False Flag Submarines in Sweden – the Olof Palme assassination

Whiskey on the Rocks in the Swedish archipelago (CC, Wikimedia)


This is part 2 of a commentary on the documentary film “Deception: The Reagan Method – Cold War in the Great North” by German director and journalist Dirk Pohlmann. (Link to part 1) The film was screened by the German/French channel ARTE in 2015, but has received undeservedly little attention since (except from the chief of the Swedish Navy, who held a lecture about the documentary to a select audience). Because of the timing of the documentary, during the intensified new Cold War with Russia after 2014, the explosive facts and interviews presented in it got even less broadcasting space than otherwise would have been the case.

This article uses extensive quotes from the documentary, not all of them clearly marked.

Palme – a man with enemies – background

Sweden had long been aligned with NATO, despite not being a member country. Already in the 1960s, Sweden was integrated in NATO’s war plans. Only hours after a world war would break out, Central Europe would, as the main battle ground, only be a pile of radioactive ashes. The plan was then for the US to use neutral Sweden as an air base against the Soviet Union, an unsinkable aircraft carrier. This was a common policy, agreed upon by all the major Swedish parties, including the Social Democrats, but was kept hidden from the Swedish population.

Sweden was a split society, a divide that got harder in the 1980s. The elected government had long been the Social Democratic Party. But the country had a very reactionary elite, in business, aristocracy and the military. This elite identifies very closely with Britain and the US.

From the US/NATO point of view, Olof Palme showed several problematic tendencies

NLF-demonstration against the Vietnam War. Minister Olof Palme (second from left) participates in the torchlight procession together with North Vietnam’s Moscow Ambassador Nguyen Tho Chan (far left). Both wearing fur caps.

even before he became prime minister. During the Vietnam War, he prominently joined peace demonstrations, walking together with the North-Vietnamese envoy. Already in 1972, Nixon called Palme «that Swedish asshole».

In 1980, Olof Palme, now Prime Minister, established the Independent Commission on Disarmament and Security Issues, also known as the Palme Commission. The Commission called for the demilitarization of space, the elimination of chemical arms from Europe, and the reduction of conventional weapons. The commission also advocated negotiations in Europe to reduce political tensions between the states and military blocs, to reduce the potential for military conflict.  This goes down very badly with the Reagan administration.

The curious Whiskey on the Rocks first submarine incident

On October 27, 1981, a Soviet submarine in the Whiskey-class got stranded in a fjord outside the Swedish naval base in Karlskrona, the infamous Whiskey on the Rocks incident. The documentary analyses the highly curious random movements the sub made before it got stuck. The fjord where the alleged spy sub ran aground is particularly unsuited for submarine activities, with only two feet of water under the keel. The Soviets would have been aware of this.

The sub also did some curious maneuvers after getting stuck. Instead of using proper procedures for getting off the reef, newly revealed camera footage in the documentary reveals the submarine seems to have used the propeller force to get even more stuck – making it much more visible.

The Swedish officer is charge of the first response states that he was not allowed by his own superiors to question all the relevant crew members, only a few select ones.

What really happened is still unclear almost 40 years later, but was it a real spy sub, an accident, treason, or did the Deception Committee play a part?

The pictures of the stranded Soviet sub go around the world, a PR-disaster for the Soviet  Union.

False Flag Submarines Sweden – The admirals commit treason against their own government

Now it gets interesting. A while after the grounding outside Karlskrona, a periscope and submarine tower is sighted outside the Swedish naval base of Muskö. The submarine makes no attempts at hiding its presence, and the Swedish navy begins a frenetic anti-submarine hunt. World media rushes in again, and gives this new chase wide coverage. But no submarine is discovered.

This pattern repeats itself several hundred times over the next few years. A submarine is spotted, but the chase gives no results. At the time, the government had begun several broad detente initiatives, like the Palme Commission, but because of all these sightings, the Prime Minister was instead forced to send angry protests to the Soviet ambassador. The ambassador’s answer? After conferring with home, he tells the Swedes: «We know they don’t belong to us, so we aren’t worried. But if you are so sure, please go ahead and bomb them!»

When the Swedish navy from time to time finds something and prepares to force the suspected submarine to surface, the chase is always cancelled at the last minute by direct orders from high-ranking Swedish admirals.

From a US/NATO point of view, these incidents are a major PR-success. The number of Swedes believing in a Soviet threat increases from 24% to 83%.

Mathias Mossberg, general secretary of the third Swedish government commission on the submarine incidents, concludes his interview as follows:

The Swedish public, the Swedish parliament and the Swedish government were taken for a ride. And Swedish media? In what kind of world are we really living?

Ambassador Pankin became the Soviet Union’s last foreign minister, under Gorbachev. He uses the opportunity to inquire if there really were any Soviet submarines in Swedish waters.

I asked defense minister Shaposhnikov and KGB-leader Batakin, officially and unofficially. I asked them to search their archives and find out if there were documents that confirmed we had crossed their border. I motivated them by making it clear that they were not bound. They were appointed by the new democratic leadership in the country, and did not have to hide their predecessors ‘skeletons in the closet’. And both gave me an official answer within two weeks. There were no documents, no evidence, pointing in that direction.

Ambassador Pankin finishes:

There is something that worries me a lot. That it even in such an enlightened, educated, European, Northern European country, a bastion for democracy, seemingly is simple, as it turned out, to fool the majority of the population, to zombify them.

Since 1983, there have been three Swedish inquiries into the submarine affair. The first inquiry concluded that there were Soviet submarines. The second concluded that one couldn’t prove it. A couple of years later, an interview with US Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger was published, where he clearly admitted the US had been involved. This forced the Swedish parliament to start a third inquiry.

Caspar Weinberger, US Secretary of Defense:

There was no testing of the Swedish defenses without prior consultation with the Swedes. You are speaking of an agreement.

Keith Speed, UK Navy Minister:

There might well have been penetrations of Swedish territorial waters; could submarines penetrate and emerge in Stockholm harbor? Not quite, but something similar. When I was minister, we had the Oberon and Porpoise-classes of submarine, our diesel submarines.

In clear language: The high command of the Swedish navy knew that NATO-submarines cruised in Swedish territorial waters. Why didn’t they inform their own government? And what role did the Americans and British play?

Mathias Mossberg, general secretary of the third inquiry, also said:

And these were the kind of things we had to fight with. …What we were dealing with, was a certain group who didn’t tell the whole truth to its own government, about what they knew, what had happened and what they had done.

They had made decisions with wide-reaching implications for Swedish security and foreign policy. Decisions made outside the democratic structures of the Swedish government. Then you have to ask yourself where you really are. In a country where the military conspires with a foreign power against their own prime minister?

(Ulf Svensson, Director for Security Policy in the Swedish Foreign Ministry):

The highest level of the military claimed this was the Eastern Bloc, Russian submarines, even when they knew it wasn’t. They should have been charged, legally. For the most serious crimes. For the worst of crimes. For having breached fundamental national interests. But in order to do this, the case would have to be airtight.

Documentary narration: In the meantime, new circumstantial evidence have emerged from the murky waters. The identity of the mysterious submarines is now largely established. Mini-subs and their so-called ‘mother ships’ were observed by witnesses. They saw 3 types of submarines. A large sub, that remained a bit away from the coast. In the brackish Baltic Sea, the submarine has less buoyancy than in the North Sea, which it was originally designed for. If it also carries two mini-subs, the buoyancy isn’t sufficient to let the vessel float. Therefore the air tanks have to be enlarged. And that is just what one can see in this photo. A provisional device of white air pipes and angel irons, protection against collision with the mini-subs.

And then there were two types of submarine closer to shore. There are very detailed descriptions of them in top-secret documents. The smaller one, 30 feet long, was teardrop-shaped. It had a window in front and a chute on top. And all this information is identical to an Italian submarine called 3GST9.

Drawings made by eye witnesses show the second type. A mini-submarine in the Cosmos-class. Characteristic is the foldable snorkel mast behind the tower, with an orb for satellite communication.

(Ola Tunander, Professor in Security Politics at PRIO):

When I talked to a top representative of the US Navy and asked him why all the information matched Italian submarines, and asked him why you used them, he answered ‘plausible deniability’. If it is an Italian submarine, then one doesn’t have any physical evidence leading to the US. So one can say: ‘yes, these Italian captains are very adventurous, you can never trust Italians.’

(the article continues under the picture)

Memorial Plaque in at the murder scene in Stockholm (BKP /CC BY-SA 3.0)

The Palme assassination

Many people involved in the political process believed the push for a peaceful and common European security policy again had a chance of succeeding. The Russians, at least, were very interested in getting something like that moving.

Palme planned a state visit to Moscow in 1986. The subjects: Common security policy and the submarines incidents. With the new leader Gorbachev, everything is possible.

Four weeks before the state visit, which might have been a breakthrough for Palme’s policy, he was murdered.

Gorbachev: I have no doubts that it was a political murder. A contract murder. Such a murder doesn’t happen by coincidence, no.

Question: Why do you believe it was a political assassination?

Gorbachev: If his vision had come true, it would have disturbed powerful interests. There are groups which are not interested in a better world.


The Swedish state channel SVT did purchase the documentary and had it translated into Swedish. On reply to a question, SVT said that they intended to send it «after the summer» 2016. It was to be followed by a critical comment by representatives of the Swedish Armed Forces, explaining the established line in the submarine issue and where they thought the documentary was wrong. In the end SVT cancelled the airing.

Dirk Pohlmann, despite his many previous documentaries, extensive knowledge in this area and undeniable journalistic talent, has not been contracted to make any new documentaries since. His most recent focus, documenting how the German-language part of Wikipedia is tightly controlled by a small clique of Wiki-editors who allow no dissent in certain political issues, and where critics of the pro-NATO line are thoroughly character assassinated similar to the Phillip Cross affair in Britain, is only published by the alternative press.

The documentary finishes:

Reagan laid the foundation for a gigantic expansion of special forces and the intelligence services. Today they have a budget of approximately 80 billion dollars. His Deception Committee was enormously successful. How often have his methods been copied? The Reagan method is now also known to the Russian leadership. And since then, at the latest, this method entails a high price.

That we all are paying.

There have been several earlier versions of the Deception Committee, most notably under president Eisenhower. Looking at today’s headlines, how many stories are NOT created by a modern counterpart?



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