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German Press Review: A Tragic Death in Idyllic Sweden

German commentators sought Friday to make sense of the tragic killing of Swedish Foreign Minister Anna Lindh. Most agreed the killing has put a damper on the down-to-earth lifestyle of Scandinavian politicians.

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Sweden's royal family attends a memorial service for the country's slain foreign minister, Anna Lindh.

The Berlin paper Die Welt commented that regardless of what the murderer wanted, Lindh’s death appeared to be a political assassination. It darkens the mood concerning the vote on Sunday about whether or not Sweden will welcome the euro. That’s why it’s a "courageous act and a sign of faith that Sweden will go ahead with the referendum. It shows that democracy triumphs over murder," the paper’s editors wrote. "Whatever the outcome of the referendum, the expression of condolences from all its European neighbors shows that Sweden is part of the European community, with or without the euro," wrote Die Welt.

The editors of the Stuttgarter Nachrichten wrote that one cannot link the referendum on the euro with Lindh’s murder. "One would then lend too much meaning to the murderer’s intentions," the paper wrote. "Lindh considered herself a representative of the people, and was very down-to-earth. Should Sweden end up voting in favor of the euro and that victory remain connected with Lindh’s name, then perhaps it will offer the Swedish people a bit of comfort in this dark hour," the editorial concluded.

The Berlin newspaper Der Tagespiegel reflected on how Lindh’s murder is impacting the image of Sweden abroad. "Many have been living under the false belief that Sweden is the ultimate symbol of the social welfare state," the paper wrote. "A country that takes care of its citizens from the cradle to the grave. Sweden has stood for neutrality, for being a society that promotes intense political debate and a country that strives for consensus. But Anna Lindh’s murder tragically illustrates that Sweden is not removed from reality," the paper wrote.

Meanwhile, the editors of the Frankfurter Rundschau opined that the murder of Lindh, just like that of former Prime Minister Olof Palme 17 years ago, could only happen in that way in Scandinavia. "Where else does a prime minister walk to the cinema or a foreign minister go shopping without a bodyguard?" Those who call Sweden naive, wrote the Rundschau, are looking at things too simply. "That voters and political leaders lead a very similar life is one of the strengths of the Scandinavian country and part of the foundation of its democracy. Going out without a bodyguard just before an election may have been careless, but to forsake the goals of a society built on tolerance simply to adhere to strict security measures would have gone against Lindh’s principles," the paper concluded.

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