Who knew WWII neutral Sweden had so much going on?!

Pat DiGeorge did an extensive amount of research to pull together the true story of her parent’s experience in neutral Sweden during WWII in Liberty Lady: A True Story of Love and Espionage in WWII Sweden

Excerpt from 1st Lt. Herman Allen, bombardier of Liberty Lady, writing about mission 5 on 31 December 1943:

There are really no words to describe what one goes through each time he hits the air. It leaves its mark, its sear, and only God Himself knows the price eventually to be paid. All that matters is to have faith in Him, and in the end it will prove itself. I still remember what we once said, to the effect that as long as we do our best to the utmost of our ability that is the most that can be expected. Is is our own mind, our own conscience we have to live with, and there lies the story.

Her father began his involvement as a bombardier executing raids over Germany, later to be interned in neutral Sweden after an emergency landing. He went on to meet Hedy, his future wife, while they both worked at the OSS (later to evolve into the CIA).

Sweden during WWII was a fascinating hotbed of activity on all sides.

Because of its neutrality, wartime Sweden had quickly become a natural spot for clandestine activities. Many countries maintained legations there including the United States, Great Britain, France, Germany, Russia, Poland, Norway, Italy, China and Japan. In additional to these diplomatic centers, most countries set up covert intelligence operations, all trying to learn each other’s secrets.

Representatives from the belligerent nations traveled back and forth, stayed in the same hotels and ate side by side in the restaurants. Wartime Stockholm has been described as the “Casablanca of the North,” with a social scene right out of Rick’s Cafe in the legendary 1943 movie. Discreet conversations, off-the-cuff questions, eavesdropping – all had the same purpose, to gather useful information and pass it along.

In preparation for the Allied invasion on the beaches of France, did you know:

One false notion transmitted to the Germans was that the Allies would first send forces to Norway, and then the main attack would come later at Pas-de-Calais, the shortest route across the English Channel. This location was where most of the German high command thought the invasion would take place.

The OSS was disbanded effective October 1, 1945. William Donovan gave his staff a very complimentary sendoff:

We have come to the end of an unusual experiment. This experiment was to determine whether a group of Americans constituting a cross section of racial origins, of abilities, temperaments and talents could meet and risk an encounter with the long-established and well-trained enemy organizations… You can go with the assurance that you have made a beginning in showing the people of America that only by decisions of national policy based upon accurate information can we have the chance of a peace that will endure.

This was a page-turner for me. I love learning about history, and had no idea of the critical role Sweden played in their neutrality.

Evil lurks on every page

The Secret History by Donna Tartt is one of the few books I can’t stop thinking about, can’t wait to pick up again, think about calling out sick from work to stay home, on the couch, reading more.

The tone, character development and setting Tartt creates are all wrapped in a constant sense of danger, as if evil was lurking on every page. The whole thing teeters on this:  after a terrible accident occurs, one character makes a treacherous decision, pulling the rest of the group along with him.

Here is my favorite quote that sums up the story so beautifully:

At one time I had liked the idea, that the act, at least, had bound us together; we were not ordinary friends, but friends till-death-do-us-part. This thought had been my only comfort in the aftermath of Bunny’s death. Now it made me sick, knowing there was no way out. I was stuck with them, with all of them, for good.

Other notable quotes:

The more cultivated a person is, the more intelligent, the more repressed, then the more he needs some method of channeling the primitive impulses he’s worked so hard to subdue. Otherwise those powerful old forces will mass and strengthen until they are violent enough to break free, more violent for the delay, often strong enough to sweep the will away entirely.

I suppose there is a certain crucial interval in everyone’s life when character is fixed forever; for me, it was that first fall term I spent at Hampden. So many things remain with me from that time, even now: those preferences in clothes and books and even food—acquired then, and largely, I must admit, in adolescent emulation of the rest of the Greek class—have stayed with me through the years.

It is easy to see things in retrospect. But I was ignorant then of everything but my own happiness, and I don’t know what else to say except that life itself seemed very magical in those days: a web of symbol, coincidence, premonition, omen. Everything, somehow, fit together; some sly and benevolent Providence was revealing itself by degrees and I felt myself trembling on the brink of a fabulous discovery, as though any morning it was all going to come together—my future, my past, the whole of my life—and I was going to sit up in bed like a thunderbolt and say oh! oh! oh!

Sometimes, when there’s been an accident and reality is too sudden and strange to comprehend, the surreal will take over. Action slows to a dreamlike glide, frame by frame; the motion of a hand, a sentence spoken, fills an eternity. Little things—a cricket on a stem, the veined branches on a leaf—are magnified, brought from the background in achingly clear focus.

The idea of living there, of not having to go back ever again to asphalt and shopping malls and modular furniture; of living there with Charles and Camilla and Henry and Francis and maybe even Bunny; of no one marrying or going home or getting a job in a town a thousand miles away or doing any of the traitorous things friends do after college; of everything remaining exactly as it was, that instant—the idea was so truly heavenly that I’m not sure I thought, even then, it could ever really happen, but I like to believe I did.

Monstrous as it was, the corpse itself seemed little more than a prop, something brought out in the dark by stagehands and laid at Henry’s feet, to be discovered when the lights came up; the picture of it, staring and dumb in all its gore, never failed to provoke an anxious little frisson but still it seemed relatively harmless compared to the very real and persistent menace which I now saw that Bunny presented.

If he had his wits about him Bunny surely would keep his mouth shut; but now, with his subconscious mind knocked loose from its perch and flapping in the hollow corridors of his skull as erratically as a bat, there was no way to be sure of anything he might do.

To compound this—all these unpleasant recollections to the contrary—so much remained of the old Bunny, the one I knew and loved. Sometimes when I saw him at a distance—fists in pockets, whistling, bobbing along with his springy old walk—I would have a strong pang of affection mixed with regret. I forgave him, a hundred times over, and never on the basis of anything more than this: a look, a gesture, a certain tilt of his head.

Any action, in the fullness of time, sinks to nothingness.

Hampden College, as a body, was always strangely prone to hysteria. Whether from isolation, malice, or simple boredom, people there were far more credulous and excitable than educated people are generally believed to be, and this hermetic, overheated atmosphere made it a thriving black petrie dish of melodrama and distortion.

Whatever else one may say about guilt, it certainly lends one diabolical powers of invention; and I spent two or three of the worst nights I had, then or ever, lying awake drunk with a horrible taste of tequila in my mouth and worrying about clothing filaments, fingerprints, strands of hair.

“There is nothing wrong with the love of Beauty. But Beauty—unless she is wed to something more meaningful—is always superficial. It is not that your Julian chooses solely to concentrate on certain, exalted things; it is that he chooses to ignore others equally as important.”

Depressed? Take Action!

I just finished reading “How to deal with depression: Start taking action ! (Depression, Stress, Mood Disorders, Negativity, Fight them all and become Happier)” by Peter Constantin.  It is an insight guide for both those that are depressed and their loved ones.

One idea that was new to me was ‘brainswitching.’  It’s so simple, and makes sense that it would be effective.

The best way to think аnоthеr thоught inѕtеаd оf a dерrеѕѕivе thоught iѕ tо uѕе the ѕimрlе соgnitivе behavioral technique саllеd ‘brainswitching.’ Chооѕе any nеutrаl or nоnѕеnѕе thought, in advance, tо have ‘аt thе ready’ to ѕubѕtitutе for any dерrеѕѕivе thоught that pops up. When you’re depressed, уоu’rе in tоо muсh раin tо think one uр.   Make it a thought thаt will nоt stimulate any negative emotional аѕѕосiаtiоn. It соuld bе A silly ѕоng оr rhyme frаgmеnt likе ‘Rоw, row, rоw уоur bоаt’ A mantra like ‘Om Padme’ A nеutrаl оr nоnѕеnѕе wоrd likе ‘hippity-hop, ‘green frоg,’ or ‘yadda уаddа’

It mау seem ѕillу to suggest that ѕауing ‘grееn frоg’ over and оvеr tо yourself саn gеt rid оf depression, but thеrе’ѕ a scientific rеаѕоn fоr thе exercise. Thinking a nеutrаl or nоnѕеnѕе thоught interrupts the depressive thоught pattern аnd wеаkеnѕ it.


I also liked the part on self-soothing tools, and building your toolbox for a rainy day:


By planning аhеаd, уоu’rе tаking соntrоl оf how you will nоw handle the less thаn ideal timеѕ in уоur life. Think if it akin tо hurriсаnе оr еаrthԛuаkе preparedness; уоu gеt some wаtеr, fооd, аnd bаttеriеѕ tо hаvе on hаnd. Fоr уоur еmоtiоnаl wоrld to bе ѕuссеѕѕful, you’re gаthеring thе emotional equivalents оf thеѕе fоr times of diѕtrеѕѕ.