In Vikebotten, just south of Årjäng in western Varmland, Birger Furugård was born in December 1887. Birger was part of a sibling group of four brothers and a sister and his father was county police and his mother was a housewife. The family lived in poor economic conditions, but the children still had a decent childhood and grew up in the rural areas of Sweden. He studied commerce in Germany and at Lund University, but without graduating. Instead, he graduated as a veterinarian in 1918. During his years of study, he came into contact with socialist and nationalist movements that often glanced and flirted with racist and nationalist ideas that began to spread in all forms of society. This was something that Birger (and his brothers Sigurd and Gunnar) began to embrace and sought out.

During the twenties, he came into contact with the German national socialist party and its leader Adolf Hitler, whose fanatical, racist and uncompromising ideas Birger was attracted by. In addition to Hitler, Birger was also attracted to Dietrich Eckart and Professor Hans F.K. Günther whose texts were marked by strong nationalist ideas woven together by a pronounced racism about the superiority of the Aryan man.

Back in Sweden, Birger together with two of his brothers, Gunnar and Sigurd, formed the first real Swedish nazi party in 1924 called the Swedish National Socialist Freedom Association (SNSF). It was then a mixture of various personalities but with the common denominator that they all had the German nazi party as a model. No natural leader was appointed, but Birger was the one who took on the role of party leader.

Birger also had letter contact with leading Nazis in Germany and traveled down several times and met not only Hitler, but also Himmler, Goering and Goebbels. The party underwent several name changes in the twenties before changing its name to the Swedish National Socialist Party (SNSP) in 1930. This was then a merger of other Nazi parties that flourished around but without reaching any major electoral success. A merger could hopefully change that. The leader of the SNSP was Birger and the party magazine was called Our Struggle.

Birger was a decent speaker, good storyteller, humorous, bushy, but because of his broad dialect was not always easy to make himself understood outside Värmland. Like its German counterpart, Birger toured extensively, mainly in central Sweden, but also in regions of Skåne and Norrland. But the political successes did not materialize and the party was characterized by internal strife that eventually weakened the party. Add to that that Birger was suspected of corruption, had private financial problems, drank a little too much alcohol. All in all, this meant that other leading party members within the party broke with the SNSP and formed their own parties.

Already in 1922, Birger had opened a veterinary clinic in Molkom, about thirty kilometres north of Karlstad. But it’s his time in Deje that made him known as ”Deje-Hitler”. In 1928, he received a government service as a district veterinarian in Deje, where he was assigned a residence in the middle of central Deje, called the veterinary villa. He moved here with his wife Bertha, but the villa did not just become a service residence, but became as much a gathering point for party comrades who often came and visited him to discuss the party or just hang out. For like-minded people, the door was always open with the spouses. For Birger, politics was more important than the profession, he was often absent, which led to the medical board more than once giving Birger several warnings for neglect in the service.

By reorganizing his position as a district veterinarian in 1933, Birger was expected to move to Molkom where he also, albeit somewhat reluctantly, moved in 1934 and left Deje. SNSP was at its largest in the mid-thirties with about 10,000 members but came as I said never to lift in Sweden. Birger probably gained a greater reputation in Germany. The party invested heavily in the parliamentary elections in 1936, but the election was a fiasco. The consequence was that Birger dissolved the party in the same year and more or less withdrew from politics.

Birger had a daughter (1918-2017) who later settled in Oslo. He also had an illegitimate daughter (born in 1933). After the war, Birger continued to work as a veterinarian in Molkom until 1950. He had a faltering health and suffered from diabetes and tuberculosis, which led to him being forced into hospitalizations in batches. He never renounced his Nazi ideas, but remained faithful to them until his death in 1961. He was buried in the family grave at Silbodal cemetery in Åjang. His wife Berta died in 1966 and was also buried in the family grave.

Current status: Preserved (2022).

Location: 59°20'44.00"N 12°05'28.51"E

Get there: Car.

My comment:

Furugård’s farm’s childhood home in Vikebotten remains but stands on private land and can therefore only be seen from a distance. The family grave at Silbodal’s cemetery also remains and has perhaps, above all on his death day, December 4, become a meeting point for (heatlandic) neo-Nazis who want to honor their source of inspiration. But Furugard has otherwise no high status among the Swedish neo-Nazis, he is seen as quite unsuccessful but still the first Swedish nazi leader. The veterinary villa in Deje is also still around and there are probably few people in Deje who do not know about ”Deje-Hitler”. The old Methodist chapel (in the folk chapel) in Molkom that Furugård lived in the fall of old age is also left. Both the veterinary villa and the chapel were 2022 residential buildings.

Follow up in books: Gilmour, John: Sweden, the Swastika and Stalin - The Swedish Experience in the Second World War (2011).