This is how Mona Sahlin remembers Anna Lindh: “She was incredibly brave”

On Monday, it will be 20 years since Foreign Minister Anna Lindh died from the injuries she sustained in a knife attack at NK, in Stockholm.

She was 46 years old and the murder of Anna Lindh came to shake the whole of Sweden.

Party colleague and close friend Mona Sahlin recalls the sad day when the news came, about how she thought Anna had only been injured in the arm, about how she texted her friend, and how she got angry that she didn’t get a reply.

– Late in the morning when we got to the government meeting, Göran told us that she had died. And it still feels like such sadness, sadness for her children above all. And everything that could have happened if she had been allowed to stay. It feels so hopelessly sad but fantastic to have gotten to know such a fantastic person, as Anna was, says Mona Sahlin in Nyhetsmorgon.

“What do I do?”

It was only when a condolence book was laid out in Rosenbad and Mona Sahlin was to write a few lines that she really understood what had happened.

– Some things, even if you hear them, it’s hard to take in. It was only when I sat there and was going to write that everything came to me. What do I do? Has she died? Is it true? It was surreal yet terribly real at the same time.

Many within the Social Democrats saw Anna Lindh as the natural replacement for the then party leader and Prime Minister Göran Persson. A couple of years later, when Mona Sahlin was proposed as the new leader of S, there was an image that remained.

– When I was proposed as party leader, my first thought was: “This is a sad day, because it should have been Anna Lindh who stood here”.

Sahlin – a substitute

Mona Sahlin describes her friend as a fantastic politician.

– She was incredibly brave. And in the last few years, the ones that were to be her last, she grew something incredible. When she became foreign minister, it was like yes, there. There’s Anna, this amazing politician.

– I and many people with me were looking forward to what we could do to help her in the role of prime minister, because it is clear that she would have become party leader and probably also prime minister if she had been allowed to live. In a way, I was a substitute and it really felt that way.

But it is not primarily the loss of a politician, or future prime minister, that is the saddest – but the loss of the human Anna Lindh, says Sahlin.

– I think mostly of the 20 years that her two boys have not had with their mother. No matter how much we talk about her being a loss for Sweden and for social democracy, it is above all her family that lost a mother and a sister. I think about that a lot.