Thursday, August 25, 2016

The Lesson of History

March, 1918
Colonel Karl Larsson sent a report to the Swedish SA publication; Stridsropet – (The War Cry in English)
The circumstances in Petrograd (St. Petersburg) were at this time insufferable. The officials reported that there were up to 980 cholera cases daily, to which were added small pox, typhoid fever, and typhus. The deaths were so numerous that we had to abstain from all funeral ceremonies. In order to bury a child who died in our children’s home, our staff is having to wait at the church graveyard from early morning to late at night. Horses that starved to death would remain on streets for up to ten days before they were transported away. During that period starving dogs would tear large chunks from the carcasses. Hundreds of people died of starvation. They were frightful days. In addition to Captain Olson’s death we had three Swedish officers, including the War College Principal, all sidelined with various illnesses. We feared that they too had been affected by smallpox.

In 1915 Larsson had written in 'All the World': "There is no other organisation which meets the need of the Russian people and is in harmony with Russian mentality as ours. But we must hurry in order to take advantage of the changes which are likely to follow the war."

Quoting this in his later book, Karl Larsson added: "Sadly, help was too long in coming. Our history in Russia would perhaps have been different had this not been so."

General Burrows is determined not to repeat the same mistake. "We cannot and must .not let that happen again," she said. "The Latin phrase 'carpe diem' means 'seize the day' or 'catch the moment'. We could say 'redeem the time' in scriptural language. And we must do so."

No sooner had the General issued her red alert than the world’s largest military aircraft, fifty three C5s, with US Air Force insignias, began to lift off from the Rhein Main Air Base near Frankfurt, Germany bound for Moscow, Russia with a ETA three hours later. To the uninformed Muscovite the scene of the massive lumbering, descending US Air Force aircraft, one touching down only minutes behind  the other, must have been an overwhelming and intimidating sight. World War III?
Waiting on the tarmac of Moscow’s Sheremetyevo International Airport were some twenty or so Russian military officers and hundreds of conscripted soldiers dressed smartly in their Red Army winter uniforms and standing at attention. They flanked a small group huddled against the wind and swirling snow, dressed in civilian clothes. And next to them were two others in heavy dark uniform overcoats, with the insignia ‘C’ on their red epaulets, Captains Sven and Kathie Ljungholm representing the Salvation Army’s total official strength in Moscow. The SA would be taking delivery of several thousand tons of food-stuffs and other humanitarian aid, the only organization entrusted to do so by both President Bush and President Yeltsin. Eighty thousands Muscovites would receive a daily warm and nutritious meal in the 47 Russian restaurants manned by or overseen by SA staff and volunteers.

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