Some Danes say Swedes swiped booty 350 years ago. They want it back.





Stockholm | It’s hard to find anyplace in Europe today, even here in peaceable Sweden, where people aren’t squabbling over cultural property and the spoils of war. For some time, it turns out, a handful of nationalist Danes have been loudly barking about booty that the Swedes nabbed 350 years ago in a war with Denmark. The cache includes an ornate canopy from Kronborg Castle, of Hamlet lore, and recently people in Skane, a region in the south of Sweden that was ceded by Denmark in 1658 after losing the war, said they wanted the canopy handed over.

In other words, one part of Sweden claimed restitution from, well, the rest of Sweden. An Internet poll by a Swedish newspaper revealed that a majority of residents in the region apparently still harbor dreams of Danish citizenship and resent their calm, polite, democracy-loving Swedish masters. On Valentine’s Day, a Danish newspaper went so far as to run a front-page headline accusing Ikea, the furniture giant founded by a Swede, which Danes have long loved to hate, of “bullying Denmark” by giving comfy sofas and shiny tables Swedish and Norwegian place names while assigning Danish names to doormats and rugs....

Feeling guilty about my living room carpet, I decided to stop the other day into the Royal Armory here for a show called “War Booty” to see if the Swedes had anything to say for themselves. The exhibition ends up being a refresher course in history for an amnesiac nation that, having not fought a battle since losing Finland to the Russians 200 years ago, clearly prefers to think of itself as the home of Dag Hammarskjold rather than as a bygone empire.


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