Archive for November, 2015


November 12, 2015

In the field of geopolitics and geostrategy, islands are important geographic features. Their location at sea and isolation from the continental landmasses often provide good positions for attack, surveillance, support and special activities of different kinds.

Examples of such islands are Diego Garcia (UK/USA), Lampedusa, south of Italy, and various islands and island groups in the Pacific. The South China Sea islands are gradually occupied by China without much opposition from the West.

France’s Southern Indian Ocean Maritime Zone, Australian islands in the South Pacific, India’s islands in the Indian Ocean, The Nicobar and Andaman Islands are of strategic importance.

For the United Kingdom The Falklands are vital for forward security in the South Atlantic Ocean.

In case of a Russian attack on Sweden the Aland Islands in the Baltic Sea close to Stockholm would be attractive targets as well as the Island of Gotland (Swedish territory). It is presently more and less undefended by Swedish Armed Forces.



November 12, 2015

Der Spiegel, Germany, on August 23, 2012, published an interview with French philosopher André Glucksmann. He then found the situation in Europe “extremely unsettling.” In November 2015 Glucksmann passed away 78 years old. In the midst of the ongoing refugee crisis his vision from 2015 must be remembered. In the Spiegel interview he discussed the failure of the European intellectual elite.

André Glucksmann was one of the so-called New Philosophers, who turned away from their Marxist beginnings after 1968 and wrote off Soviet-style totalitarianism. He was well known for his two books “The Cook and the Cannibal” and “The Master Thinkers.” His parents were Eastern European Jews and lived in Palestine and Germany before fleeing in 1937 to France, where Glucksmann was born in the same year. Glucksmann persistently criticized Europe for its tendency to close its eyes to the persistent presence of evil in the world.

SPIEGEL: Mr. Glucksmann, in light of the intellectual and existential experiences you had in the 20th century as an anti-totalitarian thinker, are you worried about Europe’s future?

Glucksmann: I’ve never believed that all the dangers were averted after the end of fascism and communism. History doesn’t come to a standstill. Europe didn’t step out of (history) when the Iron Curtain disappeared, even if it has occasionally seemed to want to. Democracies tend to ignore or forget the tragic dimensions of history. In this sense, I would say: Yes, current developments are extremely unsettling.

SPIEGEL: Since its beginnings 60 years ago, the European community has almost always stumbled from one crisis to the next. Setbacks are part of its normal mode of operation.

Glucksmann: A sense of crisis characterizes the modern European era. From it, one can draw the general conclusion that Europe actually isn’t a state or a community in the national sense, which grows together organically. It also can’t be compared with the ancient Greek city-states, which, despite their differences and rivalries, formed a single cultural unit.

Glucksmann: Since the Greeks — from Socrates to Plato to Aristotle — Western philosophy has inherited two fundamental principles: Man is not the measure of all things, and he isn’t immune to failure and evil. Nevertheless, he is responsible for himself, and for everything he does or refrains from doing.

Glucksmann: The Balkan wars in the former Yugoslavia and the murderous incendiary actions of the Russians in the Caucasus didn’t happen that long ago. The European Union came together to oppose three evils: the memory of Hitler, the Holocaust, racism and extreme nationalism; Soviet communism in the Cold War; and, finally, colonialism…These three evils gave rise to a common understanding of democracy, a civilizing central theme of Europe.

Germany decided to embark on its transition to renewable energy on its own, ignoring the European dimension. Everyone is negotiating individually with Russia for oil and gas, Germany signed an agreement to build the Baltic Sea pipeline despite the resistance of Poland and Ukraine, and Italy is involved in the South Stream pipeline through the Black Sea.

…it makes things easy for Russia under (President Vladimir) Putin. Despite all the weakness of that giant of natural resources, its capacity to cause damage remains considerable and is something its president likes to use. Recklessness and forgetfulness create the conditions for new catastrophes in both the economy and politics.


November 7, 2015

Through MS such as the Codex Argenteus (Uppsala University Library) Gothic is reasonably well documented. Also Crimean Gothic is represented with a list of words by diplomat Busbecq in the sixteenth century.

Goti, Gauti, and Guti and Göta älv (Gautic River) in Sweden – A Few Notes on a Tribal Name

In the ancient world there were different Germanic and non-Germanic peoples like the Vandals, Visigoths, Ostrogoths, Gepids, Rugians, Sciri, and Burgundians. They had a common faith (Arianism) and law, Lex Gothica, and similar languages. The Amal Origo Gothica, however, limited the classification of Goths to a Scandinavian origin (Visigoths, Ostrogoths and Gepids).

The form Gut- (as in Guti) can be found in names like Gota alv, as the river of the Goti is called. Procopius wrote about the Gauts of Thule. The hotly debated question is if the Guti are connected to Gota alv (and Västergotland or West Gothia) or to Östergötland and and the island of Gutland (now named Gotland) in the Baltic Sea or all three.

The Gothic name can be found in several regions in Europe. Connected to for instance (V)andalusia is Gothia-Alania. Vastergotland, Ostergotland and Gutland are however original Gautic-Gothic names.

It has been noted by Piergiuseppe Scardigli (in The Nordic Languages – An International Handbook of the History of the North Germanic Languages, Vol. 1, Berlin/New York 2002, p. 556) that the name of Gutland contains in its first component the people name Goths. The name of the island is athematic, as in Gut- in Guthiuda (dat.).

“There can be no doubt that the identical name for the Goths lies behind both forms. There are two possible explanations for the name of the island. Perhaps the Goths had settled there and a small tribal group emigrated, whose population later greatly increased. Conversely, the Goths could have reached the island at an early time and settled there (see Reinhard Wenskus, Stammesbildung und Verfassung. Das Werden der frühmittelalterliche gentes, Köln/Graz 1961/1977, p. 464 ff.). In both cases these Goths were later assimilated and the Gutnic language became North Germanic.”

The migration of the Goths from South Scandinavia, perhaps the most prominent of the East Germanic peoples is described in Getica (25-27) by Jordanes as a coming forth from Scandza, a hive of races or a womb of nations under their king Berig. When landing on the Polish coast at the mouth of the River Vistula they named the place Gothiscandza. The peoples sailed in three ships, so the myth, of which one was manned by the Gepids, and the two other by Goths.

The general view has been that the migrants came from the provinces of Västergötland and Östergötland on the southern part of the Scandinavian Peninsula or/and the Island of Gotland in the Baltic Sea.

The tribal designation of the gøtar (the inhabitants of the Götaland Region in now South Sweden), is closely related to the designations Goth (gutans) and Old Swedish gutar (Gotlanders), which formally correspond to each other (compare Västergötland, Östergötland and Gotland). It has however not been possible with traditional archaelogical technique either in South Scandinavia or in northern Poland to establish a specific link between Gauts, Gotlanders and Goths.

There are also other possible migrations from South Scandinavia. Vendsyssel, the northern area of the Jutland peninsula, has been regarded as original home of the Vandals, who ended up founding a kingdom in North Africa during the Fifth Century AD. According to History of the Langobards by Paul the Deacon the Lombards originated in Scadinavia (which has been interpreted as Skåne Province (Scania) in southernmost Sweden. Furthermore the Burgundians have been thought to originate on the Island of Bornholm (older name Burgundarholm) in the Baltic Sea. The elusive Eruli (in this case the Eastern Eruli) joined the Goths in the Black Sea area attacking Asia Minor and in the Eastern Mediterranean in the Third Century AD (The World Crisis of the Third Century AD). Part of the people remigrated to Scandinavia to settle near the remaining Gauts according to historian Procopius. There are further examples, but those mentioned above are the most prominent.

In the 1990s a Swedish scholar (Ingemar Nordgren in The Well Spring of the Goths) expressed the view that the names of the Gothic peoples are theophoric and originally seems to be linked with the creator-god Gaut. Gothic ethnicity could thus have been founded on a common cult with its religious origin in southern and southwestern Scandinavia, an area also embracing southern Jutland.

So far scholars have not been able to solve the question of the origin of the Goths and a number of other ancient Germanic peoples. Therefore we could in the future be looking for a solution in the study of ancient DNA.


November 7, 2015

Sweden and Ukraine are on November 27, 2015, commemorating the 300th Anniversary of the arrival of Hetman Orlyk to Sweden.


Ukrainian Hetman Pylyp Orlyk was the successor of Hetman Ivan Mazepa. He was elected hetman in 1710 in exile in Bendery (present day Moldavia). Orlyk was to continue the struggle of Mazepa for Ukrainian independence until his death in 1742. In 1710 he was the main author of Ukraine’s first constitution.
In 1713, when Charles XII was planning to return to Sweden from present day Moldavia he invited the hetman, family and government to go into exile, this time in Sweden. The journey from Moldavia to Sweden was planned and executed by Swedish General Axel Sparre (1652 – 1728). Sparre reported regularly to the king on what happened during the journey.

The only mention in the 1714 – 1715 letters of General Sparre of the Ukrainian kozaks in the group is when he notes that he provided Mrs. Orlyk with horses for her and her servants (and children, one must assume).

The next letter of Sparre is dated Vienna, December 1714. The presence of the group in the Austrian capital is confirmed by a letter of Pylyp Orlyk to the king dated Vienna, January 1, 1715.

The Swedish general in his letter is lauding the Austrian commander of Siebenbürgen, Count Steinville (Cronstadt), who had well prepared for the Swedish-Kozak group. Count Heinrich Wilhelm Wilcek is also mentioned. He, according to Sparre, accompanied them through Hungary and was in the letter supposed to leave at Ingolstadt in Bavaria. There is also a mention of Regensburg, Bavaria, in the letter.

In the next message to King Charles XII, dated Nuremburg (Bavaria) in January 29, 1715, it is made clear that the Swedes and Kozaks were headed for Hesse-Cassel. The Swedish connections with this German duchy were good. General Sparre later at Gieboldehausen (near Hanover) then situated in the Duchy of Eichsfeld handed over command to General Carl Gustaf Hård (an officer of the king’s Bodyguard Detachment, drabanter) and the group proceeded to Hanover. There is a letter of February 14, 1715, dated Cassel (now Kassel in Germany).

Orlyk, Family and Government in Stralsund and on the Island of Rügen 1715

The Ukrainian group was now on the last leg of its journey. The nearest Swedish territory was Swedish Pomerania in present day Germany. It had been in Swedish hands since the Thirty Year’s War and the Swedish king was Duke of Pomerania in a rather complicated peace agreement that in Vorpommern (as it is now called in German) the German emperor was the feudal lord of the king of Sweden and that Stockholm sent representatives to the Reichstag of the German empire. Now with Sweden on the retreat the territory was threatened by the anti-Swedish coalition of Denmark, Russia and Saxony. King Charles XII had arrived in Stralsund (the largest town with at the time around 10,000 inhabitants) in November, 1714, to aid in the defense against the besieging armies. An estimated 50,000 coalition troops would in 1715 close in on Stralsund. To defend Pomerania there were around 13,000 Swedish troops, many of them Pomeranians. The Swedish fleet had been defeated and the sea link to the Swedish town of Ystad in Scania Province was threatened.

During the spring and summer of 1715 the siege of Stralsund was moving at a slow pace. Orlyk and his family now lived in Grahlhof (Altefähr)on the side of the Island of Ruegen near the Strela sound dividing Stralsund and the mainland from the island. The building of that time (1715) is no more and it was in the nineteenth century replaced by a manor house. When the Orlyks lived there the site belonged to a monastery in Stralsund (St. Jürgen).

In the fall of 1715 the situation was becoming hopeless for the defenders of Stralsund. In the beginning of December the king left for Sweden and later in the month the Orlyk family were evacuated on a Swedish ship that managed to pass through the blockade to Ystad. A letter from Orlyk to the king in Latin dated Ystad is preserved.
During the Siege of Stralsund in the Great Northern War (1700 – 1721) the Swedish Empire defended her Swedish Pomeranian port of Stralsund against a coalition of Denmark-Norway, the Electorate of Saxony and the Tsardom of Russia, which was joined by Prussia during the siege.

A first attempt to take Stralsund was made in 1711, when the allies closed in on the town. Swedish relief forced the coalition to withdraw from the fortifications. General Magnus Stenbock’s victory at Gadebusch for a short time distracted the allies, but after Stenbock’s pursuit and subsequent defeat, Prussia as well as Hanover, ruled in personal union with Great Britain, joined the anti-Swedish alliance.

In 1714 Charles XII of Sweden returned to Stralsund from his exile in present day Moldavia (then a part of the Ottoman Empire). He then took charge of the defense of Stralsund in person. From July 12 to December 24, 1715, the allies besieged the town and forced its surrender. Charles XII managed to return to Sweden by ship and his ally, Ukrainian Hetman Pylyp Orlyk, with family and his government also managed to return by ship to Sweden. The Ukrainians had since the arrival in Stralsund lived on the southern part of the Island of Rügen on the estate Grahlhof in Altefähr.

More on the Siege of Stralsund 1711 – 1715

In 1711 the Swedish government had issued mobilization orders for Swedish Pomerania on April 8. The same year the siege of Stralsund started.

When the Swedish forces withdrew to their fortified strongholds of Stralsund, Stettin (Szczecin) and Wismar (another Swedish city to the west of Pomerania), around 6,000 Saxons, 6,000 Poles, and 12,000 Russians pursued the Swedish forces. About 25,000 Danes moved via Holstein-Gottorp and approached Stralsund from the west.

After the arrival of a Swedish relief army under General Magnus Stenbock the besieging allies retreated. In the following years they had a reduced activity with only minor raids. In May of 1712 new reinforcements arrived from Sweden with around 6,500 men infantry and 4,800 cavalry. All Swedish forces from around garrisons in all of Pomerania were now concentrated to Stralsund which added around 8,000 men to the defense of the town. The allies had a force of around 23,000.

Denmark was interested in taking over Pomerania which was of strategic importance as a bridgehead into the Holy Roman Empire. It was also an exporter of wool and grain. The first Danish claims to northern Swedish Pomerania were from1713. When Prussia, also seeking to annex Swedish Pomerania, joined the allies a Danish-Prussian treaty was concluded partitioning Swedish Pomerania along the river Peene, with Denmark being assured her claims for the northern part with Stralsund. August II of Saxony protested against the Danish-Prussian treaty and the Danes tended to reduce their military efforts in the coalition after the treaty.

General Stenbock’s forces leaving Pomerania turned west with 16,000 men, leaving 3,000 men to strengthen the garrison in Stralsund. The Swedish victory at Gadebusch in Mecklenburg and subsequent westward movement distracted the allies for a time from the siege. After the Battle of Gadebusch the Swedes under Stenbock were pursued by circa 36,000 Poles, Russians and Saxons. At Tönning in southern Denmark the Swedes were defeated and the allies could now concentrate once more on Stralsund. On September 29, 1713, Stettin was captured, which was the second largest fortress town in Swedish Pomerania.

Charles XII of Sweden on his arrival in Stralsund in 1714 envisioned that the town would constitute the base of a renewed Swedish attack on Peter I. His plans were a two-fold assault on Russia of a Swedish army from Pomerania and a Turkish army from the south. When Charles XII reached Stralsund the town’s garrison had a 17,000 men defense force.

In April 1715, Prussia declared war on Sweden. The Danish navy was assisted in the siege by eight British vessels, commanded by Admiral John Norris. In July, the allied forces closed in on Stralsund from the landside, and in November a combined Danish-Saxon-Prussian army landed at Stresow and took the island of Rügen north of the town. The defendants surrendered on Christmas Eve and Stralsund became the administrative center of the new Danish Pomerania which lasted 1715 – 1720.

After the surrender of Stralsund the Danish administration was organized under commanding General von Stöcken and 1028 Swedish prisoners of war were detained in the town. By the end of the Great Northern War in 1720 Stralsund and Pomerania were, however, returned to Sweden.

The estate of Grahlhof is described in the Swedish Cadastral Mapping of Pomerania. In the 17th century. Of interest is to find out more about the state of the estate in 1715 when the Ukrainians resided there. When was the estate originally built? What about ownership from the ime of its construction?

It is possible that there is information on this in Swedish archives but it would be necessary to find out if there is information in archives and libraries in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern.
It has so far only been possible to find three documents in the Swedish National Archive relating to Hetman Orlyk’s residence in Pomerania. There are possibly more documents still undiscovered.


November 3, 2015

Bizmag on May 13, 2014 published on Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) developing a complex roadmap for solar energy. It involves a 1 GW extraterrestrial solar farm, a microwave beam and a man-made island in the Tokyo harbor which could be used collect solar energy in space and supply power to Earth by 2040. Excerpts below:

It was just over 40 years ago that the concept of a solar power satellite (SPS) first emerged. American scientist and aerospace engineer Dr. Peter Glaser won a patent for a broadcast system using a one-square kilometer antenna to channel power via microwaves to a receiver on the ground. The advantage of such a system, and space-based solar power in general, is that it harnesses the unobstructed output of the sun, unlike land-based solar systems which are affected by the weather and Earth’s day/night cycle.

While Glaser’s proposal never got off the ground, it did inspire further investigation of the potential of space-based solar power by various government departments and institutions

JAXA is working on two concepts. The simpler one involves a huge square panel that measures 2 km (1.24 mi) per side. The top surface would be covered with photovoltaic elements, with transmission antennas on the bottom side. A small bus housing controls and communication systems would be tethered to the panel via 10 km (6.2 mi) long wires. A limitation with this design is that the orientation of the panel is fixed, meaning that as the Earth and the satellite spin, the amount of sunlight the panel receives will vary, impacting its ability to generate power.

Comment: Space based solar energy is the way forward to solve the growing need for more electric power.