Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Interview With Anders Liljegren Chairman and Co-Founder of AFU

Milton Frank
By Milton Frank
Brazilia's Ufology Center President

     One of the founding members of UFO-Sweden in 1970, and co-founder (with Hakan Blomqvist and Kjell Jonsson) of the predecessor to Archives for UFO Research, in 1973. Involved in the study of several Swedish close encounters, particularly the Domsten case (Swedish booklet written with Clas Svahn) and the Mariannelund (Gideon Johansson) humanoid case.

One of the first researchers in Sweden to gain access to the government archives on the waves of "ghost fliers" (1930's) and "ghost rockets" (1946). Hundreds of articles published in Swedish and English; editor of the AFU Newsletter since 1976 (issue #50 published in December 2005). Today the principal manager and chairman of AFU.

1 - Why did you start to study and search Ufology? Have you ever seen an UFO? If so, how was your experience?

Anders LiljegrenI was born in 1950. I had a brother who was very interested in everything flying. He died of leukemia when I was only three. I inherited his box full of books & models of airplanes. This was the foundation. When I was maybe 10-11 I started to collect clippings about technological things, including flying saucers (which I then thought of as a technological construction in a simplistic way). By 15-16 I started to read UFO books and in 1969 -1970 I was one of several people who co-started UFO-Sweden, which is now the main Swedish organization with about 1.300 members (to be compared to 9 million citizens in Sweden). I have never seen anything that still remains a UFO, meaning I have seen a few things that later on got their perfectly natural explanation. So my interest is not self-experience-oriented but more of a collection mania, but of course with overtones where I have (in vain) tried to fully understand the phenomenon under study.

2 - Could you explain to us what AFU is? What kind of files and material do you have in AFU archives? How did you gather all those archives?

What a gigantic question! AFU was born in 1973, when a few of us felt the need for a lending library for UFO literature that would be open to anyone who pays an annual small fee. This line of work is still a part of AFU, although we have now diversifiedin many other directions. We started with about 350 books donated by a Stockholm ufologist. Now we have about 8.000 books in the library, representing about 6.500 different titles. About 700 titles are added each year now.

We have had a fantastic growth especially during the last 10-15 years. From the corner of a room in one of our founding member's apartment, we now have four archive facilities along the same city road with a total area of 250 square meters. The collection represents about 600-650 meters on our shelves.

We now collect almost anything related to UFOs and belief (or non-belief!) in UFOs and theories related to them or to the related folklore of extraterrestrial visits – now, in historic and pre-historic times. We, of course, have the national collection of Swedish UFO reports (at least 20.000 of them) and now also the Danish collection (deposition by the Danish national group). We have accepted donations – and sometimes we have even bought – from hundreds of Swedish, Scandinavian, European and international collectors and donors.

Our main collections are: books & booklets, magazines (about 25.000 unique issues), clippings (about 30.000 Swedish plus growing collections from many other countries), UFO reports & related documents, audio tape cassettes (about 2.000 including witness interviews, public talks, media programs), some 600 videos (a part of our collection in large growth right now!), a small SF collection, an almost complete collection of the maps of Sweden (to help field investigations), personal and organizational files from hundreds of groups (mainly in Scandinavia), paraphernalia (like models, posters, T-shirts, you name it…). Most of these things have been donated to us.

The material arrives here in postal boxes from countries like France, Russia, the United States, and other corners of the orld. Clas Svahn (chairman of UFO-Sweden since more than 15 years) is our "whipper" of materials and his cars have taken tons of materials to our doors from all across Sweden, Scandinavia and the UK. In November he made the fourth tour between UK ufologists and collected another car-load, which has already been catalogued and filed – for the most part, see www.afu.info/recdons06.htm.

3 - I know that you have been writing some UFO articles. Can you tell us what article you wrote you most like? Do you intend to translate some of your articles to Portuguese? Do you have any article published in Brazil? Did you ever write a book?

Writing is the part of my life that I have been forced to set aside due to lack of time. I still have a professional job, six hours a day, to care for – and the administration of the archives, which takes more than the remainder of my spare time.

I still mourn not being able to bring the rich Scandinavian material on our ghost fliers (1930s) and our ghost rockets (1946) to the international audience's attention. This is a probably a loss to international UFO studies, to some extent, although Clas Svahn and I have still managed to write a few lengthy articles on the subject. I have planned a few books but failed to find the time and concentration to finish them. If anyone should like to translate some of our articles in English to Portuguese they are more than welcome! Maybe it has been done? The best thing I have written is probably about the investigation of the Gideon Johansson humanoid encounter, which unfortunately is yet mostly in Swedish. I spent a week on the phone, interviewing most people connected to the witness and also hours at the ibrary, and finally I think I found a psychological solution to the case. Any solution to a case thrills me.

4 - Could you tell us how your involvement in the study of Domsten Case was?

I was mainly doing the table work here, like library studies, while Clas Svahn was the one active in the field with interviews of everyone involved. Together I think we put together a very definite picture that the case was a hoax. We also managed to find the inspirations for creating the story: a local ghost story and a science fiction cartoon in the Tom Trick series. We were thrilled by finding the solution (and finally learning about the death-bed confession of one of the claimants) to this case which had been one of the primers in Swedish ufology for decades, and also published internationally. I can still remember the disappointment it created in some of the audience in the late 1980s, as Clas Svahn presented the result at a national UFO conference. Dead silence in the audience. It was really like killing a darling. I love that. I just wish we could kill another darling the other way – finding positive proof.

5 - You were one of the first researchers in Sweden to gain access to the government archives on the waves of "ghost fliers" (1930's) and "ghost rockets" (1946). How was it? What conclusions did you get?

As for the ghost fliers I am 99 % confident of a perfectly natural explanation to the phenomenon. This was between the two World Wars, the winters of 1933/1934 and 1936/1937. Hitler had just entered as the modern emperor of Germany. This bears every sign of an intelligence and training operation by Russian and/or German air forces directed against the mining ores of northern Sweden. But we have still failed to find the definitive document to prove this thesis, in any archive. I must admit that we have not tried very hard; this is one of the little devils poking at me from over my shoulder. If anyone should like to fund this study we would be more than happy to do it, taking leave from our works for the needed daily money.

As for the ghost rockets of 1946 it's more complicated. There we still have 150-200 mostly Swedish cases (of more than 1.000) that remain unsolved, in my mind. It is a start of the modern UFO era, but not with flying saucers (meaning daylight discs). I think we have only one case in the whole wave that could be a DD. The objects were mainly cigar-, rocket- or airplane-like, sometimes behaving in a very advanced way. The Defense Staff committee couldn't explain many of the cases in 1946, and I think we have also failed in a good number of cases. The ghost rocket phenomenon continues with a few cases pouring in now and then. At least we have big question marks over our heads. But the good cases of 1946 are wrapped (as usual) in a plethora of meteoric phenomena and high-altitude over flights of newly imported Vampire jets.

6 - What are the top 10 cases of World Ufology in your opinion?

This is a tough one. I would like a few days to concentrate on that question. I think I would still single out Roswell as one of the ten. Making a list of the ten would probably involve a few days of thinking and thumbing through the literature. But Roswell is a mysterious thing. I am glad that people like Nick Redfern are trying to find new inklings on the problem but I am not confident that the mystery is permanently solved and buried. This summer I have been watching and cataloguing (for the AFU archives) a good number of Roswell video documentaries and I am still impressed with SOME of the materials, excluding, of course, things like the Santilli film and some of the less believable witnesses. Roswell is the mother of cover-up cases, although I regularly don't believe in a great cover-up by any of the governments of the world. If there is a cover-up it's generally more about ignorance than about knowledge.

7- What is the most important UFO CASE in Sweden in your opinion? Why do you believe so?

Since several of the good ones have failed to stand the test I must single out the Gotland case, reported by AFU donor K.Gösta Rehn in the UFO Encyclopedia by Ronald Story. But we still need many pieces of that puzzle and it could be a "looser", too. It rests entirely on witness testimony but is the mother of a very good daylight disc case with the extremely detailed descriptions of the two discs. It impressed me very much when first published by Rehn, and it still does.

8 - In Brazil right now we have the tendency to separate Spiritual Ufology to Scientific Ufology. What do you think about that? What do you think about Spiritual Ufology and Scientific Ufology? Can they live together or separate?

I don't think they can live together, not in one and the same organization, if that organization is to survive in the long run... AFU is possibly the one and only exception, because we are an archives institution that has as an AIM to collect material from ALL aspects of ufology, including even the extreme spiritual cults. This is our mission: to care for preservation of it all, whether "serious", "semi-serious" or anything else.

UFO-Sweden was from the start of the spiritual type, with me and a few other types trying to balance with some "science" thinking. It didn't work at that time, so we split up. This was not the only split from UFO-Sweden – until it was, finally, "completely" on the "scientific" side and with the spiritual ufologists offside. Now it works, at least in my mind! Spiritual ufology is now very low profiled in Sweden, but still existing to a degree where it doesn't interfere with serious investigations and attempts to find explanations for the phenomena reported.

9 - What would you say to a young man that intends to be a Ufology searcher?

A very good question this one. I have myself asked it of people I have interviewed. A few points: Never expect to make a living from serious ufology, unless you maybe combine it with a broad academic or journalistic career. Question every belief, even the most "self-evident" (like extraterrestrial spaceships!). A good point would be to work more from a semi-folkloric viewpoint of collecting a large number of stories and materials into a catalogue before taking a stand on the origin(s) of it all. The
complete picture is formed by the individual cases so be careful with the minute details of EVERY case.

10- Dou you read about Brazilian Ufology Cases? What Brazilian cases do you know? What do you think about them?

I remember a few, mainly from the repertoire of Olavo T. Fontes, like the Itaipú case and, of course, the sexual abduction of Antonio Villas Boas. Rehn translated many APRO cases for his books in Swedish. I also read a lot of Brazilian humanoid stories in the 1960s – 1980s, the golden age of the Flying Saucer Review under Charles Bowen's editorship.

Brazilian ufology seems to me a lot like Finnish ufology, the stories coming from the country neighboring us to the immediate east. At least the multitude of contactee stories!! There is a lot of spiritual undertones, both positive and negative. The very negative stories of blood-sucking chupacabras, ray-burned people & mutilations (a large wave of this in Argentina, don't know about Brazil in this sense…) makes you think about "devils in the skies".

11 - What is your opinion about Ufology future?

With so many wild-brains in the field (particularly the American conspiracy scene that has such a big influence on us all) I can see no future for ufology as a science, except for being, perhaps a part of ethnology with outside actors studying our odd behavior (in place of us studying the very UFO phenomenon!). This is bad, and sad, because there is obviously a strong core of truly mysterious cases & materials that should not be ignored.

There is also a tendency for repetition every decade or every-other decade. Every new generation of ufologists repeats the mistakes of the "elderly" and view us as overly skeptical, even as debunkers. The people that survive this process, still taking a part in active ufology, and learning by doing, are very few, but they can make a difference by joining forces, nationally and trans-nationally. Some small such nucleus of people can be found in many nations and it's very much up to us. The internet and its mailing-lists is now strong glue between us all. So let's be

12 - I really would like you to live a message to The Brazilian Ufology Center. Right now we have more than 26.400 members and they really would like to hear what you have to say to them.

26.400 means 125 ufologists in every million (counting 188 million people living in Brazil). By comparison, we are about 1.300 paying members out of 9 million people in Sweden. So we are on roughly equal terms! Effective work can be accomplished on a few levels: case collection (maybe you should view and pride yourself more as modern folklorists?), data analysis (is there a database of Brazilian cases, we have one of 12.000 Swedish cases) and recruiting intelligent and hard-working people with good general contacts in the society for the boards of your organizations.

Of course, if there was a Brazilian Archives for UFO Research (maybe there is, without us knowing it?) we would support it because having a chain of national-international archives to preserve the material and traditions of every generation of ufologists will strengthen us and give ufology a permanent
history, tradition and good reputation even in academic circles.

AFU in Sweden cannot possibly cover the complete globe with our work, even though we have that ambition in some ways! The ambition is effectively stopped by such "minor" things as our lack of understanding what has been written in a foreign language, such as Portuguese!! We are currently working our ways into the ufology's from countries like Finland, Russia and France, where we can't fully appreciate and understand what we collect and preserve without the help of native ufologists from those countries.

This is a weakness that can only be countered, in the long run, by creating a chain of national or regional archives, which would unite through the internet. From our point of view the creation of a sister AFU-Brazil (specializing in collection of Portuguese materials) would be a good thing and we could send you hundreds of kilos of European materials in exchange for the extra copies created within your own donation "system" and which we would be happy to receive here.

We've just had our first big grant of 82.000 SEK from the Swedish National Archives for buying new shelves for a new archive we are just inaugurating, see www.afu.info/projects.htm. We have worked more than three decades for this success so you have to be very, very patient. January/07

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