BALTIC SEA SOCIETY AND THE JOURNAL MARE BALTICUM 50 YEARS

After the collapse of the Soviet Union there has been an increase of cultural and economic activities linking Denmark, Finland, Sweden, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Germany across the waters of the Baltic Sea.

The predecessor for these activities was a society initiated in Germany but with an active participation of Scandinavians who cared about Baltic Sea culture. For thousand of years the community flourished already before the Viking Era. During the Era of Great Migration Scandinavian peoples pushed southward to the Black and Caspian Sea areas. Hanseatic merchants opened trading offices.

Opening links to the East with trade was an important part of the countries around the “Northern Mediterranean” for cities like Malmö, Karlskrona, Kalmar, Roskilde, Turku/Åbo, Copenhagen and Stockholm as well as Lübeck, Reval, Riga, Gdansk/Danzig and Stettin. The era between the First and Second World Wars was a time when the contacts between cultures were especially strong.

It was important for the Baltic Sea Society, created in the 1960s, to initiate the publication of the journal Mare Balticum. It came to be published quarterly and articles appeared in Scandinavian languages as well as in English, German and French. Chief editor was Professor Friedrich Seebass in the Kristianstad area of the Province of Scania in Southern Sweden. The editorial committee consisted of Professor Alf Åberg, Danish journalist and MP Karl Bøgholm, Assistant Professor Birger Hagård, Swedish MP, three intellectuals exiled in Sweden, Endel Krepp, Arturs Landsmanis, Juozas Lingis, from the three Baltic countries, then occupied by the Soviet Union. Last but not least there were Professor Birger Nerman, the Swedish archaeologist, and Professor Johannes Paul in Hamburg, Germany.

In the first issue of the journal Nerman published an introduction in English. Bishop Helge Ljungberg, Stockholm, informed about Ansgar, the Apostle of the North. Professor Bertil Ohlin, party leader of the Swedish Liberal Party contributed the text of a speech in connection with the celebration of Estonia’s National Day. Dr Martin Koch wrote about the ferry connections between Scandinavia and the continent.

Of vital importance for the publication of Mare Balticum was the League of Exiled Pomeranians based in Lübeck-Travemünde, Germany. Since 1988 there is a Baltic Sea Academy (Ostseeakademie) for the study of culture, history and economy of Pommern on the northern coast of Germany.

It is important in 2015 to remember the activities of Östersjösällskapet/Ostseegesellschaft and Mare Balticum when the free and democratic countries around the Baltic Sea are once more threatened by Russia seeking to re-create the Soviet Union.

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