Call it destiny, chance, fate, or mere luck, but somehow in my youth, I ended up in Scandinavia. It was due to an impulsive marriage that lasted a little over five years and gave me an up-close and personal relationship with Swedish and Danish cultures. I lived in Stockholm for a few months, and the rest of my Scandinavian experience was in Malmö, Sweden.
At the turn of the millennium, a bridge linking Sweden and Denmark opened. The ease to commute from one country to the other has people living in Malmö, which is less expensive and working in Copenhagen.
It felt a bit more remote in my youth, but still an incredibly fun and casual day trip. In the 1980s, the advantage of living in Southern Sweden was that we had three TV channels: two Swedish and the Danish ones.
I knew then that I was fascinated by my grandfather’s death in nearby Denmark, right before WWII in 1939. I knew Government files in Europe remain sealed for 75 years, after events, and as intrigued as I was, the fun of youth and lack of discipline left research to a future one day.
I had a short-lived, as it ended in divorce, clearly not a good marriage. But I did make lifelong friendships and learned to appreciate good vodka and fish, especially salmon and herring prepared in a myriad of ways.
In my 30s, again mere chance, I ended up alone and a bit bored with little money to spare for a few days in London, I contacted and consequently visited the British Airways archives, then located near Heathrow airport. On a cold day in January of 1993, my quest for “the full Story” began. It took me to several trips back to the UK and to Scandinavia, a vastly different Scandinavia that the one I knew so well in the 1980s.
Some things never change; the good vodka, aquavit, and fish are fabulous, as I remembered. Through globalization, foreign countries seem more alike, brands, and stores we all recognize. I miss the experience of completely feeling like things were worlds apart.
My book The Bridge of Deaths was the culmination of my quest. In it, I give the past a voice through the present.