Friday, November 2, 2018

Sven Schalin 1925-2017

Today there are not many ufologists left of the first pioneers from the 1950s. Recently the AFU board members were informed that one of Sweden´s real oldboys in our movement, Sven Schalin died on October 13, 2017. It is unfortunate the this sad message didn´t reach us until now as we stilll don´t know if Schalin´s UFO archive has been saved. Many years ago we were allowed to copy some of his material but as for all the original reports, photos, correspondence etc. we fear it has ended up in the local dump. The tragic fate of many rare and unique ufo archives.

Sven Schalin in 2014

Perhaps even more frustrating was the information that Sven Schalin in his will donated around four million SEK to the Swedish Anthroposophical movement. Schalin had for many years been an AFU supporter and we had of course hoped he would remember AFU in his will. With four million SEK we could have realized our old dream of having one large archive facility instead of the present 14 premises, scattered in different buildings. But we have been around since 1973 so we just keep on hoping that someone on this little planet find our work and efforts worthy of a major donation or remember us in his or her will.

Sven Schalin was born i Gothenburg 1925. He studied aerospace engineering at Chalmers University of Technology, Gothenburg and in 1954 moved to Linköping, working for SAAB, the Swedish aerospace and defense company, founded in 1937. During his engineering career at SAAB, Schalin worked in developing famous Swedish fighter aircraft Saab J 35 Draken,  Saab 37 Viggen and Saab JAS 39 Gripen. He retired in 1990.

Sven Schalin lecturing at the UFO-Sweden annual conference, Jönköping 1974.

It was during his work at SAAB that Schalin first heard of flying saucers. In 1956 a colleague at SAAB asked if he had read Flying Saucers From Outer Space by Donald Keyhoe. Schalin read the book and became deeply fascinated by the subject. Even more so when a man from British Intelligence visited SAAB and related further information. This man later sent a list of UFO literature to Schalin who read all he could find on the subject and also became a member of NICAP (National Investigations Committee on Aerial Phenomena), headed by Donald Keyhoe.

The first major UFO case investigated by Schalin was the Domsten close encounter. On the evening of December 19, 1958, two young men, Stig Rydberg and Hans Gustafsson claimed to have encountered a landed saucer outside Domsten in southern Sweden. They were attacked by three or four formless creatures who try to drag them into the saucer. After a fierce fight the boys escaped, the creatures entered the craft and it took off. This sensational story was printed in several newspapers and was even investigated by the Swedish police and military. Sven Schalin interviewed the boys assisted by Dr. Ingeborg Kjellin (MD) but although skeptical they found no natural explanation. But in 1989 my AFU colleagues Anders Liljegren and Clas Svahn disclosed, after years of  in-depth research and detective work, that the case was a simple hoax inspired by the Tom Trick science fiction series published in a Swedish magazine.

Sven Schalin (left) and Ingeborg Kjellin interviewing Stig Rydberg and Hans Gustafsson

Much because of articles in the magazine Se, 1959 and Såningsmannen 1960, Sven Schalin became a well known figure in Swedish ufology, resulting in public lectures and many contacts with UFO witnesses. In 1959 he also began working together with Edith Nicolaisen, founder of the Parthenon publishing house and for a few years was also a board member of Parthenon. Nicolaisen published several of the classic contactee books on the 1950s and 60s. She was a demanding and hard working woman, not easy to get along with as she expected co-workers to be totally devoted to the Parthenon spiritual mission. This, coupled with different opinions on the UFO problem, made Schalin leave the Parthenon board in 1963.

Part of article in Såningsmannen no 4, 1960.

The close co-operation with Dr. Ingeborg Kjellin, during the Domsten investigation, also influenced Schalin in another respect. Kjellin was a theosophist and inspired Schalin to study theosophical classics, Blavatsky etc. for a few years. Influenced by a working colleague at SAAB he soon changed his interest to Rudolf Steiner´s Anthroposophy which led to a break with Kjellin. Schalin became of member of the Anthroposophical Society, and would conintue to advocate the Steiner worldview all his life. In a letter to Edith Nicolaisen July 4, 1962, he tried to explain his shifting position regarding UFOs and spirituality:

”I am still very much interested in the UFO/IFO issue but I don´t share the same views as previously. My assessment has changed and I am rather confused regarding the implications of the UFO phenomena and contact stories. I don´t believe that the basic human problems and our relation to Christ involves UFOs. No such phenomena are required in understanding spiritual values and what is important in our life. This has been clearly evinced by Rudolf Steiner. Forgive me if I am wrong but I simply cannot view things as Miss Nicolaisen. Maybe I am not spiritually mature. My interest in spiritual matters has developed rather all at once, probably because too much has happened which has been difficult to digest. Then it is necessary to seek solid ground beneath the feet or your life will be a total chaos. And for me Anthroposophy is that solid ground. I also hope that via this teaching come to a better understand of UFOs and what they imply.”

The influence of Anthroposophy on the UFO movement has been quite extensive but so far very little documented. A list of ufologists more or less influenced by Rudolf Steiner would include Allen Hynek, Gordon Creighton, Trevor James Constable, Gordon Allen, Dan and Eileen Lloyd. Personally I find it rather surprising that so many leading ufologists have been inspired by the rather odd mixture of Christian mysticism and esotericism advocated by Rudolf Steiner. The Ahriman-Lucifer demonology of Anthroposophy is reminiscent of ideas presented by fundamental Christian groups where UFOs are usually interpreted as demonic. If these ufologists had instead followed the more balanced approach, interpreting UFOs from the core Esoteric Tradition (Blavatsky, Bailey, Laurency) as exemplified by Desmond Leslie, Meade Layne and Riley Crabb the result would have been different.

Sven Schalin did not personally investigate many UFO incidents but one case he found of great interest was the Kolmården close encounter August 23, 1967. In the small community Kolmården, close to Norrköping, two teenagers observed strange lights and a small, skinny figure carrying some sort of instrument. Schalin never revealed the identity of the witnesses but some time ago investigators from UFO-Sweden found and interviewed the woman involved, who confirmed the incident.

On June 8, 1992 Anders Liljegren and I interviewed Sven Schalin at his home in Linköping. Here a few quotes from this interview:

Håkan Blomqvist (HB): How would you summarize your view of the UFO problem today?

Sven Schalin (SS): In the beginning I believed it was space ships. Further on I became more suspicious when reports of objects formed and dissolved appeared. There were many such cases and then I realized this was something different.

HB: But you didn´t interpret these cases as manipulations of a higher technology?

SS: I became convinced there is a spiritual world and from this world entities can manifest. I began to suspect they are deceiving us. I believe there are both negative and positive forces involved in all this. Today I favor the theory of materialisations.

HB: Why did you end your active involvement in ufology?

SS: When you realize that there are very treacherous things involved you want to study the spiritual aspect more. I didn´t want to dig deeper into ufology but chose to study Anthroposophy instead. But I am very confused about all this talk of crashed saucers. Where do they come from?

HB: Anthroposophists generally have a very negative view of UFOs?

SS: I had expected to get some answers to the UFO enigma through Anthroposophy but I didn´t. There is a man called Hans Mändl, a leading anthroposophist. He meditated on this enigma and I received a very brief answer. He implied that this were some form of cosmic jokers. That is all the information I got this way. Anthroposophists are reluctant to have anything to do with UFOs.

Sven Schalin wrote very few UFO-articles during his active years. He did present a summary of his views in the magazine UFO-Information no 8, 1971, Ännu gäckar de oss (They still elude us). Schalin advocated continued serious research also involving the non-material aspects. I admire his courage to publicly stand up for UFO reality in 1959, especially with regard to his position as engineer at SAAB. He was once ordered to come to the then technical director at SAAB, Hans Brising. Schalin feared a reprimand because of his UFO interest but instead Brising told of his serious interest in the subject but didn´t want this information to be made public. Sven Schalin was a brave pioneer in the Swedish UFO movement.