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Gullmar Svensson, one of the veterans of the peacekeeping mission pictured in 2014 and in the 60s. Photo: SVT, G. Svensson.
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A Swedish UN peacekeeper in the Congo. Photo: TT.

Film traces Swedish UN peacekeepers in Congo

"They saw things that they could never have imaged"
4:37 min

It's been 50 years since the last Swedish troops dispatched to the Congo as part of a United Nations peacekeeping mission returned home. Now, many of them are breaking decades of silence in a new documentary that traces the UN mission and the lives of those involved. 

Marika Griehsel is the director of the documentary "Kongoveteranerna," or the Kongo Veterans. It tells the story of the more than 6,000 Swedes who served as peacekeepers during the four-year UN mission at a time when Sweden's Dag Hammarskjöld was UN Secretary General.

In 1960, Congo was on the verge of independence and chaos. The Congolese army had rebelled against the nation's elected leadership and a mineral-rich province in the south had seceded.

The Swedish peacekeepers were sent to ease the growing tension but many of them weren't ready for what happened.

Within the first year, Swedish soldiers were killed in the Congo. A total of 19 Swedes died during the operation and dozens were wounded. And those returning to Sweden weren't given a warm welcome but told to keep quiet.

The documentary can be seen online here.

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