For our company Rundfunk Media AB, Sara Lundin and I have produced a three-part radio series called Det eviga kriget, The Eternal War. It looks at Sweden’s obsession with military history, in particular the Second World War. Why is the war, 70 years later, mentioned daily in the Swedish press when the country did not strictly speaking even participate? Why are especially men so enticed by military history? And why has WWII become a sort of mythos, employed by many in ways quite similar to those of others who engage in Star Wars or Middle Earth?
In the first programme, Sara visits re-enactors and I talk to Eva Kingsepp, one of the editors of the scholarly anthology Hitler für alle, cultural studies on the use of WWII in popular culture.
In the second programme, Sara goes to Boden in northern Sweden to meet the phone salesmen of Svenskt Militärhistoriskt Bibliotek, and I call Magnus Perlstam at Mittuniversitetet to ask, among other things, what kind of people sign up for his online courses on 20th century warfare.
In the third programme, which airs today at 14.03 and tomorrow at 18.15, I visit Peter Englund at the Swedish Academy. A as a historian and bestselling author of military history, designer of strategy games, professor of narratology and sometime war correspondent, he has all kinds of relevant experience to draw upon. But we also talk about a clock donated to him, indirectly, by 18th C monarch Gustavus III – the one which rings when it’s time for him to announce the Nobel Prize in literature – and about growing up in a military town in northern Sweden, waiting for the war which never arrived.