Sunday, March 15, 2020

The IGAP Movement in Sweden

”… the Brothers have suggested that a Get-Acquainted Program be started on Earth. To help in this movement they have suggested that I ask the help of one or more men and women in each nation, people who have proven their interest and sincerity… Those in each locality who have already expressed an interest in our interplanetary visitors are to be made acqainted with one another… Information of the Brothers of other worlds with whom I continue having more or less regular meetings, will be sent regularly to each national leader, who in turn will forward it to all of his assistants. The idea is, that the citizens of each nation, through these efforts, will grow into closer united friendship with their countrymen, without discriminations of divisions of any kind. In time, it is hoped, that these national efforts will overflow into world-wide understanding and friendship.”

This quote is from the letter George Adamski sent out to his co-workers on July 15, 1957. It was the beginning of the International Get Acquainted Program (IGAP), that for several years engaged many Adamski supporters around the globe. From a historical and cultural viewpoint this was an impressive humanitarian project, equaling the Understanding movement, founded by contactee Daniel Fry in 1955. IGAP did result in many international friendships and cooperation but also in disunion and enmity among co-workers, especially was this noticeable in Sweden and Denmark.

In practise IGAP have had two representatives in Sweden, Edith Nicolaisen and Thor-Leif Dahnielson (today Thor-Leif Strindberg). But only Thor-Leif Strindberg was officially recognized as a ”true” IGAP representative. Edith Nicolaisen was always regarded as something of a heretic because of her different interpretation of George Adamski´s space people and her support for other contactees like Daniel Fry.

Miss Edith Nicolaisen (1911-1986) was an exceptional woman, founder of the Swedish new age publishing house Parthenon in July 1957. She was strongly influenced by theosophical and anthroposophical ideas and was a good friend of Theosophist and Danish liberal Catholic Bishop Otto Viking. Edith Nicolaisen began corresponding with George Adamski in 1954 and the first book published in Swedish by Parthenon in October 1957, was Flying Saucers Have Landed by Desmond Leslie and George Adamski. Her second aim was to form as many UFO and new age groups in Sweden as possible. Parthenon published several of the classic contactees of the 1950s: George Adamski, Daniel Fry, Ray and Rex Stanford, Elisabeth Klarer. Edith Nicolaisen corresponded with hundreds of ufologists, contactees, esotericists and new-age activists from around the world between 1950-1986.

Edith Nicolaisen 1962

Edith Nicolaisen first accepted Adamski´s assertion that the space people he met were physical with organic bodies just like us, but in 1958 she began to doubt this claim and instead adhered to the position of Meade Layne and Desmond Leslie, that the space people from Venus, Mars etc. were etheric physical, not normally visible to physical eyes. This was also in accordance with the Esoteric Tradition. She never debated this issue with Adamski but she wrote of her conviction to other correspondents. In an undated letter 1970 to Alice Wells she stated: ”According to my opinion both Rudolf Steiner and George Adamski are right when they maintain: Rudolf Steiner that all other planetarian-life enfoldments in our sunsystem are on an etheric level (physical-etheric levels) and George Adamski that our Brothers manifest on the physical plane and are in physical bodies – right – but their normal plane is etheric-physical.”

This view of the space people became the dividing line in the contactee movement and especially among IGAP representatives. You were not accepted as a genuine IGAP co-worker if you accepted the esoteric interpretation. Even though Edith Nicolaisen had spent years in promoting the books and philosophy of George Adamski in Sweden the leaders of the George Adamski Foundation never really recognized her work and she is, to my knowledge, never listed as an official IGAP representative. The difference in opinion is clearly noted in the correspondence between Edith Nicolaisen and Alice Wells. Up until 1966 Edith always began her letters to Alice with ”Dear fellow New-ager” On June 4, 1966 she received a reply from Alice Wells with this sharp reprimand: ”The New-age movement has nothing to do with George Adamski´s work. His understanding is far beyond what they support.” In spite of Edith heretic views she was mostly tolerated by other IGAP co-workers and she corresponded with Adamski supporters from all over the world.

Alice Wells

In 1965 a young man living in Eksjö, Sweden, Thor-Leif Dahnielson (1949-) had become interested in George Adamski and his philosophy and entered a correspondence with Alice Wells and other co-workers. In a newspaper article, Smålands Folkblad, January 11, 1971 he mention a UFO observation in the Spring of 1965: ”It had the same shape as a discus and glided across the sky. The time was around 9 A.M., says Thor-Leif, who narrates that several others had seen the same phenomenon.”

According to Thor-Leif this observation had a special significance to him: ”George Adamski´s secretary once helped me when I inquired whether she could ask the space people to show themselves over Huskvarna (where I lived at the time), and the same day I received her answer a shining white object glided over the district around Vättern (lake). I observed it together with some friends and according to the newspapers it hade even been observed by the staff at Jönköping Airport. That was enough for me to be convinced of the truth in George Adamski´s words”. (Letter from Thor-Leif Dahnielson to Jan Janson, March 4, 1969). When I recently reminded Thor-Leif about this incident he has no special memory of the occasion. I have not been able to find the newspaper article referred to nor the letter from Alice Wells.

Thor-Leif Dahnielson with girlfriend, Smålands Dagblad, Jan 11, 1971

Thor-Leif soon contacted Edith Nicolaisen and he began working for Parthenon, helping with translations, distribution of information about books etc. When he asked Alice Wells about Parthenon he received some rather derogatory comments: ”Yes, I know of Parthenon, and Edith Nicolaisen, and I don´t have a good feeling about it either. I have a feeling that whatever she receives she uses for her own benefit. She receives the Cosmic Bulletin because she donated towards it. But she wanted the Science of Life lessons and this was refused, for I knew she would translate it without permission, even though they are copyrighted.”
(Letter from Alice Wells to Thor-Leif Dahnielson, Jan. 5, 1966).

An even more unflattering comment on Parthenon was recieved from Danish IGAP representative Air Force Major H.C. Petersen: ”We have never and will never cooperate with Parthenon. We don´t consider Miss Nicolaisen worthy of cooperation, neither has she the ability”.
(Letter from H.C. Petersen to Thor-Leif Dahnielson, January 18, 1966).

In spite of these critical comments from other IGAP co-workers Thor-Leif continued working for Edith Nicolaisen and they also planned to publish a UFO/New Age magazine in Sweden. Thor-Leif was rather enthusiastic about these plans and mentioned the project when he was interviewed in the local newspaper Smålands-Tidningen, November 15, 1968. He hoped this could develop into a permanent employment. But the critical comments about Parthenon from other IGAP co-workers now became obvious in the correspondence: ”I think there is a difference in our estimation of the ”Brother´s” visits to Earth. I believe wholeheartedly in George Adamski which means I absolutely do not believe in Rolf Telano or Fry. But I can be of assistance anyway as the purpose of the work is a better world. Unfortunately the ”saucers” have become something of a ”religion”, which was not the wish of George Adamski.”
(Letter from Thor-Leif Dahnielson to Edith Nicolaisen, October 27, 1968).

Smålands-Tidningen, Nov. 15, 1968

It was probably inevitable that the Dahnielson-Nicolaisen partnership should dissolve when their ideological differences became apparent. In October 1969 Thor-Leif founded the journal Kosmisk Bulletin (Cosmic Bulletin), which in 1970 added the subtitle Svensk IGAP Journal (Swedish IGAP Journal). With the approval of George Adamski Foundation  he now became the official IGAP reprentative of Sweden. Edith Nicolaisen now obviously felt deserted and disregarded as Adamski co-worker: 
”As to the IGAP-center: No one needs to obtain permission anywhere to establish IGAP-centers, as it was the Brothers and Adamski´s  desire that as many centers as possible were established in all parts of the world, but above all a wholehearted  co-operation between all centers. For some years, particularly, during 56/57/58 we were privleged with Adamski´s confidential messages as to his meetings with the Brothers and to their suggestions and advice. Therefore, we were among the first UFO/New Age-centers who got informed about the Brothers´ suggestions to establish IGAP-centers and thus became the first IGAP-center here in Sweden in accordance with the wish of George Adamski and the Brothers.”
(Letter from Edith Nicolaisen to Thor-Leif Dahnielson, February 8, 1970).

Thor-Leif explained that he now intended to publish the ”cosmic-philosophical” literature of George Adamski himself because of Parthenon´s bad reputation: ”I also wish to state that I don´t regard Parthenon as an IGAP center, because within IGAP we definitely dissociate ourselves from the type of fantasy literature published by Parthenon: Borealis, Fry, Anthony Brook etc. It is these type of authors who have caused the greatest damage to the saucer cause.”
(Letter from Thor-Leif Dahnielson to Edith Nicolaisen, February 19, 1970).

Thor-Leif published twelve issues of Kosmisk Bulletin between 1969-1970. The content was a mixture of UFO reports, articles and writings by George Adamski and co-workers. There were also plans to start a UFO reporting center in Sweden. The last issue was published in September 1970. When Thor-Leif moved to another town and entered a new employment he had no time for the magazine. In 1972 he settled with his wife in Nässjö and together with Ernst Wallin founded Nässjö ufologiska sällskap (Nässjö ufological society) and the publishing house Waldia. They published a Swedish edition of George Adamski´s Flying Saucers Farewell (Mot nya horisonter, 1974) and Thor-Leif also published his own book, Sanningen om det övernaturliga (The Truth About the Supernatural). Thor-Leif Dahnielson´s father was a pastor in a local church and the Christian religion became more and more an influence in his life and activities. Interviewed in the local newspaper Tranås Tidning he stated: ”What Jesus said is true in every word. But I do not believe in spirits. What people experience as spirits is an expression of the force that govern the universe… Supernatural experiences come from the subconscious”.
(Interview in Tranås Tidning, February 22, 1974.)

Tranås Tidning, Feb. 22, 1974

Beginning in 1974 Thor-Leif Dahnielson worked as translator for various publishing houses, a.o. Readers Digest. 1975-1979 he studied at Famous Artist School in Holland and has since participated in many exhibitions. In 1980 he changed his name to Thor-Leif Strindberg. Interest in Christianity and theology resulted in the website Bibelfrågan (Bible Questions).

As Thor-Leif Dahnielson (Strindberg) was a prominent exponent of flying saucer reality and George Adamski for several years I was of course interested in his view of the subject today. In an email March 5, 2020 he stated:
”That was a long time ago. I have not been engaged in the UFO-question since the beginning of the 1980s (even though I am of course still interested and read UFO news when I find them), but my attitude is probably the same as before. The UFO phenomenon cannot be dismissed as a physical or psychological ”natural” phenomenon or the result of some earthly technology and then we are forced to consider extraterrestrial visitors. So I still think it is interplanetary visitors as I cannot find any other explanation. Regarding Adamski I have not reflected much upon him during the last 40 years, but I have of course read some articles on the Internet written by persons in his acquaintance or who were in contact with him when everything happened. I still don´t think he was a liar but possibly he himself was deceived  – but by whom and why? I have no idea. That the ”space brothers” he met was no visitors from planets in our solar system is in any case evident.”

Thor-Leif Strindberg in 2009

Being a supporter of George Adamski and IGAP in the 1960s and 70s often resulted in many conflicts and difficult decisions. The organic physical versus etheric physical interpretation is still a hot potato among Adamski supporters. One of the real hardline fundamentalist advocates of the organic physical interpretation was Danish IGAP representative H.C. Petersen as evidenced by this letter:
”Your most important guiding principle should be that Adamski NEVER participated in meetings where other representatives of the UFO cause were present. Adamski was the UFO cause – all others were freeloaders. But you decide yourself.”
(Letter from H.C. Petersen to Thor-Leif Strindberg, June 7, 1970.)

It must have been a difficult and frustrating situation for the idealist Edith Nicolaisen to having been more or less excommunicated by the IGAP leaders. She was more openminded to other contactees experiences and tried to concentrate on the messages of goodwill and spiritual evolution. Unfortunately, during her later years, she became involved in various doomsday prophecies but she did more for the Adamski cause and contactee philosophy than anyone in Sweden. She does have a few points in her last letter to Thor-Leif Danielson:
”Nothing has done greater harm to the Brothers and ”the case for the UFOs” than the lack of Understanding and the BIG ME… Few, - very few of the UFO/IGAP members seem to understand the true meaning of  the IGAP-program as it was meant by the Brothers and their contact-person G.A. – Even many have become sectarian.”
(Letter from Edith Nicolaisen to Thor-Leif Dahnielson, March 2, 1970).