KRISTIANSTAD, SWEDEN, AND THE BALTIC SEA SOCIETY AND ITS JOURNAL MARE BALTICUM – AN IMPORTANT CONTRIBUTION TO THE STUDY OF CULTURAL INFLUENCES IN THE “NORTHERN MEDITERRANEAN”

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 thousands 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 of this important journal was Professor Friedrich Seebass in Kristianstad, Scania, in southeastern Sweden. The editorial committee consisted of Professor Alf Aberg, Danish journalist and MP Karl Boegholm, Dr Birger Hagård, Swedish MP, three intellectuals exiled in Sweden, Endel Krepp, Arturs Landsmanis, Juozas Lingis, from Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania respectively, then occupied by the Soviet Union. Last but not least there were Professor Birger Nerman, the famous Swedish archaeologist, and Professor Johannes Paul in Hamburg, Germany.

In the first issue of the journal Nerman published, for instance, an introduction of the society 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 Pomerania on the northern coast of Germany.

It is important in 2016 to remember the activities of the Baltic Sea Society (Ostersjosallskapet (Sw.). and Ostseegesellschaft (German) 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.

A Bibliographical Note

Mare Balticum is available at several Swedish libraries across the country and of course in Germany as well. The journal is a valuable source for information on a millennium of different types of cultural contacts between neighbors. The peaceful development in relations between Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Poland, and Sweden is a great achievement. Especially important as an example is how the union between Norway and Sweden was peacefully dissolved in 1905.

The world after the dissolution of the Soviet empire was not to be the eternal peace described by German philosopher Immanuel Kant but rather the more realistic world of the great English realist philosopher Thomas Hobbes of the seventeenth century.

In “Scanians, Scania and Scanialand – Ethnic Problems and Regionalisation in Northern Europe” (Migracijske teme, A Journal for Migration and Ethnic Studies published by the Institute for Migration and Ethnic Studies, Zagreb, Croatia, 2000) Swedish author Bertil Häggman examined the role of the southern Swedish problem of Scania in the context of cross-cultural exchange in the Baltic Sea region. Scania and Scanialand have been subject to diverse fates.

From being the original home of the Lombards (Langobards) via the core of the Danish realm to a province in the periphery of Sweden from 1658. During the eighteenth century Scania was Swedenized, which however did not entirely result in its being incorporated in the new state. Although the masters have changed, the region has kept its identity especially in the case of language and culture. Sweden’s membership in the European Union during the 1990s has brought new possibilities for the old contested region. Scania became from the 1st of January 1997 once again one single administrative province and a part of the Oresund Region (Danmark – Sweden) and of the region Pomerania in Germany.

Fixed links to Denmark increase the growth potential. The link between Copenhagen (Denmark) and Malmö (Sweden) was completed in the year 2000, and possibly a railway tunnel under the Sound between Helsingborg and Helsingor in the beginning of the twentyfirst century has brought added prospects for Scania/Scanialand. It will be part of a region, which can measure up to the foremost in the United States, Europe and Japan.

The article is available on Internet. KEY WORDS: Scanians, Scania, Scanialand, ethnicity, regionalization, Sweden, Danmark

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