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A Swedish tiger

In 2002, the Beredskapsmuseet Foundation received the copyright to the work A Swedish Tiger from the artist Bertil Almqvist's daughters Åsa and Christina as a gift to the museum operations, whose wish was that the  work be preserved with its correct history for posterity through the Foundation's care. The Foundation undertook the responsibility to preserve the history of the image and the Foundation also undertook the responsibility to act in case of misuse of the work. Questions about the use of the work should be sent to Andrée Advokatbyrå, which handles all licensing issues and possible infringements of the rights to the work, which is also a registered trademark.

The Preparedness Museum's store sells exclusive products with En Svensk Tiger via mail order and in the museum shop at the museum. 

The history of "A Swedish Tiger"

At the outbreak of the Second World War in September 1939, changes were required in both social organization and everyday life. Sweden must take into account the political and military situation in the world. In order to rule the country together, a coalition government was appointed in December 1939. An apolitical diplomat, Christian Günther, was appointed as foreign minister. The right-wing leader Gösta Bagge, also minister of state and minister of ecclesiastical affairs in the unity government, explained the situation in the following way in a speech on 1 May 1940 at Gärdet in Stockholm:

"We have curled up like hedgehogs with thorns in all directions. Even large animals tend to shy away from attacking such a thing unnecessarily. We can defend ourselves and we will do so.”

On 6 September 1939, the so-called three-man committee was appointed by the Royal Maj. The board's task was to function as the state's body for information. The State Information Agency was established on the proposal of the three-man committee on September 15, 1939. The Swedish Advertising Association offered its services to the information agency in connection with possible propaganda campaigns. The advertising association was already consulted in the autumn of 1939 by the information agency in connection with a silence campaign. The campaign was considered necessary, above all because of all the outspoken military personnel who, according to the board, revealed more than could be considered healthy for Sweden. The silence campaign took place in the late autumn of 1939 with a blue-and-yellow poster as the main advertising pillar.

The State Information Board, SIS, replaced the Three-member Committee and the Information Bureau by the Royal Maj't's decision on 26 January 1940. Instruction for the agency (SFS 60/1940) was issued on the same day and entered into force on 1 February 1940.  SIS' task was to inform, review, map and control Swedish opinion formation and to some extent also public opinion. SIS belonged to the Foreign Ministry.

In 1941, Sweden was surrounded by belligerent and occupied states. Neutrality was vulnerable. An out-of-date word could damage relations and create an involuntary involvement in the war, something that the Swedish unity government sought to avoid with all available means. Again the issue of outspokenness was brought up. 

The Deputy Chief of the Defense Staff sent a secret letter to the Chief of the SIS on 6 May 1941. The Defense Staff requested a new campaign of silence similar to that of 1939 and wanted help with the campaign from the SIS. This time the main intention was to inform the civilian population. A draft campaign was attached from the defense staff with suggestions on how a vigilance campaign could be carried out.

The day after the Defense Staff's letter, 7 May 1941, the SIS advertising council met. The Defense Staff's letter and memo were discussed. The Advertising Council decided that a broad advertising campaign was necessary to achieve a satisfactory result.

SIS sent a proposal for a vigilance campaign to the Chief of the Defense Staff on 27 June 1941.  The proposal had been prepared by the SIS publicity council and submitted to SIS on 17 June. SIS pointed out that the measures would be aimed primarily at the public and at the conscripts. At the same time, SIS drew the attention of the Defense Staff to careless statements by defense employees. SIS believed that the Vigilance campaign would be educational for the public at the same time as it linked to the positive propaganda of Swedishness that would also be carried out by SIS. SIS also pointed out that extra funding was needed for the Vigilance Campaign and wanted the Defense Staff to apply for funds from the King. May on behalf of SIS. It was pointed out from SIS that the Defense Staff's first proposal for a campaign did not come into question if the campaign was to be realized.

The Advertising Council's proposal was to process both civilians and military, which in turn were expected to influence each other. The campaign was intended to last for seven weeks.

The Advertising Council met on 6 October 1941 and then discussed the new situation that had arisen regarding the Vigilance campaign. It emerged that Defense Minister Per Edvin Sköld was not satisfied with the Advertising Council's proposal from 17 June. The government wanted a reworking of the proposal into a campaign of the nature of "general confidence propaganda" for the state authorities.

On October 29, 1941, the draft advertisements prepared for the Vigilance Campaign were preferred. There is no mention of who was appointed as the ad signer. BertilA told the following story in the daily press about his submitted proposal, a picture of a blue and yellow-striped tiger with the text "A Swedish Tiger": When submitting the proposal, the blue-yellow tiger was met with delight. A thoughtful soldier said thoughtfully, "Shouldn't that be a lion?" The proposal with "A SWEDISH TIGER", the Prate family, the spy doing puzzles and other images was approved by the Advertising Council and by the co-opted military members.

On 14 November 1941 it was decided by Royal May that SIS received 300,000 kroner for the Vigilance Campaign, of which 15,000 was to be disposed of by the Defense Staff through SIS.

The vigilance campaign started on 21 November 1941 through a press conference and a radio address by history professor Sven Tunberg, SIS chairman 1940-44. The speech ended with the words 

"Keep quiet about what you know - keep quiet about what you don't know - thus becomes the double watchword of our sentence. Be on your guard against anything called a chatterbox. Don't help the spy solve the puzzle - Guard your country.”

The morning papers were filled with editorials about the campaign, in which the importance of keeping quiet was strongly emphasized. Advertisements and information about the importance of keeping quiet about important matters were everywhere. The blue and yellow striped tiger spread to cafes, train compartments, restaurants, businesses, staff quarters, on the back of all military enlistment books, on suitcases, stationery and envelopes and even in homes as embroidery. "A SWEDISH TIGER" became a symbol for the entire campaign and a strong memory for everyone who experienced Sweden during the preparedness.

On December 17, 1941, all the afternoon newspapers received a letter from SIS in which ÖB urged the armed forces to be vigilant. ÖB informed about the vigilance campaign and its purpose. The brochure "The Catechism of Silence" was presented and a picture from the Catechism of Silence drawn by BertilA was attached to the press release as a cliché. On December 31, 1941, the invoice from Esselte included costs for 50,000 copies of the poster "A Swedish Tiger", 300,000 luggage tags with "A Swedish Tiger" and 250,000 copies of the brochure "The Catechism of Silence".

On March 31, 1942, the first report of the Vigilance Campaign's costs came. The report was divided into three sections; advertisements, military propaganda and posters. The advertisements included advertising costs according to the expenditure table. The military propaganda included payment to BertilA as well as costs for printing and postage. The posters included payment to the artists BertilA, Nils Ameck, Hubert Lärn, Georg Lagerstedt, Rit-Ola (Olsson-Garland) and Gunnar Lindvall as well as printing costs for the posters. On 31 May 1942, a final cost table of the SIS vigilance campaign was compiled. The cost table was based on verifications registered in a cash table from 31 December 1941. According to the cost table, BertilA received 760 kroner for military propaganda and 300 kroner for posters. The payer was SIS.

BertilA used the tiger in "På Tapeten" on six occasions during the years 1941–1943.  "På Tapeten" was BertilA's page in Aftonbladet where he reported on current events with the help of texts and drawings. In December 1942, BertilA created a new variant of "A Swedish Tiger", the so-called tiger pin. The pin was issued through Sweden's Landstormsföreningar Centralförbund for the benefit of Landstormspojkarnas activities. 

The newspaper Landstormsmannen reported that the tiger needle brought in approximately 6,000 kroner for the Landstormspojkarnas' activities. The needle cost the customer 50 öre. The Landstorm boys received 15 öre per pre-sold tiger pin.

On June 30, 1945, SIS ceased operations by the King's Maj't's decision on June 29, 1945. The Department of Public Economy took over the required information tasks in rationing and crisis issues regarding public finances. SIS's other missions were completely discontinued. The SIS library was taken over by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. SIS archives are stored in the National Archives.

On February 24, 2022, another war broke out in Europe. The Preparedness Museum has produced an image that is allowed to be shared on social media, i.e. on Twitter, Facebook, etc., by private individuals. The image that can be shared has an added text to make the message clear: Feel free to talk, but not about Defence!





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