DR SIGFRID LEOPOLD OF SNÄCKESTAD: A LEADING PIETIST IN SOUTHERN SWEDEN

December 2, 2017

Dr. Sigfrid Leopold of Snäckestad (in Vanga, northeast of Kristianstad) was born in 1640 in Spremberg, Germany, and is buried in the local churchyard. He emigrated to Sweden and married Helena Broomé (1655 – 1725), who was a daughter of a renowned English chemist, Tomas Broom, who had also emigrated to Sweden in the 17th century.

Dr. Leopold was a medical doctor and influenced by German pietism. Snäckestad developed into a Pietist center in province Scania, southern Sweden, for early Swedish pietism.

One of his sons, Thomas C. Leopold (1693 – 1771) was a Pietist prophet and martyr in Sweden. He served 32 years in prison for his beliefs and died in 1771 in Fortress Bohus, a correctional facility on the Swedish west coast.

Another son of Dr. Leopold was Daniel Leopold (1698 – 1737), who became a customs officer. A son of his, grandson of Dr. Leopold of Snäckestad, Carl Gustaf Leopold (enobled af Leopold; 1756 – 1829) rose to become state secretary of King Gustavus III and a member of the Swedish Academy. He first attracted attention as a poet with ”Ode on the Birth of the Prince-Royal Gustavus Adolphus” in 1778. He was later also private secretary to the king. One of the successes of his was the tragic theatrical play ”Virginia”. C G Leopold also translated the poem ”An die Freude” by Friedrich von Schiller into Swedish. This German poem is now with music from Ludwig von Beethoven (part of the Ninth Symphony) the anthem of the European Union and the European Council.

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PIETISM IN THE ARMY OF SWEDEN’S KING CHARLES XII IN SIBERIA FROM 1709 to 1722 AND SWEDISH SIBERIAN EXPLORERS 1709 to 1761

December 2, 2017

Introduction

Pietism in the Army of Sweden’s King Charles XII in Siberia from 1709 to 1722 is an important part of the history of pietism in Scandinavia. After the battle of Poltava in 1709 in Ukraine the king and his ally, Ukrainian Hetman Ivan Mazepa managed with a few of their armies to escape to Ottoman territory (present day Moldavia). King Charles left it to his leading generals to decide if the main Swedish army was to retreat to the Crimean Khanate, an ally of Sweden, to continue the fight, or surrender. The over 20,000 strong army including almost 2,000 women and children did surrender and the captives were marched by foot to Moscow to be humiliated in a march through the Russian capital guarded by Russian officers and soldiers. After this end to the march from the village of Perevolochna to Moscow the prisoners were divided up. A great part was sent to the capital of Siberia, Tobolsk, while others were forced to work in the newly established Russian shipyards at St. Petersburg on the Baltic Sea and Voronets on the Black Sea.

Many of the prisoners, their wives and children died during the years in captivity and it is estimated that only 25 percent of them could return to Sweden in 1722 after the Peace Treaty at Nystad, Finland, was signed in 1721.

The First Contacts

In his thesis ”Yttre kyla och inre glöd – Pietismen bland Karl XII:s Karoliner i Sibirien 1709-1722” (Freezing Outside and Fire inside – Pietism among the Army of Charles XII in Siberia 1709-1722) in history of theology Marcus Johansson has in 2012 (University of Stockholm) brought to life the harrowing experience of the soldier families in Tobolsk and how they reached out for spiritual guidance to the leading pietist in Germany, August Hermann Francke of Halle.

Johansson in his work has studied both published and unpublished material. He concludes that the evangelical movement had its origin in the piety of the Swedish soldiers of the age combined with their situation of deprivation in captivity. The spiritual origins came from Halle and German pietism. The focus was on conversion, struggle against sin and participation in conventicles combined with social activities in education in a school that in practice was a children’s home. Bible reading was important, the views concerning divine retribution and the belief that grace only could save man. The representatives of the state Church of Sweden allowed the pietists in Tobolsk to express their religious belief as long as it did not compete with Lutheran orthodoxy.

Pietism, Francke and the Swedish Prisoners

Pietism began with Philipp Jakob Spener (1635 – 1705), who was born in Alsace and had a devout Christian upbringing. in Rappoltsweiler, a village in upper Alsace, northwest of what is present day Colmar, France. He was raised by his devout Christian and pious parents, and entered the University of Strassburg in 1651 and completed his studies in 1659. After that he did some travelling, first to Basel in Switzerland, and then to Geneva, Switzerland. Here, he listened to the preachings of French reformed preacher Jean de Labadie (1610 – 1674) who was calling for a true belief and holy living.

In 1675 he published his Pia desideria proposing reform. Firstly he suggested a greater emphasis and use of the Bible, including institute small group Bible studies. The second proposal was about the priesthood. Thirdly he wrote that knowledge of Christian doctrine was not enough, for Christianity consisted also of practice. The unbelievers and heretics should be prayed for, corrected with loving admonition and led back to Christianity by living a godly example of the Christian life was the fourth proposal. This approach should be used instead of disputation, polemics and virulent personal attacks. Fifthly, universities and schools should encourage godly, instead of worldly, living amongst their students. The sixth proposal was that sermons should be written with the goal of instilling faith and its fruits in the listener to the greatest possible degree. There was generally a very positive public response to the book, but also opposition.

In 1686 Spener was called to become court preacher in Saxony. Shortly after the arrival in Dresden Spener was informed about a conventicle which was administered by August Hermann Francke (1663 – 1727) and Paul Anton (1661 – 1730). Francke had studied at Leipzig University and later lectured there but his employment was terminated and conventicles were forbidden by the Saxon government.

Later Francke was ordained as pastor in Erfurt but had to leave the city in 1691. Soon thereafter he was called to Halle and appointed professor of Greek and Oriental languages. Halle would later be known around the world as a center of pietism. It was in Halle that Francke started to develop his famous foundations. He started a school for poor children and later in 1696 an orphanage, a hospital, a bookstore, a home for widows, a library, a bakery, a brewery and an art museum. A print shop for bibles was opened in 1697. In 1710 a Bible Institute was created and the world’s first Bible Society. Pietism in Scandinavia first took hold in Denmark and Francke helped the Danes to send missionaries to the trading post of Tranquebar, India.

In 1713 nine Swedish officers imprisoned in Tobolsk had written to Francke in Halle requesting aid in education, medical facilities, and libraries. He was positive and provided money, medicine, books and equipment. This resulted in the creation of pietist institutions for the prisoners in Tobolsk. Swedish soldiers started to carry devotional booklets written by Francke and printed in Halle. When he passed away in 1727, the pietist movement had been born and continued to thrive.

The short overview above is based on The Rise of German Pietism in the 17th Century by James Paulgaard. It is available on Internet but was first published as a thesis in History 285.6, University of Saskatchewan, Canada, December 1,1998.

Halle was earlier in East Germany and during the Soviet occupation until 1989 – 1991 the foundations of Francke suffered great damage from neglect. They were restored in the 1990s and Halle now houses a study center, libraries and archives devoted to Pietism and the Early Enlightenment. The large orphanage is once more in perfect condition.

Swedish Explorers of Siberia 1700 – 1761

The Great Northern War (1700 – 1721) ended catastrophically for Sweden. After initial successes the main Swedish army was defeated in Ukraine. The Swedish prisoners in Tobolsk in Siberia in many cases contributed to the exploration of the region. Some returned to Sweden and others joined and remained in Russian service.

Commander Waxell (see below), for instance, joined the Russian Navy after the Great Northern War in 1725.

Halle pietism had a representative in Moscow, Pastor Ulrich Thomas Roloff. The Swedish Cavalry Captain Curt Friedrich von Wreech, who had been converted to pietism, founded a school in Tobolsk in the spirit of Francke (see above). This took place in 1713/14. The German preacher and founder of pietist institutions also sent Christoph Eberhard (1675-1750) as pastor to the prisoners in Tobolsk. Eberhard and Wreech published reports on the prisoners from 1718-1725.

Many of the reports of the Swedes on Siberia preceded those of the two Germanled Russian Siberian expeditions of Daniel Georg Messerschmidt (1685-1735) and Georg Wilhelm Steller (1709-1746). Von Stralenberg took part in the Messerschmidt expedition.

Commander Sven Larsson Waxell

Born in Stockholm 1701. Father: Lorenz Waxell, innkeeper. Mother: Christina Waxell, born Sandberg.

Waxell, born too late to participate in the Russian-Ukrainian campaign of King Charles XII, served first in the British navy but travelled to Russia in 1725, joined the Russian navy and rose to mate. Participated with among others German natural scientist Georg Wilhelm Steller under Dane Vitus Bering in the Russian Imperial Great Northern Expedition, that discovered Alaska. It was Waxell who saved the crew of one of Bering’s ships when stranded on Bering Island. After returning to St.Petersburg after the expedition was completed Waxell commanded several Russian naval ships between 1751 to 1761. Promoted to Commander he was stationed at the Kronstadt Naval Station. Waxell died on 14 February 1761. His son Lars (Lavrentiy) Waxell, who had also joined the expedition at the age of 12, was along with the two other sons, Vasiliy and Saveliy, knighted in Russia in 1778. Professor Lönnberg (see underneath) in 1907 corresponded with a Russian Imperial Chamberlain de Waxell, who claimed to be a descendant of Sven Larsson Waxell.

Source: Professor Einar Loennberg, “Sven Larsson Waxell. Ett 200-aarsminne” in Yearbook of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences 1941, pp. 259 – 299.

Lt. Colonel Philip Johan Stralenberg

Born in Stralsund, then Swedish Pomerania. Produced the first reliable map of Siberia. Returned to Sweden from Russia after 1721. Promoted to Lt.Colonel. In 1740 appointed Commander at Karlshamn, Province of Blekinge, Sweden. Died 1747 and is buried in Getinge, Province of Halland, Sweden.

In 1730 his geographical work on the northern and eastern parts of Europe and Asia was published. Later it was translated into English, French, Spanish and Russian. Stralenberg was with Daniel Gottlieb Messerschmidt (1685 – 1735) on his Siberian expedition with Karl Gustaf Schulman

Literature: Einar Bratt, “Karolinen Philip Johan von Stralenberg och hans sibiriska karta” in Meddelanden från Kungl. Armemuseum, 1966.

Cavalry Captain Petter Schönström

Schoenstroem lived for ten years in a city on the River Kama. He cooperated with Stralenberg collecting data for the Siberian map.

Literature: Carl Hallendorff, “Petter Schönströem och Stralenbergs karta” in Yearbook Ymer, 1925.

Lorents Lange

Lange was a Swede in German service. He accompanied the British surgeon Thomas Garvine on an expedition to China. Wrote a diary published in Das veränderte Russland by Friedrich Christian Weber. Lange made six journeys to China. He stayed in Siberia and was appointed Vice Governor in Irkutsk and wrote six diaries. One, covering the years 1720- 1722, was published in French and German in 1726. The Swedish author August Strindberg in 1878 in Historiskt bibliotek published a Lange biography. The origin of Lange is shrouded in mystery. Born in the 1690s his name has not been found in the Swedish army muster rolls.

Sergeant-Major of Artillery Johan Gustaf Renat 

Sergeant-Major Renat came to Tobolsk 1715 and joined a Russian expedition to Central Asia. He eturned to Sweden 1733 after spending a long time in Kalmykia. Renat did not write on his experiences but there is an exchange of letters between Bishop Benzelius and Renat (on Benzelius see elsewhere in these notes). Renat brought back to Sweden two Chinese maps of Eastern Central Asia captured by the Kalmyks (they are now in the Uppsala University Library).

Literature: Hans Krook, “Karolinen Johan Gustaf Renat och hans kartor” in Yearbook Ymer 1948. Renat´s military service record is in Biografica, National Military Archives, Stockholm.

Corporal Heinrich Busch

Tsar Peter decided during the Great Northern War that Swedish prisoners of war, who had navigational experience and knowledge, were to be sent to the Russian Far East. Busch started as a sailor in the Swedish navy but later joined the cavalry. Captured at Viborg (now Russian Vyborg) Busch joined an expedition under Kozak Kozun Sokolov which in May 1714 reached Yakutsk and in July1714 Ochotsk at the coast. A ship was built and the group sailed north in July 1716. It reached Ola and drifted to Kamchatka. After overwintering the expedition went to sea again in May 1717 and returned to Ochotsk in July that year.

Lieutenant Ambjörn Molin, North Scanian Cavalry, Swedish Army

Molin left Tobolsk in July 1716 and returned in December 1718. He took part in a Siberian expedition and was involved in shipbuilding on the Sea of Ochotsk. When returning to Sweden he wrote, on request of Archbishop Erik Benzelius, the younger, on Tartars in northeastern Asia.

Captain Johan Bernhard Müller, Karelian Dragoon Squadron, Swedish Army

Mueller joined a Greek-Orthodox missionary expedition led by the Metropolit of Siberia and Tobolsk, Filofey Lechtunskiy. It lasted for three months. Müller was in Russian service and ended his career as First Commissar.

Literature: Johan Bernhard Mueller, Das Leben und Gewohnheiten der Ostiaken (Berlin 1720).

Second Lieutenant Johan Christoffer Schnitzker, Gyllenstierna´s Dragoons, Swedish Army

Schnitzker joined Russian service and in 1712-1714 escorted a Chinese diplomatic mission through Russian territory to the Kalmykian Khan in Saratov on the Volga. Schnitzker rose in the ranks to Lt.Colonel but returned to Sweden after the peace in 1721.

Literature: Johan Christoffer Schnitzker, Beraettelse om Ajuchiniska Calmuckiet (Stockholm 1744).

Fortification Officer Johan Anton Matern

Matern cooperated with Stralenberg. He was allowed in 1715 to travel from Tobolsk to Tomsk and back.

Quartermaster Daniel Capell and artist Karl Gustaf Schulman

Capell and Schulman joined the Daniel Gottlieb Messerschmidt Russian Siberian expedition. Capell died on the way. In 1721 Stralenberg and Schulman found inscriptions of an unknown kind at a tributary to the river Yenitsey. Schulman copied the inscriptions. The secret of the Old Turkic inscriptions was in the 19th century solved by the Danish linguist Vilhelm Thomsen , who concluded that they were in a Turkic “runic” script. Unfortunately little is known about Schulman’s life and later career.

Stralenberg (or Messerschmidt) were the first to classify languages in Finno-Ugrian, Samoyedic, Tungusic and Turkic. They presumed these languages belonged to the “Tartar” language. In reality they belong to the Altai languages. The classification, however, preceded Judge William Jones classification of Indo-European languages in 1786.

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Bertil Häggman is an attorney and author born in 1940 in Helsingborg, Sweden. He received his Master in Law degree at the University of Lund, Sweden, in 1964. From 1969 he was a Senior Enforcement Service Officer and Enforcement Service Officer, Sweden, 1969 – 2001 serving first as Assistant Judge, Sweden, 1967 – 1969.

SOME GENERAL SOURCES

Pietism

Franck, Margit, 1988: Karolinernas skola i Tobolsk. I: Karolinska Förbundets Årsbok. 1987.

Furseth, Inger & Repstad, Pål, 2005: Religionssociologi. En introduktion. 2005.

Halldorf, Joel, Av denna världen? Emil Gustafson, moderniteten och den evangelikala väckelsen. 2012.

Hanson, Bradley, Modern Christian Spirituality: Methodological and Historical Essays. 1990.

Hellgren, Lars, Fromhetslivet bland karoliner i Ryssland och Sibirien. I: Julhälsningar till församlingarna i Göteborgs stift. 1997.

Hope, Nicholas, German and Scandinavian Protestantism 1700 to 1918. 1995.

Källström, Arvid, Bidrag till den svenska pietismens historia. 1894.

Matthias, Markus, August Hermann Francke (1663-1727). I: The Pietist Theologians. An Introduction to Theology in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries. 2005.

Nordbäck, Carola, Samvetets röst. Om mötet mellan luthersk ortodoxi och konservativ pietism i 1720-talets Sverige. 2004.

Odenvik, Nathan, August Hermann Francke – ett trosliv, verksamt genom kärlek. 1945.

Ward, William Reginald, The Protestant Evangelical Awakening. 1992.

Early Evangelicalism – A Global Intellectual History, 1670-1789. 2006.

Swedish Explorers of Siberia

Professor Alf Åberg, Fångars elände – Karolinerna i Ryssland 1700 – 1723, Stockholm 1991 (on Swedish prisoners of war in Russia during the Great Northern War).

Ambassador Gunnar Jarring, “Edvin Petrovich Zinner om de karolinska krigsfångarnas insatser för utforskandet av Sibirien”, Yearbook of Karolinska Förbundet (KFÅ) 1979 – 1980.

Yuri Semyonov, Sven Waxell och den skandinaviska insatsen i Sibirien (1953).

Yuri Semyonov, Die Eroberung Sibiriens (1955). Semyonov lived in Berlin during the Second World War and cooperated with the prominent Bavarianborn German geopolitician General von Niedermayer, who was a professor in the German capital. The Russian LL.D Semyonov later settled in Sweden and lectured at the University of Uppsala, Sweden, until retirement. For more on Semyonov see Theo Hartman’s article on the Carl Schmitt reception in Sweden (Schmittiana 1998).

Catalogue Pietas Hallensis Universalis – Weltweite Beziehungen der Frankeschen Stiftungen im 18. Jahrhundert. 1995.

Catalogue Die Grosse Nordische Expedition – Georg Wilhelm Steller (1709-1746) – Ein Lutheraner erforscht Sibirien und Alaska – Eine Ausstellung der Frankeschen Stiftungen zu Halle. 1996 (information on Waxell, Stralenberg, and Lange).
Bertil Häggman, “Pietism and Exploration of Siberia – Sweden’s Role 1709 to 1761”, International Conference “Daniel Gottlieb Messerschmidt (1685 – 1735) – Europa entdeckt Sibirien. Erforschung Sibiriens seit dem frühen 18. Jahrhundert und die Bedeutung für die europäische Wissenwelt”, Halle, November 12 – 16, 2014.

IRAN’S IMPERIAL PROJECT – A CHALLENGE TO THE WEST

December 2, 2017

Washington Times on November 20, 2017, published a commentary by Ilan Berman, a leading US foreign policy expert on what is actually the main political problem in the Middle East. Excerpts below:
Iran is on the march in the Middle East.

…accounts out of Iraq, Lebanon and beyond has pointed to an inescapable conclusion: Iran is erecting a new empire in the region.

Already three years ago, the contours of Iran’s regional ambitions were coming into focus. With the seizure of Yemen’s capital, Sana’a, by the country’s Iranian-supported Houthi rebels in the fall of 2014, the Islamic Republic of Iran could effectively claim control of four Arab regional capitals (including Beirut, Damascus and Baghdad).

Since then, Tehran’s grip on those territories has only tightened. In Syria, Iran’s strategic footprint has expanded steadily, to the point at which Tehran is now reportedly planning a permanent military presence in the country as part of its partnership with the regime of Bashar Assad.

In Lebanon, working via its chief terrorist proxy, Hezbollah, the Islamic republic has become…dominant in national politics…

Meanwhile in Iraq, Iran’s support for the hashd al-shaabi, the powerful Shiite militias that now dominate the country’s Ministry of Interior, has made it a key stakeholder in (and the most likely winner of) the country’s national elections next year.

And in Yemen, the expanding power of the Houthis, and the threat that they pose to neighboring Saudi Arabia as well as to American forces in the Gulf, has had everything to do with growing political and military support from Tehran.

…Iran’s imperial project is now accelerating in at least two ways.

First, mounting evidence from the Syrian theater indicates that Iran has succeeded in deploying a formidable expeditionary force of fighters there. Historically, Iran’s clerical army, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, has served as the regime’s dedicated foreign legion. But the Syrian civil war has provided Iranian officials with an opportunity to marshal a supplemental cadre of irregular fighters and “volunteers,” drawn from Iraq’s Shiite militias as well as places like Pakistan, Afghanistan and Yemen.

The result is a secondary Iranian proxy force that, according to some estimates, could number as many as 200,000 men under arms, and which can be deployed by Tehran to other theaters in the future, once the war in Syria dies down.
Second, Iran has succeeded in establishing resupply routes to funnel both personnel and materiel to the Levant….Iran’s growing control over Iraq via the Hashd al-Shaabi has created a land corridor that provides a direct transport link into Syria for Iranian forces and arms. This has been supplemented by an “air bridge” of flights spearheaded by Iran’s national air carrier, Iran Air, which has helped to ferry both guerrillas and Guardsmen to the Syrian front. The end result is a zone of Iranian control stretching from territorial Iran all the way to the Eastern Mediterranean.

What has made all this possible? A large portion of the blame rests with the 2015 nuclear deal concluded between Iran and the P5+1 powers. That agreement proffered enormous economic benefits to the Islamic Republic in hopes that, over time, it would lead to a moderation of the Iranian regime. Instead, the opposite has happened. The extensive sanctions relief built into the deal has provided Iran’s ailing economy a much-needed fiscal shot in the arm, and freed up funds that Iran has poured into its proxy forces and its military modernization efforts.

Today, policymakers in Washington remain preoccupied with degrading and defeating the Islamic State terrorist group in Iraq and Syria. As a result, they have paid scant attention to how other regional actors might be empowered by our counterterrorism fight.

Comment: Iran is a long-time challenger of the West. The Persian Sassanian empire has been the organizational model (third to seventh century AD) for the Islamic Iranian state. The statecraft offered a bureaucracy, an effective military system and diplomacy intelligence. Muslim rule is built on classical Persian documentation such as the tenth century Book of Kings and the epic Shahnama.

The Sassanian empire was centered on a Persian “power state”. The Book of Government (seyasat-nameh) by Nizam al-Mulk (d. 1092 AD) was prepared as aid to helping sustain fundamentalist Islam, but the origin of the work is completely Iranian.

Persia was also the home to the Assassins (ca 1000 to 1275 AD).

Iran is a megastate and empire on the world island. It is the home of endemic conspiracy thinking. The coastline in the south constitutes half of the Arabian Gulf. With Oman it controls the vital Strait of Hormuz.

Russia was for a long time a provider of arms to Iran. Moscow has also since the 1990s provided Iran with nuclear materials and technology for missile systems. Iran also has military cooperation with North Korea despite. Another threat to the West (including Israel) is that Iran is actively seeking Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD). Hezbollah and Hamas are terrorist partners of Iran.

MOST INFLUENTIAL EVANGELICALS IN AMERICA

November 19, 2017

Newsmax on November 17, 2017, published a list of the 100 Most Influential Evangelicals in America including pastors, teachers, politicians, athletes, and entertainers — men and women from all walks of life whose faith leads them to live differently and to help others in a variety of ways. Please find below the top ten names:

1. Billy Graham — Rev. Graham has slowed down in his active ministry — he will turn 100 next November — but he’s built a legacy as the greatest preacher of the gospel America has ever known. Graham has preached the gospel to nearly 215 million people in stadiums around the world and led more than 3.2 million people to Christ at his Crusades over the years. But his influence is felt beyond the call of invitation as well. Graham opposed racial segregation in the 1950s, integrated his services, and worked to dismantle the black and white divide in America’s church. He advised U.S. presidents on spiritual matters over the course of five decades.

2. Franklin Graham — A bit of a prodigal son in his youth, Franklin Graham eventually followed in his father Billy Graham’s footsteps while also forging his own influential ministry through Samaritan’s Purse, an organization that provides disaster and humanitarian relief and also offers the gospel to millions of people around the world.

3. Joel Osteen — Encouraging people to believe that God will bless them in big ways, Osteen’s messages are televised to more than 7 million viewers each week and 20 million each month in more than 100 countries. He pastors the largest church in America, Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas, with some 45,000 weekly attendees.

4. Mike Huckabee — The former pastor who served as governor of Arkansas from 1996 to 2007, Huckabee was a Republican primary presidential candidate in 2008 and 2016, winning the Iowa Republican caucuses in 2008. He had a talk show on the Fox News Channel from 2008 to 2015 and has also written best-selling books about the intersection of politics and religion. He now hosts “Huckabee” on the Trinity Broadcasting Network.

5. Pat Robertson — Perhaps best known as the host of the “The 700 Club,” Robertson is the chancellor and CEO of Regent University and the chairman of the Christian Broadcasting Network. He also founded the International Family Entertainment Inc. (ABC Family Channel, now Freeform), and the American Center for Law and Justice, among other organizations, and is an important voice for conservative Christianity in the United States.

6. Rick Warren — The founder and senior pastor of Saddleback Church, a megachurch in California, Warren became a household name with the release of his book “The Purpose Driven Life,” which sold more than 32 million copies and is widely billed as one of the best-selling nonfiction hardcover book in history.

7. Jerry Falwell Jr. — The president of Liberty University, one of the largest evangelical Christian colleges in the U.S., Falwell took over after his father’s and the school founder’s death in 2007. He has made controversial remarks about gun rights and endorsed Donald Trump for the Republican nomination, speaking at the 2016 Republican National Convention in his support. Falwell Jr. also invested $5 million of Liberty’s endowment in Israel in 2016.

8. Joyce Meyer — A charismatic Christian author, Meyer has written more than 100 books and hosts a popular TV show, “Enjoying Everyday Life,” that teaches people how to live the Christian life and overcome their problems with faith in Christ and common sense.

9. Mike Pence — The former Indiana governor was chosen by Trump to be his vice president in large part for his traditional Christian conservatism. He is notably creationist and pro-life, and attributes many of his political stances to his evangelism. As one commentator put it, “Pence doesn’t simply wear his faith on his sleeve — he wears the entire Jesus jersey.”

10. Mark Burnett and Roma Downey — A married couple, Burnett and Downey are television and movie producers who have produced faith-based content like “The Bible” miniseries and 2016’s “Ben-Hur,” run Lightworkers Media, the family and faith division of MGM studios, and launched Light TV in 2016, a faith-based television channel through MGM.

NEW VICTIMS OF COMMUNISM CAUCUS IN THE U.S. CONGRESS

November 17, 2017

The Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation in Washington D.C. on November 7, 2017 in a Media Advisory informed of a new caucus having been formed in Congress. Excerpts below:

Representatives Marcy Kaptur (D-OH), Dan Lipinski (D-IL), Dennis Ross (R-FL), and Chris Smith (R-NJ) have announced the formation of the Victims of Communism Caucus for the 115th Congress (2017-2019). The Victims of Communism Caucus is a bipartisan group of Members of Congress dedicated to raising awareness of how communism victimized and enslaved more than one hundred million people in the past and how its tyranny in the five existing communist countries (China, Cuba, Laos, North Korea, and Vietnam) and its legacy in the post-Soviet sphere shapes international relations today.

During the upcoming session, the Victims of Communism Caucus will focus on several issues, including Russian expansionism in Ukraine; the role of the United States in ameliorating the deteriorating political and economic situation in Venezuela; the continuing human rights abuses of the Castro regime in Cuba; and the increasing threat that the dangerous North Korean rhetoric surrounding the country’s nuclear program poses to the free world.

The Caucus will honor the memory of the 100 million victims of communism and raise awareness about the dissidents who continue to protest against current communist regimes.

Executive Director of the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation Marion Smith said, “There is no more fitting occasion than the 100th anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution to announce the Victims of Communism Caucus. It sends a powerful message on behalf of the more than 100 million people victimized by communism in the last century and one fifth of the world’s population who still live in a single party state that adheres to this failed ideology.”

NORTH KOREAN DEFECTOR IN CRITICAL CONDITION

November 15, 2017

Washington Times on November 14, 2017, reported that the defecting North Korean soldier who was shot defecting across the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) is in critical condition. He was shot at 40 times and suffered five gunshot wounds. A South Korean military official has reported that he is likely to survive although at present he cannot breathe on his own.

A troubling aspect of this shooting is that the freedom seeking soldier from North Korea was fired upon even after having crossed the border to the south.

More details are provided in an article published by Fox News on November 13, 2017. Excerpts below:

An elite North Korean soldier stationed at the heavily guarded Demilitarized Zone made a bold bolt for freedom… defecting to South Korea despite getting shot twice, the South’s military said.

North Korean soldiers shot at the unidentified North Korean soldier when he ran from the guard post at the northern side of the village, South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement.

He suffered gunshot wounds to his elbow and shoulder and was taken to the hospital when South Korean soldiers found him about 25 minutes later on the southern side of the Joint Security Area, a strip of land where North and South Korean forces stand face-to-face, the military said, according to the South’s Yonhap News Agency.

The South Korean military said he was unarmed and was wearing a combat uniform for a low ranking soldier.

About 30,000 North Koreans have defected to South Korea since the end of the Korean War, but most travel through China. An estimated 1,000 people flee Kim Jong Un’s volatile regime each year, but going through the DMZ — fortified with land mines, barbed wires and machine guns — have been extremely rare because of the dangerous conditions. This year, North Korean defectors successfully escaping the regime fell by 12.7 percent, according to the Telegraph.

The soldier’s successful escape makes only the fourth defection by a North Korean soldier through the DMZ in the last three years, the BBC reported. Yonhap News agency said Kim’s military officials reportedly “cherry-pick” loyal soldiers who are stationed at the DMZ.

At Panmunjom, once an obscure farming village inside the 2 1/2-mile-wide DMZ that separating the rivaling countries, North Korean soldiers wearing lapel pins with the images of late North Korean leaders often use binoculars to monitor visitors from the South.

[Panmunjon is] jointly controlled by the American-led U.N. Command and North Korea. The DMZ is guarded on both sides by hundreds of thousands of combat-ready troops, razor-wire fences and tank traps. More than a million mines are believed to be buried inside the zone.

The most famous incident was in 1976, when two American army officers were killed by ax-wielding North Korean soldiers. The attack prompted Washington to fly nuclear-capable B-52 bombers toward the DMZ…

In 1984, North Korean and U.N. Command soldiers traded gunfire after a Soviet citizen defected by sprinting to the South Korean sector of the truce village. The incident left three North Korean soldiers and one South Korean soldier dead.

Comment: Due to the failed efforts of several American Democratic administrations North Korea is dangerously close to being able to carry out a nuclear attack not only for instance against Japan but even the United States. North Korea is in 2017 very close to being able to initiate a nuclear war of catastrophic proportions with the United States.

During the 1930s in Europe democratic great powers failed to listen to the warnings of Winston Churchill that Hitler was preparing to go to war. In 1939 it was too late to stop a war. President Donald Trump has now made it clear to both North Korea and China that the U.S. is willing to take preemptive military action as a last resort to protect America’s interests. One can only hope that there is a peaceful way to achieve denuclearization of the Korean peninsula. A nuclear North Korea can certainly not be tolerated.

The Obama administration refused to confront the dangers of nuclear tyrannical regimes in North Korea and Iran. As a result of these policies there is a dangerous situation in East Asia that has consequences all over the world.

The West and especially the United States cannot accept being held hostage by a rogue nuclear marxist-leninist regime. It is unacceptable that China year after year can continue to support the regime in North Korea. China is increasingly aggressive in the South China Sea and observers have compared the rise of China in the beginning of the twentyfirst century with the rise of Hitler in the 1930s. Obama during the past eight years has acted much like the British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain in his attempts to appease Hitler.

In a small way the recent defection of the North Korean soldier could be a sign that the North Korean army is beginning to doubt the aggressive nuclear policies of the ”Great Leader”. This in turn could indicate that the sanctions are at last having some effects.

There is now more than ever a need for increased information operations by South Korea to show the Koreans in the north that they are not living in a socialist paradise but in a prison camp that is falling apart.

CENTENARY OF FINNISH INDEPENDENCE 1917 to 2017

November 14, 2017

Finland had been a colony of Russia since 1809, when the country declared independence on December 6, 1917. It was around one month after the Communist coup d’etat in Russia. With support of Russian soldiers garrisoned in Finland a red government was set up in opposition. The members of this government came from the Finnish Social Democratic Party (SDP). Its paramilitary units, the Red Guard, were defeated by centre-right volunteers of General Carl Gustaf Mannerheim in early 1918 which set off the civil war. Mannerheim was supported by German troops including the Royal Prussian 27th Ranger (Jaeger) Battalion consisting of Finns from the earlier Russian Grand Duchy of Finland. They had secretly trained in Germany and had been transported across Finland via Sweden to Germany. To the Russian authorities they reported that they went to Germany for Boy Scout Training.

The red government fled to Moscow, where it set up the Finnish Communist Party (SKP) in August 1918. Two members of the rival Finnish communist government, Otto Wille Kuusinen and Yrjo Sirola, became prominent members of Comintern (Communist International) and Kuusinen was elected to the Executive Committee of that international. One of Kuusinen’s early assignments was Western Europe including the Finnish and Swedish communist parties. Sirola was a leading Finnish communist subversive based in Moscow until his death in 1936.

The civil war in Finland raged from January 27 to May 15, 1918. Around 37,000 were killed. In January 1918 Lt. General C.G. Mannerheim ordered his troops of the legal government to disarm all Russian soldiers in East Bothnia region of Finland and secured that area in northeastern Finland. The city of Vasa in that region then served as capital of the rightful government during the civil war. The communist government for its part ordered the capture of the legal government and installed a communist government in Helsinki, the capital of Finland (called Finland’s Socialist Workers Republic).

The communist forces attacked northern Finland but were repulsed. German troops landed in February in support of the legal government. In March the communist government signed a treaty with Lenin’s Russian government that made the communist revolutionary Finns Russian citizens and vice versa. On March 15 Mannerheim started a large offensive against the communist forces to the south. In the beginning of April the large city of Tampere was liberated. Early in March German troops landed in southern Finland and marched against Helsinki in support of the Vasa government. During April Helsinki was liberated by German troops. The German battleship Westfalen entered the harbor of Helsinki and landed additional German troops.

Around 1,100 Swedish officers and soldiers served in the armed forces of the Vasa government under Mannerheim. During the first phase of the civil war most training officers came from Sweden or were Swedish speaking Finlanders. Finnish fighter pilots also trained in Sweden at the Enoch Thulin Flight School at Ljungbyhed in southern Sweden or privately trained with Swedish Baron Carl Cederstrom. Fighter planes were used in the Finnish civil war for reconnaissance, bombing and distribution of leaflets.

It should be noted that the communist attempt to take over Finland in 1918 was part of a plan to dominate all of Western Europe. Bolsheviks were victorious in the Russian civil war and similar civil wars were started in Germany, Hungary and other European countries. Communist regimes were established in Bavaria and Hungary. Late in 1918 the Soviets had concluded a secret “treaty” with the German communist leader Karl Liebknecht. A Russian army would take to the offensive to support a communist uprising in Berlin. A similar treaty was concluded with Hungarian communist leader Bela Kun. In 1919 Soviet representative Karl Radek developed a plan for revolutionary war against Germany. Russian prisoners of war still in Germany would be offensively used. The Soviet attack to the West was stopped by the Polish armed forces in the battle of Warsaw in 1920.

The Comintern (Communist International) was founded in 1919 and provided revolutionary training for communists from a large number of countries in the 1920s and the1930s. Comintern produced several training manuals dealing with strategy and tactics of uprisings and irregular warfare (for example ”The Road to Victory, a theoretical discussion of Marxism and Revolution” by Alfred Lange, ”The Armed Uprising” by A. Neuberg).

NOVEMBER 7, 2017, NATIONAL DAY FOR THE VICTIMS OF COMMUNISM IN THE UNITED STATES

November 11, 2017

The White House on November 7, 2017, released a proclamation marking November 7, 2017, as the National Day for the Victims of Communism. See below:

National Day for the Victims of Communism

Today, the National Day for the Victims of Communism, marks 100 years since the Bolshevik Revolution took place in Russia. The Bolshevik Revolution gave rise to the Soviet Union and its dark decades of oppressive communism, a political philosophy incompatible with liberty, prosperity, and the dignity of human life.

Over the past century, communist totalitarian regimes around the world have killed more than 100 million people and subjected countless more to exploitation, violence, and untold devastation. These movements, under the false pretense of liberation, systematically robbed innocent people of their God-given rights of free worship, freedom of association, and countless other rights we hold sacrosanct. Citizens yearning for freedom were subjugated by the state through the use of coercion, violence, and fear.

Today, we remember those who have died and all who continue to suffer under communism. In their memory and in honor of the indomitable spirit of those who have fought courageously to spread freedom and opportunity around the world, our Nation reaffirms its steadfast resolve to shine the light of liberty for all who yearn for a brighter, freer future.

VICTIMS OF COMMUNISM REMEMBERED IN WASHINGTON D.C. in NOVEMBER 2017

November 11, 2017

Washington Times on November 8, 2017, reported on a gathering on November 7 in Washington organized by Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation at the Library of Congress to remember victims of communism since 1917. Excerpts below:

Over the past 100 years, communism has blazed a trail of dead and broken bodies stretched around the globe in its relentless…march toward the ash heap of history.

From the frozen gulags of Siberia to the killing fields of Cambodia and the jungles of Nicaragua, communists have massacred more than 100 million people in service to an ideology that promised freedom and equality but delivered only tyranny and scarcity.

A group of scholars, diplomats and dissidents gathered on November 8 in Washington to reflect on the lessons about human nature, power and markets on the centennial of the Bolshevik Revolution.

Marion Smith, executive director of the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation, which hosted the centennial commemoration at the Library of Congress, said communism is at root the belief that human nature can be altered “through the coercive power of the state.”

“Therefore, they made mistakes about human nature of the type that our American founders did not,” Mr. Smith said. “Communists ignored basic truths about the concentration of power. They ignored the foundational importance of individual liberty in the economic and cultural fields.”

On November 9 the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation will host a dinner to honor Israeli statesman and former Soviet political prisoner Natan Sharansky.

While the American founders sought to create a government that would restrain the passions of the people and itself, the Bolsheviks saw the state as the central actor on the path toward utopia. Any hindrances on government would necessarily impede the liberation of the masses, said Alan Charles Kors, professor emeritus of history at the University of Pennsylvania.

Mr. Kors said. The White House commemorated the 100th anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution, proclaiming Nov. 7 the “National Day for the Victims of Communism.” [for the text of the White House proclamation see the seperate contribution on Varldsinbordeskriget].

“Today, we remember those who have died and all who continue to suffer under communism,” the White House said in a statement. “In their memory and in honor of the indomitable spirit of those who have fought courageously to spread freedom and opportunity around the world, our Nation reaffirms its steadfast resolve to shine the light of liberty for all who yearn for a brighter, freer future.”

Vladimir Kara-Murza, a Russian pro-democracy activist, said his country has not fully come to terms with its history.

There is no consensus among historians as to how many lives were lost to communism. One of the most often-cited figures comes from “The Black Book of Communism,” which was published in 1997 by several French intellectuals who were former Marxists.

Their tally puts the number at 94 million: 65 million in the People’s Republic of China, 20 million in the Soviet Union, 2 million in Cambodia, 2 million in North Korea, 1.7 million in Ethiopia, 1.5 million in Afghanistan, 1 million in the Eastern Bloc, 1 million in Vietnam, and hundreds of thousands in Latin America.

More recent estimates have pushed that figure north of the 100 million mark.

Mr. Kara-Murza said the commonly accepted number for the Soviet Union alone is now 30 million dead.

“If we include those who were executed, those who were killed in the famines and deportations and collectivizations, and those who were forced to emigrate from Russia, the most oft-cited figure is usually about 30 million people,” he said. “That is about one-fifth of the total population of the Soviet Union at the beginning of the 1920s. History knows few crimes of such magnitude.”

Despite communism’s bloody track record, the ideology and its cousin, socialism, still have significant support in the West, especially among young people.

Polish Secretary of State Anna Maria Anders said there has been a dearth of education about the horrors wrought by communism over the past 100 years.

“I am stunned by people who come to me in Poland to my office and really how clueless they are, absolutely clueless they are, about the Second World War, about what happened,” Ms. Anders said. “Young people — the idea of communism is wonderful. Socialism, everybody, no poor people, no rich people, everybody is the same. We know it doesn’t work. But I think it’s a lack generally worldwide to see what a mistake it is.”

PRESIDENT TRUMP IN VIETNAM: THE WHOLE WORLD IS LIFTED BY AMERICA’S RENEWAL

November 10, 2017

Associated Press on November 10, 2017, reported on President Donald Trump’s speech at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Danang, Vietnam. Excerpts below:

President Donald Trump says he won’t let the United States be “taken advantage of anymore” on trade and adds that he’ll always “put America first.”

“we can no longer tolerate these chronic trade abuses and we will not tolerate them.”

Trump [also concluded that] the U.S. will seek trade relationships that are rooted in the principles of fairness and reciprocity. He says the opposite has happened for “too long.”

While the United States lowered market barriers…other countries didn’t open their markets to us.

He adds: “Simply put we have not been treated fairly by the World Trade Organization.”

[Trump also said in Danang] that…a “new optimism” has swept across the United States since his election.

He [used] statistics about economic growth, low unemployment and stock market highs [to support this].