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Author, film researcher and member of the Swedish Military History Commission.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Catastrophic Love

An unexpected and very moving love story. From Sweden to South Africa and back.

If you are reading this you probably know that my research, as well as this blog, is focused on conflicts. Well, lately I have become more interested in southern Africa - due to the armed conflicts there during the classic Cold War years, that involved also South African, US, Soviet and Cuban weapons & forces.

I am now going to write a bit about a South Africa book that you may be surprised to find here. It is an autobiography by a Swedish missionary, Eivor Jele. In 1963 Mrs. Jele left Sweden for South Africa. She was prepared for a lot but not to fully confront the apartheid system - nor to fall in love with a local man. This is the thing with her book, in spite of having read about the apartheid system since my school days, it was only this book that truly made me realize a number of things about the nature of the system. Aside from that, this book is a strong love story that starts with a "catastrophe". Mrs. Jele is a talented writer, and one feels both her love pains and smiles.

I cordially recommend this book to all Swedish-speakers with an interest in Africa. The title of the book would in translation be (Im)possible. It is so far only available in Swedish, as (O)möjligt. It is available through any Swedish library.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Mosul´s Swedish Commander

Uniforms of the Swedish-led Persian gendarmerie were a mix of Sweden and Persia.

The Iraqi city of Mosul is in the global news, but few are aware of the fact that a Swedish volunteer was once in command of the city. His name was Knut Killander and he was from Stockholm. He was part of the Swedish officer contingent serving in Persia between 1911 and 1916, who were split up by the outbreak of World War One.

Captain Knut Killander survived Mosul and other postings during WWI and joined an insurance business, to die peacefully in 1951. His fate is one of many strange and exotic ones in Swedes at War 1914-45, available in both English and Swedish. Some artifacts from the Swedish volunteers in Persia, such as the above headgear, can now be seen in the Army Museum in Stockholm.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

The King´s Choice

The new Norwegian WWII movie "The King´s Choice".

I am really, really keen to see this new Norwegian movie, about the German invasion on April 9, 1940 and the immediate aftermath. The Norwegian king looks a lot like the real man, and everything else looks good too, at least in the above trailer.

It has after just a few weeks become Norway's most-watched film of the year. Any day now half a million Norwegians will have seen it.

Oscar stuff, perhaps?

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

German Eyes On Nordic States

Tore Pryser´s magnificent book about German intelligence in the Nordic region.

Norwegian Professor Tore Pryser´s so far probably most important book is about the German intelligence services in the Nordic states - which is also the title in Norwegian of the book in question (Tyske hemmelige tjenester i Norden). Sadly, it has not yet been translated. But if you can understand Norwegian you really should get it, as it is a goldmine.

This book differs from almost all books about WWII in the Nordic area, as it does NOT start in 1939 and it is NOT limited to one of the Nordic states. Instead, Pryser starts his original study in the early 1930s and looks at how Nazism in the Nordic states, although small, was the foundation for much of the northern activities of the German secret services. Not being limited in scope to Norway, Pryser is also able to tell the full story - as northern German intelligence operations not seldom were cross-border ops.

Another great bonus with this book is that it does not stop in 1945 but rather in 1950. The book also looks at German war aims and war plans, e.g. against Sweden.

So, if you have a serious interest in Nordic WWII history, Tyske hemmelige tjenester i Norden is a real must.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Spanish Civil War & Narvik

One of the about 200 Norwegians who fought in Spain 1936-39.

The Swedish cover photo of the unknown Norwegian member of the International Brigades in Spain is one of several links between Sweden and the about 200 Norwegians in the Spanish Civil War. But this book also is a good reminder about Narvik.

The title of the book Tusen dager. Norge og den spanske borgerkrigen (“A thousand days. Norway and the Spanish Civil War”) is explained by the fact that the war lasted 989 days. I like the poetic title, and I am very impressed by all the history and photographs that the authors have dug up. The book´s authors Jo Stein Moen and Rolf Saether tell the story of how the Spanish Civil War affected Norway, and recount the experiences of the about 200 Norwegian volunteers - of which most were on the side of the republic. As is the case with the about 550 Swedish volunteers in Spain, only a small number fought on Franco´s side. In Norway´s case it was seven men. Although few, they too are covered in the book, not least the later SS-volunteer Per Imerslund.

The authors estimate that about 50 Norwegians died for the republic, slightly more than previously thought. In other words, every fourth Norwegian died. On this very day, the tenth of October, in the year 2000, the last surviving Norwegian veteran passed away.

Gladly, not just the International Brigades are covered, but also the joint Swedish-Norwegian hospital on the republican side. Not that many years ago I was talking to its last surviving member.

The book also describes what happened afterwards and I especially appreciate the part about the Spanish Civil War veterans who fought at Narvik 1940. In the war cemetery there rest 118 members of the French Foreign Legion - 16 of them are Spanish.

There is a website about the book, with a section in English - here is the link to that section.

I hereby would like to tell the authors how sorry I am it took so very long until I could review your fine book.