The first Five O’clock Tour in honor of Dagmar Hagelin, the young Swedish woman kidnapped by the ESMA task force, took place on Saturday, May 30th.
Due to the mandatory and preventive social isolation, the ESMA Museum and Site of Memory remains closed. Therefore, the tour was made through Facebook Live and our YouTube channel. And while the quarantine goes on, people will be able to virtually participate in upcoming tributes on the last Saturday of each month.
Participants included one of Dagmar’s siblings, Jonathan Hagelin, from Sweden; Mercedes Carazo and Silvia Labayrú, survivors of this clandestine center of detention and torture, and Anders Carlsson, Swedish ambassador. The narrator was Stella Segado, a specialist in archives and human rights.
The event was inaugurated by Alejandra Naftal, executive director of the Museum, and Horacio Pietragalla Corti, Secretary of Human Rights.
“We are very happy to return with the Five O’clock Tour and here at the ESMA Museum and Site of Memory we are glad to be also part of this administration that took office on December 10th, 2019 with a State policy aimed at defend and promote human rights”, said Alejandra Naftal in her opening statement.
Right after that, she presented Horacio Pietragalla Corti, who began by greeting those present and particularly the Swedish ambassador: “In this country’s difficult days, during the dictatorship, Sweden was one of the countries that opened its doors to our countrymen who were being persecuted”, and added: “Our agendas were interrupted by this context we are living in, but we have the full will to strengthen our bonds and transform this site of memory into a Unesco world heritage site. Argentina and the region need this, because there is no greater symbol of this nation’s fight against impunity and crimes against humanity, together with the meaning of Mothers, Grandmothers and relatives.
Before the words delivered by the guests, Naftal presented a video in which Dagmar’s father Ragnar Hageling tells the story of her daughter’s kidnapping, and also read a letter by Dagmar’s sister Laura Waisman, who joined this tribute. Also, Cristian Hagelin, one of her older brothers based in Argentina was present through an audio message.
Then it was the guests’ turn. The first one to talk was ambassador Anders Carlsson, who thanked the invitation to participate in this event as well as the Hagelin family. “Dagmar was very important to me. During my first stay in Argentina, in the late 1990s, I was in charge of her case at the embassy” and added: “That is how I got to learn about Argentina in the dictatorship and Argentina in democracy: through her life. Her story moved me. That is why when I returned last year, after spending almost 20 years away from this country, one of the most shocking moments was learning that ESMA had been transformed into a site of memory. And the fact that we can meet here at the former ESMA for this event, even if it’s in a virtual form, I think it’s not just a tribute, it’s also a celebration of human rights”.
Afterwards, Jonathan Hagelin expressed his satisfaction for being present in this tribute from so many miles away to honor her sister and his father’s struggle. He also told viewers that he didn’t get to meet Dagmar personally, but he knew who she was through biographies and what his family told her. During his speech, he shared an anecdote: “On December 3rd, 1976, Dagmar left a letter for her mother that read ‘I don’t know if I love life because it is wonderful or if life is wonderful because I love it’. I carry those words on my body, in a tattoo. Also, my niece and daughter’s middle names are Dagmar. She will always be present in our lives”. He added: “My father always knew these cowards would be tried for their crimes. He never stopped believing”.
On her turn, Mercedes Carazo told how she met Dagmar during her kidnaping and her father’s asking her to testify: “I was afraid of testifying because the country where I lived was not a full democracy. However, I couldn’t resist to a father’s request. I had experienced the desperation of not knowing what was happening with my daughter when she spent hours at ESMA. It helped me make a decision because if we were alive, we had to testify”.
Silvia Labayrú also described how she met Dagmar during her activism in Montoneros, and later during her kidnapping in the ESMA clandestine center of detention. She also asked viewers to honor Dagmar’s father: “We don’t hear enough about the role of fathers. There were many like him, who joined the human rights organisms and minded us, looked for us, took care of us, often accepting the fact that they had to subject themselves to the orders and whims of repressors”.
Finally, Stella Segado stated: “For quite some time I’ve been going over our task of reconstruction. I think my task has, like any other policy of memory, a way of thinking about the past as if it was ahead of us. Because I think the only way for the future to follow us is having history ahead of us.”
More than 500 people in Argentina and other parts of the world followed the event through the Museum’s Facebook page and YouTube channel. They participated with comments and questions to the speakers.