There will be only a few people who may not have heard of ABBA. The Swedish band shot to world fame in 1974 after winning the Eurovision Song Contest on 9 April 1974 with their song ‘Waterloo.”
However, not all of them were born in Sweden. Anni-Frid Synni Lyngstad was born on 15 November 1945 in Bjørkåsen, a small village in Ballangen near Narvik, in northern Norway. Her early life was a lot different than that of the other three band members were born in neutral Sweden.
Lebensborn was an Aryan breeding program established in 1935 and the brainchild of Heinrich Himmler, head of the SS. He wanted to breed what he considered racially superior children. Himmler regarded the Norwegians with blue eyes and blond hair as pure Aryan. The aim of the program was to entrust the leadership of Norway to the new generation of Aryans after the war or to have them and their mothers move to Germany to bring more Nordic blood into the German Reich.
Anni-Frid, one of the singers of ABBA, is among the most famous of the Lebensborn children. Born to a German Nazi officer and a Norwegian mother during the German occupation of Norway, Anni-Frid belonged to the children of shame—unwanted after the Germans lost the war.
Anni-Frid Lyngstad was born to Synni Lyngstad, a Norwegian and Alfred Haase, a German sergeant. On 15 November 1945, a few months after Germany lost the war and soon after Haase departed back Germany. Afraid to face humiliation by fellow Norwegians, Synni Lyngstad took her baby Anni-Frid, with her mother to Norway.
These children, as well as their mothers, were not treated nicely by the post-war Norwegian authorities. When you were born in one of the Lebensborn homes, you could be institutionalized just because of the assumption that if your mother was involved with a German, she must have been mentally ill. You might have inherited her insanity or at least her debility. This often resulted in forced adoptions and sexual abuse.
Anni-frid Lyngstad was taken to Sweden by her grandmother, where they settled in the region of Härjedalen. Her grandmother took any available jobs. Lyngstad’s mother, Synni, initially remained in Norway and worked for a period in the South of the country. Synni joined her mother and daughter in Sweden, and the three moved to Malmköping (72 km from Stockholm). Synni soon died of kidney failure at aged 21, leaving Lyngstad to be raised solely by her grandmother. In June 1949, they relocated to Torshälla, just outside Eskilstuna, where Agny Lyngstad worked as a seamstress. Frida Lyngstad grew up in Torshälla and began attending school there in August 1952. Close contact with her family in Norway, notably her uncle and four aunts, continued, and Lyngstad recalled summer holidays spent with them at her birthplace. She was close to her Aunt Olive, who once stated that she saw how lonely and subdued Frida was and, as a result, always did her best to make her feel loved and welcomed during visits.
Anni-Frid believed that her biological father, Alfred Haase died on his way back to Germany since his ship was reported as sunk. However, in 1977, the German teen magazine Bravo published a poster and a biography which included details of Lyngstad’s background—the names of her mother and father. The article was read by her half-brother, Peter Haase, who went to his father and asked him if he had been in Ballangen during the war. A few months later, Lyngstad met Haase in Stockholm for the first time.
“It’s difficult…it would have been different if I had been a teenager or a child. I couldn’t connect with him or love him the way I would have if he’d been around when I was growing up.”