Eighty years ago, in April 1937, The Salvation Army headquarters in Stockholm, Sweden published Commissioner Karl Larsson’s book, Ten Years in Russia. The book received wide attention and was reprinted in several editions. Disappointingly, it was never translated into the English language, which meant that its story never became known outside the Scandinavian countries. The Second World War placed obstacles in the way of many enterprises and the wider distribution of the book was presumably among them.
Commissioner Karl Larsson was a strategist and possessed a work capacity and acumen without equal. Despite the Larsson’s demanding schedule as territorial leaders with a far-reaching travel agenda, he found time every week to write articles in the War Cry with a focus on making society more wholesome, and to write numerous books.
Now, with the publication of Sven Ljungholm’s book. Return to Battle in Russia and Beyond, a wide chasm is bridged dating from the early twentieth century pioneers to the present day. The fact that Sven Ljungholm’s grandparents, Brigadiers Otto and Gerda Ljungholm were among the Swedish officers who constituted the pioneer team, and that he was among those who re-planted the Salvation banner in Russia makes the book especially compelling, relevant and vibrant by the inclusion of familiar experience. He has, through his book, summarized the early pioneers’ struggle and amplified it by the inclusion of his own and his wife’s experiences when returning to re-establish the work (Volume Two). The summary he provides of the Army’s in-progress and Russian historical events and the concurrent political development offers a meaningful perspective for readers.
On a personal level I sensed a link to the pioneer work in my childhood when I heard my parents speak about their comrade soldier Captain Hulda Nord, who was a member of the early pioneering team. In my home hangs a simple, but treasured, painting depicting the Ural Mountains in Russia that the pioneer Salvationist gifted to my parents.
The book, which you the reader are now holding, depicts a thrilling and adventurous era of the Salvation Army’s history. It’s a story of love for the Russian people and the pioneers’ zeal to bring the Gospel message to the vast Russian empire.
It’s with pleasure that I commend this book and thank Sven Ljungholm who so skillfully interpreted this holy adventure. Through the research conducted, coupled with his zealous documentation, he has bequeathed The Salvation Army with one more treasured chapter in the church’s heroic history.