Frida's 40 years

En ledig dag single (pic: thanks to Elmari ABBA lehekülg)Forty years ago today, 21-year-old Anni-Frid Lyngstad made her Swedish television debut and launched an international music career.

Earlier that day, young Anni-Frid had won a talent contest at Skansen in Stockholm, singing the song ‘En ledig dag’. Frida had been entering these contests for many years in an attempt to break into the music business.

Part of her prize was the chance to perform on a television spectacular designed to keep Swedes at home as this was the day that Sweden changed from driving on the left-hand side of the road to driving on the right.

As we all know, this auspicious occasion led to an illustrious career that culminated with ABBA’s enormous worldwide success, but also saw a long and varied solo career.

Today it doesn’t seem likely that we will any new music from Frida. She has said that she has “shut that door” behind her. Still, we have forty years of ABBA albums, solo collections, duets and guest appearances on other people’s records to enjoy.

Congratulations to Frida on this momentous anniversary!

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4 Responses to “Frida's 40 years”

  1. anja `94 Says:

    I LOVE FRIDA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. angel Says:

    frida is the best in the world she rules for the girls

  3. Samuel Inglles Says:

    Hi Ian

    An article on the country Frida lives in today.

    Kind Regards
    Samuel Inglles

    24 hours in Zurich

    June 20, 2009
    Isabelle Berglas finds Swiss couture, fine chocolate and sensory deprivation.

    Renowned as a centre for international banking, Zurich (affectionately called Zuri by the Swiss) is not only famed for its clout on the world’s financial markets but also as the city that gave birth to the avant-garde Dadaist art movement. It is the largest city in Switzerland, yet you can explore the historic centre on foot and enjoy its cafe culture. And don’t fret if your knowledge of the local dialect, Schweizerdeutsch (Swiss-German), is below par. English is widely spoken.


    Try to arrive at Cafe Felix early to avoid the long queues, especially on weekends, and start the day with a hot chocolate. This 150-year-old institution (formerly known as Cafe Schober) uses only farmhouse milk and pure grated chocolate to produce its indulgent drinks. For the health-conscious, there’s bircher muesli, the fibre-filled oat and fruit cereal goodness invented in Switzerland by Dr Bircher about 1900.

    Cafe Felix, Bahnhofstrasse 104, phone +41 (0)44 211 7866.


    Time to browse in the designer boutiques along Bahnhofstrasse, one of Europe’s most illustrious shopping strips. Best to leave your high heels at home and wear sensible walking shoes to negotiate the cobbled streets, where only pedestrians and trams are allowed. Swiss fashion players such as Bogner and Grieder vie for attention among the international brands. Even if you can’t afford to buy anything because of the famously strong Swiss franc, remember window shopping can be fun.


    It would be hard to leave Zurich without buying Swiss chocolate. Forget the brands that are sold worldwide and choose the superior local treats. Confiserie Sprungli has some of the finest freshly made chocolates in town, including its dark-chocolate Cru Sauvage truffles, made from a wild cacao bean grown in Bolivia.

    Confiserie Sprungli, Bahnhofstrasse 2, phone +41 (0)44 224 4711.


    Rest your feet and revive with a glass of local riesling-sylvaner wine at the luxurious Baur au Lac hotel at the foot of Bahnhofstrasse, then catch the river boat and enjoy an hour-long lunch cruise on Lake Zurich as you take in the views of the city and surrounds. If it’s on the menu, try the Zurcher geschnetzeltes (veal strips in a cream and white-wine mushroom sauce) or bratwurst accompanied by a rich onion sauce. After lunch, pause and gape at the meticulously kept houses built by the lake.

    Boats leave Burkliplatz for cruises on Lake Zurich. There are 17 boat operators with various trips, including a two-hour lunch cruise from 10 Swiss francs ($11.50) daily from June to late October and on a reduced schedule at other times.


    Explore two of Zurich’s most familiar architectural landmarks, the Fraumunster and Grossmunster medieval churches, which are on opposite sides of the Limmat River. The Grossmunster is undoubtedly Zurich’s most imposing sight but you might be surprised at the simplicity and lack of ostentation inside. If visiting at the weekend, check for times of the regular chamber concerts. Make your way across the bridge and head towards the graceful blue spire of the Fraumunster church. Once inside, make a beeline for the choir to admire its stunning main attraction: five modern stained-glass windows designed in 1970 by the then octogenarian Russian-born French painter Marc Chagall. Each window depicts a scene from the Bible.


    Stroll along Lake Zurich, starting from Bellevueplatz, where the lake and the Limmat River meet. Look for the sculptures dotted along Zurichhorn Park and, if it’s open, visit Le Corbusier Centre museum and gallery. This boldly minimalist steel-and-glass house is the last building by one of Switzerland’s most influential 20th-century architects, who once said: “A house is a machine for living in.” It was completed after Corbusier’s death in 1965.

    Le Corbusier, Hoschgasse 8, phone +41 (0)44 383 6470. Open Saturday and Sunday 2-5pm June-September.


    For an unusual dining experience, try Restaurant Blindekuh (the name means blind cow and is the German term for what’s known in English as blindman’s bluff), where patrons dine in darkness. The restaurant, a project of the Blind-Liecht (blind-light) Foundation, is in a converted church. No lights are allowed inside the dining room and customers are served by waiters with different degrees of blindness. After eating a salad, a beef dish served in a sauce followed by caramel kopfli (creme caramel) in pitch-black surrounds, a trip to the dry-cleaners might be required. You might also leave with some appreciation of what it is to be visually impaired. The evening includes a three-course dinner and music.

    Blindekuh, Muhlebachstrasse 148, phone +41 (0)44 421 5050.

    Singapore Airlines has a return fare to Zurich for $1343 (including tax) from Melbourne and Sydney with a change of aircraft in Singapore. Fares on Swiss Airlines allow you to fly a partner airline to Asia and then Swiss to Zurich.

  4. Samuel Inglles Says:

    Hi Ian

    An article on Frida.

    Kind Regards
    Samuel Inglles

    Abba girl’s Nazi secret by ROSS BENSON, Daily Mail

    On record and stage, Abba exemplified all that was fun and exhilarating in pop music. And leading the chorus in a string of worldwide hits was the distinctive, mellow voice of Frida Lyngstad, ‘the dark one’.

    Abba’s lyrics were often more poignant than their catchy melodies might initially suggest, but the Lycra-clad Frida, tottering seductively on her platform heels as she belted her way through such songs as Fernando and Mamma Mia, always projected an image of joyous exuberance.

    She wishes she could do the same in her own life. She cannot. The miseries of her past continue to torment her, even now, at the age of 56.

    Abba made her rich beyond dreams, and since her second marriage in 1992 to a member of one of Germany’s royal houses, she has been Her Serene Highness Princess Anni-Frid of Reuss.

    Yet she remains what she has always been – a confused and desperately unhappy refugee from her childhood.

    She has tried to close her mind to the painful reality of who she really is, seeking psychiatric help and retreating into isolation. All to no avail. The past keeps springing up to confront her.

    It is about to do so again, in one of the most disturbing cases to come before the European Court of Human Rights.

    For Frida Lyngstad was the product of an affair between a Norwegian woman and a Nazi soldier.

    There were up to 14,000 children of such liaisons in Norway. Some were the progeny of SS chief Heinrich Himmler’s Lebensborn (‘fountain of life’) plan to produce a master-race of blondhaired Aryans.

    Under this perverted scheme, special houses were established throughout Germany and occupied Europe, including in Norway, where SS officers mated with selected women.

    Princess Michael of Kent’s father, SS major Baron Gunther von Reibnitz, is alleged to have been party to the project. Others were simply the result of the kind of love affair of convenience that war engenders. Frida was one of those.

    It is almost 60 years since the end of the war, and time should have dimmed the memory of such a sorry chapter in history. But that has not happened in Norway.

    In the aftermath of the Nazi’s defeat, collaborators were subjected to retribution. In Norway, so were such children – not by the Germans who spawned them, but by the Norwegian people acting under the authority of the postwar Norwegian state.

    In 1945, the head of Norway’s largest mental hospital stated that women who had ‘mated’ with German soldiers were ‘mental defectives’, and concluded that 80 per cent of their progeny must be retarded.

    The children were vilified, abused, confined to mental institutions, beaten, raped and treated as sub-humans until well into the Sixties.

    Their testimony makes harrowing reading. Harriet von Nickel, born to a German soldier and a Norwegian woman in Oslo, was farmed out to brutal foster parents who, she says, ‘took every opportunity to beat the German out of me.’

    She recalls: ‘When I was little, drunken fishermen grabbed me and carved a swastika on my forehead with a rusty nail. Other Norwegians stood idly by and watched.’ She later rubbed her skin raw with sandpaper to erase the mark.

    Karl-Otto Zinken was given to a Lebensborn home after his birth in Bergen in 1941. After the war he was put into state orphanages. He still has the certificate which, he says, was the real reason he was dumped in a home for the mentally ill in 1950. It bears the words ‘father is German’ across the top.

    He says: ‘I was beaten and tortured, and two doctors abused me sexually. We were regarded as the rubbish that the Germans left behind.’

    Now the survivors, having failed to gain compensation from the Norwegian government – which still refuses to fully confront this appalling blight on its national reputation – are taking their case to Strasbourg. And they are anxious to enlist the support of Frida Lyngstad.

    Tor Barndacher, who is part of the association of war children seeking recompense, says: ‘It would be good news if someone as high-profile as Frida was on our side.’

    Frida was fortunate in that she managed to avoid the worst of the maltreatment. She could not, however, escape the stigma – and it has stayed with her ever since.

    It was in 1943, three years after the Germans invaded Norway, that a 24-year- old Nazi sergeant named Alfred Haase was posted to Ballangen. This small town is 20 miles from the port of Narvik, where, by coincidence, the SS had set up a Lebensborn stud farm.

    When Haase caught sight of Synni Lyngstad, however, he decided to do his own courting. He seduced the pretty 18-year-old by giving her a sack of potatoes – a gift of immense value in wartime Norway, where food was scarce. They had sex shortly afterwards, following a naked swim in a nearby lake.

    Haase, a pastry chef in civilian life, said he told Synni he was married. ‘I think she regarded our relationship as I did,’ he added. ‘The war meant the conditions were different. For many of us, it was a matter of living for today – tomorrow we might be dead.’

    The affair continued until 1945, when Haase was shipped back to Germany. Synni was pregnant when he left. They were destined never to meet again.

    No one in Ballangen was in any doubt as to who the father was. When Synni passed in the street, people would shout out: ‘German whore!’ Neighbours refused to have anything to do with her or her widowed mother, Agny.

    Shortly afterwards Agny fled to Sweden, taking baby Frida with her. Synni followed soon afterwards. She took a job as a waitress but died of kidney failure, aged only 21, when Frida was two years old.

    Brought up by her grandmother, a distant and embittered woman, Frida endured a forlorn childhood. She recalled: ‘I didn’t have many friends. I thought everything about me was wrong – that there was nothing about me that was worth loving.’

    Frida was told she was the daughter of a German soldier who had drowned when his ship sank on the journey back to Germany. It was not until 1977, when Abba were at the height of their success, that she learnt her father was still alive.

    At the war’s end Haase had settled near Stuttgart with his wife and two children. It was only after his niece, a keen Abba fan, read an interview with Frida in which she said she was the illegitimate offspring of a German soldier named Alfred Haase, that he discovered she was his daughter.

    A meeting was arranged. Haase, who is now an 83-year- old grandfather, arrived at her Swiss home bearing a bouquet of flowers, and greeted her with a hug. They sat together for most of the night, talking and crying. They looked over old photos and compared their hands and feet, noting how similar they were.

    Not long afterwards, Frida declared: ‘It’s like my entire background is coming back, flowing over me. It’s only now that the tension has been released – the other night, I lay awake crying for several hours.’

    It was a short-lived reconciliation. For three decades, Frida had had to deal with the disgrace of being a Lebensborn child. Now, she had to deal with a father she had never known. It proved beyond her emotional capabilities.

    She said: ‘It would have been different if I’d been a child. But it’s difficult to get a father when you’re 32 years old. I can’t really connect to him and love him the way I would have if he’d been around when I grew up.’

    After a faltering attempt at reconciliation, father and daughter parted in 1983 and have had virtually no contact since. Frida said: ‘I prefer to spend my time with people who won’t let me down.’ Not even the disasters that have subsequently befallen this gifted woman have drawn them together again.

    Like her mother before her, Frida had been a romantically vulnerable teenager – ‘I think it was security I was looking for,’ she once said – and at the age of 16 she had given birth to a daughter named Ann Lise-Lotte. But in 1998, Ann, then 30 years old, was killed in a car crash. A year later tragedy struck again when Frida’s husband, Prince Ruzzo, died of cancer. They were burdens anybody would have struggled to face up to. For Frida, they proved overwhelming. Ever since the first meeting with her father, she has been prone to bouts of depression that have required medical attention.

    Says Haase, now living in retirement with his wife Anna: ‘It is my daughter’s life – what she chooses to do with it is up to her. I had an affair and I had a child, but this was all such a long time ago, when I was young and the world was in flames.’

    He adds: ‘I didn’t know she would be traumatised or anything. And I know nothing of this Lebensborn group. What she does is up to her. More, I cannot say.’

    Frida now lives in Garboesque seclusion in Fribourg in Switzerland, rarely venturing out – and, at least until now, steadfastly refusing to be drawn into the furore surrounding her birth.

    Says her spokeswoman: ‘She has been asked several times in the past six or seven years to become involved with the Lebensborn group, but she does not want to.’

    But however hard she tries, Frida Lyngstad cannot escape her past. She escaped being branded with a swastika like Harriet von Nickel. And unlike so many of the Lebensborn children, who were denied education and work, she has done well in life. But the mental scars remain, and neither fame nor wealth can eradicate them.

    And that, as the ‘dark one’ from Abba once sadly admitted, is not something she could ever bring herself to sing about.

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