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Tuesday, September 7, 1999 Published at 17:39 GMT 18:39 UK


Bergman admits Nazi past

Bergman thought Hitler was "charismatic" when he saw him speak

Legendary Swedish director Ingmar Bergman has revealed that he was a great admirer of Adolf Hitler, only losing his enthusiasm for Nazism after the horrors of the concentration camps were uncovered.

The 81-year-old has spoken candidly to author Maria-Pia Boethius, whose book Honour and Conscience asks whether Sweden was genuinely neutral during World War II.

Bergman, maker of some of the world's most acclaimed films, has admitted that he was a Nazi sympathiser on previous occasions.

[ image: Bergman saw Hitler in 1936.
Bergman saw Hitler in 1936. "He electrified the crowd."
But he has now said he was impressed by the Nazi dictator after seeing him address a rally, reports the Swedish tabloid Expressen.

The young Bergman was on an exchange trip to Germany in 1936, staying with a Nazi family when he saw Hitler speak.

"Hitler was unbelievably charismatic. He electrified the crowd," said the Oscar-nominated film-maker.

Bergman describes his father as being ultra right-wing and his politics rubbed off on the whole family.

"The Nazism I had seen seemed fun and youthful," he admitted to the author. "The big threat were the Bolsheviks, who were hated."

The book also documents an attack by Bergman's brother and friends on a house owned by a Jew. The group daubed the walls with a swastika - the symbol of the Nazis.

But the director has confessed to being too cowardly to raise any objections.

[ image:
"I did not want to believe my eyes"
The maker of Fanny and Alexander and The Seventh Seal retained his admiration of Fascism right up to the end of the war.

"When the doors to the concentration camps were thrown open, at first I did not want to believe my eyes."

"When the truth came out it was a hideous shock for me. In a brutal and violent way I was suddenly ripped of my innocence."

Bergman officially retired for directing after the success of 1983's Fanny and Alexander - which won the best foreign film Oscar. He continues to be an active writer and stage director.

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