Sweden to this extent a socialist country. No we can't say so. Part of the Swedish. What do you call it labor market. Swedish employment field is socialized. For instance three ways to look at our telephone post and so on. But the English do use our private enterprise mostly and how much government control or regulation is there. We here in America are that for a long time we have heard that the Swedes have found a middle way between absolute free enterprise on the one hand and absolute socialism on the other. To what extent can you say as a government official is there government regulation of
free enterprise of for example the labor market wages hours profits. The working hours are regulated without 48 hours LOL. That is an international convention as you know. It is free and the price is regulated in the respect that if industries want to build factories they have to have permission to do it. That is due to our shortage of labor and by that shortage of material building material and to what extent is the government protests are paid in the relations between labor and management. Not at all not at all not at all. The bargaining is a question of relations between the employers and the workers. The trade union. We have a very strong and very well built up organizations both for the employers and for the trade unions and to what extent does the government participate
in the you know housing in the situation of women and of children. The housing is the house building used to regulate the has been rather many years now. I think it is about seven years. That is to say that if you want to build a private house or a house with apartments or in a factory you have to have a permission. When you talk about women and children I wonder if you mean the social policy that is to say all the arrangements with a notorious with the easier ways of shopping and so on. For a married women with home responsibilities. Yes. Is this is there government activity in this area or is this entirely private. All the day no serious belong to the scheme of child board or so for board and our community child board.
They planned a day no serious in cooperation with industry use and with trade unions and other people interested in it. Are these nurseries publicly supported. They have publicly supported by through government funds. No yes you can say so. Community funds or of state funds and how much how extensive is your health insurance. We have not compulsory health insurance. It's not regulated by law yet there is a plan but it's not. The law is accepted but not in function yet. Now we can belong to with certain plans health insurance plans which are supported by state by the state through taxation through taxation yes but membership in these funds is not compulsory and the physicians in Sweden
are independent private practitioners or do are they employees of the state. They can be both and can apply for a job in a state hospital or a community hospital or they can have private a private enterprise. And as your new program your new Health Insurance Program which is not yet in effect. Does it change this pattern. No it does not. No it will mean a greater number of community. Doctors in the gauge by the community or by the state but you can still have these private doctors through also. Do you find Sweden. A very lively place to live do you find it very lively to be a Swede. It seems to me as if things would be so
secure here and I'm not sure that in the modern world they are really secure. But up to now it sounds as if things have been so secure here that perhaps you Swedes are maybe a little bit outside of the outlet outside of the pace and the troubles away from the troubles of the rest of the world. Do you have any of that feeling. I haven't at all. I think we are very interested in the things that happens in other countries so I think our refugee policy shows that we are interested in these things and try to help other people. And there are also the kind of work we have done in other countries really factions and so on the Swedish people have really taken part in the work. And what do you think of your government's policy of neutrality in the present division between east and west in the world.
I mean as an individual I think the policy is the best one for the person as part of I can judge. And Swedish neutrality in the last war seemed also sensible to you. Do you think you can speak about the neutrality as a result of our clever negotiation or clever policy isn't it also that we had learned. I would guess that it was more luck than anything. I also and more than anything in the Danes and the Norwegian Eunice were are lucky. Yes they were. They planned the same neutrality as we did. Does this fact that you have been lucky. Make the Swedes feel on the one hand that they have a particular sense of responsibility in the world. All of us on the other
hand that they are really outside of the troubles of the world. Now I think the Swedish people have a feeling of responsibility because we have had the luck to be outside the world. None of the that is. You don't find yourselves smug at all as a result of being in the happy situation of being practically the one country in the world which has not known modern war. I have been thinking very much of that but I haven't found it. I think that everybody was so willing and so ready to take part in the rebuilding of Europe after the war so that proves that people were interested in fru Rosoff. What do you personally think of American foreign policy. It's a very wide field you are asking me about.
Let me ask you let me ask it this way. What would you like to tell Americans about America and the Americans are. Well I'm awfully sorry I don't know what you want me to talk about it. Again I say it's a bit wide question. I don't mean in the United States for three months as a delegate in the Commission on Human Rights. And I met a number of Americans asking about Europe and wondering how we do ours. What was surprising was that they thought that we live in fear every day and night and never could feel quite happy about it. I don't think we are so frightened as they believe we are.
Do you think you are as frightened as the Americans are. You know now for us all if you think that that last was a mean question here comes the meanest question of all through ask so I ask you this question in behalf of the whole of mankind why do Swedish policeman wear so ards. I don't know. I have wondered the same many times. Any guess let me say that I find this the most burning question that I have encountered and since I have been in Sweden I have been asked this question by a Japanese and by a Greek who are also visiting a sweet ride to Swedish policemen where so Arjun do you
think they should have guns instead of salt. Far from it. Far from I think so too. I'm glad to know that the Swedes also don't know why. I don't know. Thank you very much for us Will.
Voices of Europe
Ade_le Heilborn and Agda Rossel
Producing Organization
National Association of Educational Broadcasters
Contributing Organization
University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Episode Description
Interviews with Ade_le Heilborn and Agda Rossel. Topics covered relate to Sweden.
Series Description
Interviews with noted Europeans on a variety of subjects, conducted by Milton Mayer, American author and broadcaster, lecturer and professor in the Institute of Social Research at Frankfurt University.
Broadcast Date
Global Affairs
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Interviewee: Rossel, Agda
Interviewee: Heilborn, Ade_le
Interviewer: Mayer, Milton, 1908-1986
Producing Organization: National Association of Educational Broadcasters
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 52-37-44 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:29:12
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Chicago: “Voices of Europe; Ade_le Heilborn and Agda Rossel,” 1953-01-01, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed June 20, 2024,
MLA: “Voices of Europe; Ade_le Heilborn and Agda Rossel.” 1953-01-01. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. June 20, 2024. <>.
APA: Voices of Europe; Ade_le Heilborn and Agda Rossel. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from