Gunther Rall: the third most successful fighter ace in history

January 21, 2018

Gunther Rall, a German Lieutenant-General (Generalleutnant), was the third most successful fighter ace in history. During World War II, Lt. Gen. Rall flew 621 combat missions and shot down 275 enemy aircraft.  He was shot down eight times and was wounded three times.

Lt. Gen. Rall participated in aerial battles over France, Great Britain, Crete, the Eastern Front and the final defense of Germany.  The majority of Lt. Gen. Rall’s 275 victories were achieved against Russian aircraft on the Eastern Front.  Lt. Gen. Rall primarily flew the Messerschmitt 109.  During the closing months of the war he also flew the FW-190 and the ME-262 jet fighter.  (He did not fly the ME-262 in combat.)

In August 1941, Lt. Gen. Rall was promoted to Oberleutnant — the highest lieutenant officer rank in the Germany armed forces.  In April 1943 he was promoted to Hauptmann — considered a captain when used as a German officer’s rank.  He became a pilot in the West German Air Force in 1956.  From 1971-1974 he served as Inspector of the West German Air Force.

Lt. Gen. Rall initially joined the German infantry in July 1936 but in 1938 he decided to become an air force officer.  “I went to the air force and started flying in 1938 in Neubiberg, which is a suburb of Munich,” Lt. Gen. Rall said in an interview. “In 1939 I finally graduated training as a fighter pilot on a base east of Berlin and was transferred to Jagdgeschwader (fighter wing) JG-52 [of the Luftwaffe].”

Source: Aviation History: Interview with World War II Luftwaffe Ace Gunther Rall — History Net (hereafter History Net interview):  The article was written by Colin Heaton and originally appeared in the Sept. 1996 issue of World War II magazine.

His first combat was during the Battle of France.

“At the beginning of the war I was with this wing [JG-52], and my first contact with the enemy was in May 1940.  This was over France,” he said in an interview.

Source: History Net Interview.

During May 1940, he shot down his first enemy aircraft: a French Curtiss P-36 Hawk fighter.  With the fall of France, Lt. Gen. Rall’s unit moved to Calais.

Lt. Rall’s shot down three enemy aircraft during Operation Barbarossa on the Eastern Front during June 1941.  By Nov. 28, 1941, Lt. Gen. Rall scored his 37th victory. But on that same day his aircraft was shot down.

“A Russian came in behind me.  He shot my engine dead and it was over Russian territory, so I certainly moved and turned trying to reach the German lines — not a solid line, but I saw some German tanks. I was flying westward, and I tried to make a belly landing, but I saw where I was going to touch down, in what they call a baikal. . . . I bellied in and crashed on the other side.  That was the last I knew, as I saw this wall coming against me, and in the big bang I was knocked out.”

Source: History Net Interview.

He was rescued by a German tank crew and then hospitalized with three fractures in his spine.  During his treatment at a hospital in Vienna he met Dr. Hertha Schon, whom he later married in 1943.

Lt. Gen. Rall returned to battle in August 1942.  From August to November 1943, Lt. Gen. Rall shot down 38 enemy aircraft — bringing his total to 101.  On Sept. 3, 1942, Lt. Gen. Rall was awarded the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross.  On Oct. 22, 1942, Lt. Gen. Rall shot down his 100th enemy aircraft.  On Nov. 26, 1942, he was awarded the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves.  The award was personally made by Adolf Hitler.

On Aug. 29, 1943, Lt. Gen. Rall scored his 200th victory during his 555th mission.  On Sept. 12, 1943, the Fuhrer awarded him the Swords to his Knight’s Cross.  During 1943, Lt. Gen. Rall shot down more than 40 Soviet aircraft.

On May 12, 1944, Lt. Gen. Rall was shot down by a pair of P-47 Thunderbolt operated by the 56th Operation Group of the United States Air Force.  His left thumb was shot off.  He suffered a severe infection and was hospitalized until November 1944.

“I was wounded three times, but I was shot down about eight times. I bellied in between the front lines, I jumped out and was picked up by Germans in tanks and so on. I was always lucky, except I was seriously wounded three times.  The first time it was my back.  I was then shot and hit right in the face and in my hand, and the third time I jumped out and a P-47 Thunderbolt shot my left thumb off.”

Source: History Net Interview.

Lt. Gen. Rall commanded JG 300 operating out of Salzburg from February 1945 until the end of the war, when he was taken prisoner by the Americans.  (He flew his 621st and final mission during the end of April 1945.)

“The Americans took me back to Salzburg and put me in prison, Lt. Gen. Rall said. “From Salzburg to Neu Ulm, then to Heilbronn, and there the CIC [Counter Intelligence Corps] saw me. They knew my name and said all air force officers should report, and they took me very quickly to interrogation.  Then seven of us were taken to England.”

Source: History Net Interview.

After being freed Lt. Gen. Rall went to work in the civilian world.  When the Luftwaffe was re-formed in 1956, he joined and was involved in the F-104 program.  Lt. Gen. Rall was later a German military liaison to NATO.

“The Third Reich trained 30,000 pilots.  Ten thousand survived the war.  One-third.  This is the highest loss rate along with the U-boat sailors,” Lt. Gen. Rall said in an interview.

Source: Generalleutnant Gunther Rall (Telegraph — Oct. 11, 2009).

“The highest attrition rate for all combat units in the war or traits were submarines,” Lt. Gen. Rall said during a speech in Finland.  “And right next to the submarines were the fighter pilots. In every mission from mid 44 onwards, we knew that every second pilot wouldn’t come back.”

Source: Lecture by Lt. Gen. Rall arranged by the Aviation Museum Society, Finland (June 2003). Transcription at

Lt. Gen. Rall, the son of a merchant, was born on March 10, 1981 at Gaggenau, a small town in the Black Forest of Germany.  His family moved to Stuttgart when he was three-years-old.  He was brought up and educated in Stuttgart.  He died at age 91 on Oct. 4, 2009 at Bad Reichenhall in Upper Bavaria, Germany.

In 2004, Lt. Gen. Rall wrote an autobiography titled Mein Flubuch (My Logbook). The book was published in English as My Logbook: Reminiscences 1938-2006 (2006). (A new book sells from $1,499 and used books sell from $382 on Amazon.)  Another book on the career of Lt. Gen. Rall, written by Jill Armadio, is titled Gunther Rall: A Memoir, Luftwaffe Ace & NATO General (May 2002).



Major Walter “Nowi” Nowotny: Super ace during World War II

December 24, 2017


NOWOTNY’S FW 190A4 OF JG54 — By Ron Cole

Major Walter “Nowi” Nowotny was a “super ace” in aerial combat during World War II.

Nowotny was born on December 7, 1920 in Gmund in Lower Austria.  On November 8, 1944 — less than one month short of his 24th birthday — Nowotny was killed in combat with United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) fighters.

During Nowotny’s military career, Nowotny was credited with 442 flying missions and 258 victories in aerial combat.  Nowotny also had 50 unconfirmed victories. He flew the Focke-Wulf Fw 190, the Messerschmitt Bf 109 and the world’s first jet fighter, the Messerschmitt Me 262.  Nowotny recorded 255 of his victories over the Eastern Front and three victories over the Western Front.  All three of Nowotny’s victories over the Western Front were while flying the Me 262 jet fighter.  Two of those victories involved shooting down four-engine bombers.

Nowotny was 19-years-old when the British and French declared war on Germany on September 3, 1939.  Nowotny volunteered to serve his country and opted for service in the Luftwaffe, which he joined on October 1, 1939.  By the time he reached 20 years of age he had been flying for two months.  On Feb. 23, 1941, he was assigned as a fighter pilot to Jagdgeschwaer on the Eastern Front with the Grunherz JG54 Group.  Within weeks he downed his first Russian J 18.

On July 19, 1941 — Nowotny’s 24th mission — he recorded his first victories when he shot down two Russian Polikarpov I-153 biplane fighters.  On the same day, Nowotny’s Messerschmitt Bf 109 was shot down by a Russian I-153 flown by Russian ace Alexandr Avdeev (13 victories, killed in action on Aug. 12, 1942). Nowotny’s fighter ended up in the Bay of Riga, where he clung to life in a small rubber dinghy for three days and three nights.  He eventually drifted ashore on the Latvian coast. While drifting in the dinghy, Notowny was almost run over by a Soviet destroyer.

Nowotny recorded his 55th and 56th victories on August 7, 1942.  After his 56th aerial victory, he was awarded the Knight’s Cross,  On September 6, 1943,  Nowotny recorded his 191st and 192nd victories.  After these victories he was awarded the rare and coveted Oak Leaves Award.  Nowotny reached the century mark of victories on June 5, 1943, on his 344th combat mission.

During June 1943, Nowotny shot down 41 aircraft including 10 Russian fighters on June 24, 1943.  During August 1943, Nowotney shot down 49 aircraft — a number reached by Jagdgeschwader 52’s (JG 52) Erich Hartmann — bring Notwotny’s total to 161 victories. During October 1943, Nowotny shot down 32 aircraft. Nowotny was renowned even among Allied pilots.

On October 14, Nowotny downed his 250th enemy plane: a P-40. Nowotny was the first pilot in history to record 250 victories. For this accomplishment, Nowotny was awarded the Knight’s Cross with Oak Leaves, Swords and Diamonds.

By early 1944 Messerschmitt developed a twin-engine jet propelled fighter, the Me 262.  Nowotny was ordered to Berlin and was chosen to create Germany’s first jet fighter squadron.  By autumn 1944 the squadron downed 4 MOTS, Mosquitoes and Mustangs.

Nowotny was at his post on November 8, 1944, when it was learned that two of his fighter pilots had been shot down.  Nowotny immediately took to the air in his own Me 262.  He had downed a B-24 Liberator and a P-51 Mustang fighter before he heard on the radio that there were flames erupting from his aircraft.  As Nowotny’s jet spiraled toward the ground, he opened the canopy and bailed out.  The parachute lines tangled with the aircraft’s rudder and Nowotny was killed.  The place of Nowotny’s death was near Hespe, Lower Saxony (Niedersachsen), Germany.

Helmut Lennartz, a Luftwaffe fighter ace, recalled:

“I remember Notwotny’s crash very well.  Feldwebel Gossler, a radio operator with our unit, had set up a radio on the airfield. Over this set I and many others listened to the radio communications with Nowotny’s aircraft. His last words were,’I’m on fire’ or ‘it’s on fire.’ The words were slightly garbled.”

After Nowotny’s death, Jagdgeschwader 7, the first operational jet fighter wing in history, was renamed Nowotny in Walter’s honor.

Nowotny was given a state funeral in Vienna. The guard of honor was composed of his friend Karl Schnorrer, Oberst Gordon Gollob, Major Rudolf Schoenert, Hauptmann Heinz Sturning, Major Josef Fozo and Major Georg Christl. The eulogy was delivered by General der Jagdflieger Adolf Galland and Generaloberst Otto DeBloch. Nowotny’s ashes were buried at Vienna Central Cemetery in Vienna, Austria (Group of Honor Graves at Zentralfriedhof).  Others buried at the cemetery include Ludwig van Beethoven, Franz Schubert, Johann Strauss and Johannes Brahms.

Nowotny had two brothers, Rudolf and Hubert, who both became officers in the Wehrmacht. Hubert was killed in action in the Battle of Stalingrad.

A list of Nowotny’s 258 victories is set forth at

The definite biography on Major Nowotny is by Werner Held.  It is titled German Fighter Ace Walter Nowotny: An Illustrated Biography (Schiffer Publishing 2006).  It is a translation of Der Jagdflieger Walter Nowotny (1984).  The book includes material from the Nowotny family.  Mr. Held is also the author of Battle Over the Third Reich: The Air War Over Germany: 1943-1945 (Air Research Publications 1990 — reprinted Zenith Aviation Books / Air Research Publications 1993); The German Fighter Units Over Russia: A Pictorial History of the Pilots and Aircraft (Schiffer Publishing 1990) and Fighter!: Luftwaffe Fighter Planes and Pilots (Prentice Hall 1979).

Other books discussing Luftwaffe fighter pilots include: Robert Forsyth and Jim Laurier, Jagdgeschwader 1 “Oesau” Aces 1939-45: Aircraft of the Aces (Osprey Publishing 2017); Gunther Fraschka, Knights of the Reich: The Twenty-Seven Most Highly Decorated Soliders of the Wehrmacht in World War II (Schiffer Publishing 2004), and Mike Spick, Luftwaffe Fighter Aces: the Jagdflieger and Their Combat Tactics and Techniques (Greenhill Books 1996 — reprinted Frontline Books 2011).

Inspiration for this article came from a book chapter titled Walter Nowotny: Air Ace Among Air Aces, in Mike Walsh, Heroes of the Reich (2017).  Mr. Walsh is also the author many other books including Heroes Hang When Traitors Triumph: Were Sinners Really Saints (2015).


Saint Lucia Day in Sweden

December 9, 2017

Saint Lucia Day processions take place annually on December 13 in Sweden.  Saint Lucia Day (also known as Saint Lucy’s Day, the Feast Day of Saint Lucy of Syracuse and Little Yule) includes a Swedish custom with girls and boys wearing white, full-length gowns and singing songs together. The singing procession of boys and girls is led by a girl chosen to be Lucia (also known as the Lucia Bride).

There is a competition for the role of Lucia/  Although Sweden has always sought to avoid ranking people, the Lucia celebration has been an exception.

Lucia wears a wreath with five burning candles affixed to it.  (For safety purposes, battery-powered light bulbs have largely replaced real candles.)  The wreath is made of Lingonberry branches. Tradition has it that Lucia is to wear “light in her hair.”  Along with Lucia there are Handmaidens and Star Boys (Stjarngossars).  The Handmaidens wear brilliant red sashes and carry a single candle (or light bulb) or also wear a wreath of candles (or light bulbs) on their heads.  The red sashes are to remind of Saint Lucia’s martyrdom. The Star Boys carry stars on sticks and have tall paper cones on their heads.

The many Lucia songs all have the same theme: the days have become short and dark; the darkness is lighted up Lucia bearing lighted candles.  The most famous lyrics versions in Swedish are Luciasangen (“Saint Lucy, bright illusion”), Natten gar tunga fjat (“Night walks with heavy step”) and Ute ar morkt och kallt (“Outside is dark and cold.”).  Here is one versions of Santa Lucia:


Night walks with heavy step, round yard and hearth, as the sun departs from earth, shadows are brooding. There in our dark house, walking with lit candles, Santa Lucia, Santa Lucia!

Night walks grand, yet silent, now hear its gentle wings, in every room so hushed, whispering like wings.  Look, at our threshold stands, white-clad with light her hair, Santa Lucia, Santa Lucia!

Darkness shall take flight soon, from earth’s valleys.  So she speaks, wonderful words to us, a new day will rise again, from the rosy sky, Santa Lucia, Santa Lucia!

The Lucia celebrations also include ginger snaps and sweet, saffron-flavored buns (lussekatter), which are shaped like curled-up cats with raisin eyes.  The buns are often eaten with glogg or coffee.

Saint Lucia Day marks the beginning of the Christmas season.  It is meant to bring hope and light during the darkest time of the year.  Families observed Saint Lucia Day in their homes by having one of the daughters (traditionally the eldest) dress in a white robe and serve coffee and baked goods such as lussekatter and ginger biscuits.  Saint Lucia saffron buns take about 2-1/2 hours to prepare and 12 minutes to bake at 400 degrees F (205 degrees C).

The first appearance of a white-clad Lucia in Sweden was in a country house in 1764. The custom did not become universally popular in Swedish society until the 1900s, when schools and local associations began promoting it.  Stockholm proclaimed its first Lucia in 1927.

In agrarian Sweden, young people used to dress up as Lucia figures (lussegubbar) that night and wander from house to house singing songs.  The old lussegubbar custom virtually disappeared with urban migration.  White-clad Lucias with their singing processions were considered a more acceptable, controlled form of celebration than the youthful carousals of the past.

Under the Julian calendar, December 13 was the Winter Solstice.  Thus, the saying: “Lucy light, the shortest day and the longest night.”  Lucy means “light.”

Saint Lucia Day is in honor of Saint Lucia, a young girl from Syracuse, Sicilly, who was one of the earliest Christian martyrs.  She was killed by the Romans in 304 CE because of her religious beliefs.

Saint Lucia Day is also celebrated in Norway and the Swedish-speaking areas of Finland.  In Finland, Luciadagen is observed a week before the Winter Solstice.


Alfredsson and Sedin named by The Hockey News on the all-time best list

October 28, 2017

Two Swedish hockey players have been named on an “all-time best by franchise” list by The Hockey News.

The prestigious publication named the “Top 50 Players of All-Time by Franchise” in the National Hockey League (NHL).  Daniel Alfredsson of the Ottawa Senators and Daniel Sedin of the Vancouver Canucks were listed as the No. 1 all-time player for their respective teams.

Daniel Alfredsson — Alfredsson played right wing for the Senators from 1995-2013.  The Hockey News said about Alfredsson:

“A huge reason why Ottawa became relevant and stayed that way ever since was the arrival of Alfredsson. He cracked the roster at 23 in 1995-96 as a sixth-round draft pick from the 1994 draft, sniped 26 goals and won the Calder Trophy. The following year, he led the Sens on their first playoff foray, which sparked years of dominance in the standings and deep playoff pushes.”

The article added:

“He laps the Ottawa field in every major offensive category, because he was so good for so long. He scored at least 20 goals in a Sens uniform 13 times. He had 70 or more points 10 times. He’s the most beloved Senator because he was a stalwart for them across three different decades.”

Alfredsson was born Dec. 11, 1972 at Gothenburg.  He is considered a Swedish-Canadian hockey player because he and his wife, Birgitta, reside in Ottawa and Saro, Sweden.  They are the parents of four sons: Hugo, Loui, Fenix and William Erik.  Alfredsson became a Canadian citizen in 2016.

Alfredsson was a member of Sweden’s 2006 hockey team, which won the gold medal, and Sweden’s 2014 hockey team, which won the silver medal.

Daniel Sedin — Sedin has played left wing for the Canucks since 2000.  He has a twin brother, Henrik Sedin, who also plays for the Canucks. The Hockey News said about Daniel and Henrik Sedin:

“Identical twins Daniel and Henrik Sedin have just 23 games and 34 points separating them after 16 illustrious seasons. . . . Daniel has always been the shooter in the tandem, so he gets the edge for No. 1 in these rankings. Daniel’s 370 goals beat Henrik’s 237 by a landslide. . . . Daniel and Henrik powered some mighty Canucks teams — including the 2010-11 group that lost in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup final — because they worked so well as a two-man force.”

Henrik Sedin was named the No. 2 all-time player for the Canucks.

Daniel Hans Sedin was born on Sept 26, 1980 at Ornskoldsvik.  He and his wife, Marinette, were married in 2005.  They have two daughters (Ronja and Anna) and a son (Erik).

Sedin played with Alfredsson on Sweden’s 2006 gold medal Olympic team and Sweden’s 2014 silver medal Olympic team.

People react to the disgraceful comments made by a comedian on a weekly television show

October 1, 2017

Puerto Rico was devastated by Hurricane Maria on Sept. 20, 2017.  The Category 4 hurricane blasted Puerto Rico with winds up to 150 mph.  Maria made direct landfall and drenched the island of 3.4 million people with feet of rain.

Ricardo Rossello, the Governor of Puerto Rico, has praised the relief work by the United States.

“The president and the administration, every time we’ve asked them to execute, they’ve executed quickly,” Governor Rossello told Fox Business host Maria Bartiromo in an interview on Sept. 29.  He said that Puerto Rico was in an “emergency mode” and called on members of Congress to act quickly with a long-term rebuilding package.  He also said: “We need to treat Puerto Rico equally to Texas or Florida or any other state.”

Governor Rossello also said on Sept. 29:

“I have to say that the administration has responded to our petitions. FEMA, Brock Long, has been on the phone virtually all the time with me, checking on how things are going. . . . The different components of the national guard, military, FEMA and our government are working together on the priorities.”

President Trump tweeted on Sept. 29: “The fact is that Puerto has been destroyed by two hurricanes.  Big decisions will have to be made as to the cost of its rebuilding!”

On Sept. Sept. 28, President Trump’s administration temporarily waived a law known as the Jones Act, which made it more expensive to import goods from the United States to Puerto Rico.   The Jones Act required all good ferried between United States ports to be carried on ships built, owned and operated by Americans.

Governor Rossello’s comments contradicted a comments by Carmen Yulin Cruz Soto, the Mayor of San  Juan, Puerto Rico.  Cruz demanded more from the federal government.  She criticized the work of federal government relief workers.  During a press conference on Sept. 29, Cruz accused President Trump and his administration of “killing us with inefficiency.”  Cruz said:

“We are dying here.  And I cannot fathom the thought that the greatest nation in the world cannot figure out logistics for a small island of 100 miles by 35 miles long. . . . People are drinking off a creek.  So I am done being politically polite. I am done being politically correct. . . . So I am asking the members of the press, to send a mayday call all over the world. We are dying here. . . . And if it doesn’t stop, and if we don’t get the food and the water into people’s hands, what we are going to see is something close to genocide.”

Cruz made her anti-Trump statements while standing in front of huge pallets of United States aid.

President Trump tweeted: “Because of Fake News my people are not getting the credit they deserve for doing a great job [in Puerto Rico].  As seen here, they are ALL doing a GREAT JOB!”  President Trump posted a 9:44 video showing the extraordinary work that is being done by relief workers in Puerto Rico.

President Trump tweeted on Sept. 30: “Such poor leadership by the Mayor of San Juan, and others in Puerto Rico, who are not able to get their workers to help.”

President Trump also tweeted on Sept. 30: “The Governor of Puerto Rico, Ricardo Rossello, is a great guy and leader who is really working hard.  Thank you, Ricky!”

President Trump had praise for Rep. Jennifer Gonzalez-Colon.  He tweeted on Sept. 30: “Congresswoman Jennifer Gonzalez-Colon or Puerto Rico has been wonderful to deal with and a great representative of the people.  Thank you!”

On Sept. 30, during a segment called the “Weekend Update” on Saturday Night Live (SNL), co-anchor Michael Che called President Trump a “bitch” and a “cheap cracker” in connection with President Trump’s response to storm-ravaged Puerto Rico.

Che read one of President Trump’s tweets saying that the Mayor of San Juan was “told by the Democrats that you must be nasty to Trump.”   Che then said:

“Oh, really, Donald, you bitch?  Was she nasty to you? . . . This isn’t complicated, man. It’s hurricane relief. These people need your help. You just did this for white people, twice. Do the same thing.  Go tell Melania to put on her flood heels, get some bottled water, some food, pack up some extra Atlanta Falcons Super Bowl T-shirts and write them a check with our money, you cheap cracker.”

Members of the SNL audience applauded Che’s comments.

Yashar Ali, a contributor to New York Magazine and the Huffington Post said: “If you told me 5 years ago that SNL would be calling the President of the United States a ‘bitch’ and a ‘cracker’ I wouldn’t have believed you.”

Other reactions to Che’s disgraceful comments were posted on-line:

“The stupid mayor of San Juan had her picture taken in front of pallets of aid when she complained about Trump not helping.”

“Don’t tell me, let me guess: from the slave driver ‘cracking’ his whip?”

“Che reveals himself to be either an ignorant clown or a propaganda prop.”

“What if someone would have referred to Zero using the N word when he was president?”

“Cracker is a Racial Slur.  NBC should terminate this black bigot.”

“This is the first time most of these libtards have ever given a thought to Puerto Rico about anything.”

“Are leftists REALLY trying to pretend that there were no minorities in Texas and Florida when the hurricane hit? . . . The left is so obsessed with dividing us by race, they make a statement like that you literally have to have brain damage to think is clever or truthful.”

“‘Cracker’ comes from whip CRACKER. A ‘cracker’ is what a slave calls his master’s slave handler.”

“Bannon is dead on about these ‘celebrity’ idiots. They live in a bubble with zero sense of reality.”

“FIRE this POS.  Double standard.”

“He is clearly Racist, that offends me and belongs nowhere on TV.”

“SNL used to be a regular show for me until obamo, and all the humor stopped. Now it’s pathetic nonstop slamming of anything conservative and nonstop butt licking of anything leftist. And their collective tongues are way in there. As they say in LA, sooo not funny.”

“This is why I continue not watching. And it hasn’t been funny in 20 years.”







Court spectators lined up to watch the trial of an Afghani asylum seeker charged with the murder of Maria Ladenburger, a 19-year-old German medical student

September 6, 2017

The trial of Hussein Khavari, who is accused of raping and killing a young woman in October 2016, began on Sept. 5, 2017 at the regional court in Freiburg, Germany.  Members of the public lined up for two hours before the first day of trial to witness the court proceedings.  Pictures were taken of Khavari arriving at court in handcuffs and shackled at the ankles. The trial is expected to conclude in December after the court hears from at least 45 witnesses and 10 experts.

Maria Ladenburger, 19, a medical student at the University of Freiburg, was found dead on October 16, 2016 in a river in the town of Freiburg near Germany’s border with Switzerland.  Police later arrested Afrhani asylum seeker Khavari, who claimed to be 17 at the time but has now admitted that he was at least 18 when he arrived in Germany in 2015 without any identification or travel documents.  Prosecutors in the case believe that Khavari could be at least 22-years-old.

Ms. Ladenburg attended a party on the night of her death.  Khavari is alleged to have purposely waited outside the party until Ms. Ladenburg left on her bicycle about 3 a.m.  Khavari is alleged to have followed the young student before attacking her by biting her on the head and chest.  Prosecutors allege that Khavari ripped off Ms. Ladenburg’s clothes, choked her and raped her.  Prosecutors further allege that Khvari then threw Ms. Ladenburg into the River Dreisam in hopes that she would drown.

Chief prosecutor Ekkart Berger said at the start of trial:

“What exactly happened that night, the investigators were able to reconstruct in detail. We assume that he had a killing intention from the beginning. . . . At about 3 a.m. or a few minutes earlier, the defendant Hussein attacked Maria. He grabbed the handlebars of the bicycle and brought her to a halt.”

David Muller, head of the police Special Commission, said at a press conference:

“Through interviews and a web-based survey, we were able to reconstruct Maria’s final hours. The 19-year-old student had been at a party. By 2:37 a.m. she left the party, Maria then cycled home as usual. The young woman had been the victim of a sexual offense and a violent crime.”

Khavari told the court that he was born in Afghanistan but moved to Iran when he was 13.  (However, there is evidence that he is Iraqi.) After getting into trouble with the police, Khavari is said to have fled to Turkey and then to Greece.  Stern magazine reported that when he was in Greece he almost killed a 20-year-old girl by throwing her off a cliff in Corfu in 2013 — for which he was sent to prison for 10 years but later released.  Khavari then traveled to Germany as an unaccompanied minor in November 2015.  He is said to have developed an alcohol and drug problem — including the use of heroin up to twice a week for several months.

The assault of the woman in Greece was reported in a United Kingdom publication called METRO:

“It later emerged that Khavari was previously sentenced to 10 years in prison for attempted murder after he threw a woman off a cliff in Corfu in May 2013. is still unclear why Khavari, who arrived in Germany as an unaccompanied minor, was released by Greek authorities after just two years. Apparently, the German authorities knew nothing of his past and so let him into the country as a registered asylum seeker.  The victim, a history student, fell 25 ft down the Greek cliff and only survived because she knew how to protect her head from her hobby of mountaineering.  She said she had been walking home when Khavari suddenly appeared in front of her: ‘I gave him my purse. But when the headlights of a car illuminated him he pushed me backwards.’ Speaking to the Greek TV channel Alfa in 2014 she went on: ‘Then he grabbed me at the hips and legs, lifted me up and threw me down the cliff.’ After Bild newspaper showed a recent photograph of him to his lawyer in the Greek trial, Maria-Eleni Nikolopoulou, she told them: ‘This is the same person, definitely. I’m speechless.'”

(Source: John Roberts, Afghan national ‘raped EU official’s daughter to satisfy sexual urges before killing her’, METRO — Sept. 6, 2017.)

Another account of Khavari’s crime in Greece was reported in the on-line publication Revolvy:

“The suspect, identified as Hussein Khavari, entered Germany in 2015 without identification and claimed to have come from Afghanistan and to have been born in 1999. Because of his age he was granted asylum as an underage unaccompanied refugee and was placed with a foster family.  Following Khavari’s arrest as a suspect for the rape, Stern wrote that in 2014 he had been sentenced to 10 years in prison for robbing a 20-year-old student and throwing her over a cliff in Corfu, Greece during 2013. The victim survived with heavy injuries.  This was confirmed by the suspect’s Greek lawyer and by a fingerprint match. Khavari was released after one and half years in prison due to a general amnesty for juvenile offenders initiated by the Greek government. He violated his probation in Greece by not regularly reporting to a police station and migrated to Germany where German authorities did not find out about his earlier conviction because Greece had not initiated an international search via Interpol.  During the Greek trial in 2014, the suspect told the court that he had been born in 1996 and than he had fled from Iran, both of which conflicts with claims made when he entered Germany. In February 2017 the public prosecution stated that a medical investigation had revealed that the suspect was not a minor, but was at least 22 years old at the time of the crime. In March 2017, because of ‘doubts that could not be dismissed’ the suspect was not accused in criminal court, where the penalty for murder could be life in prison, but instead, in juvenile court, where the same crime carries only a maximum 10-year sentence.”

(Source: Murder of Maria Ladenburger — Revolvy — )

Ms. Ladenburger’s father, Dr. Clemens Ladenburger, is a legal adviser to the European Commission in Brussels.  Ms. Ladenburg worked in her spare time helping out migrants in various shelters and homes in Freiburg.  A funeral was held for Ms. Ladenburger during October 2016 at Notre Dame des Graces Church in Brussels.

Khvari stayed free for seven weeks before police arrested him. On Dec. 2, 2016, police announced at a press conference that they arrested Khavari on suspicion of murdering Ms. Ladenburg.  Khavari was arrested after police found Khavari’s DNA on a scarf belonging to the victim near a bicycle path. Police also found a single strand of Khavari’s hair on a nearby blackberry bush.  The 18.5 cm-long strand of black hair had partially been dyed blond.  Police also viewed a closed circuit video that showed Khavari on a local tram with long black hair partially dyed blond.

About one month after Ms. Ladenburg’s murder, 27-year-old Carolin Gruber was sexually assaulted and murdered in an attack in the same area.  Ms. Gruber’s body was found in a wooded area in Endinge, 18 miles from Freiburg, on Nov. 10, 2016.  Khavari has not been charged with Ms. Gruber’s murder.  Police have found no DNA evidence in the case of Ms. Gruber’s murder.

Comments by the Irish press after Conor McGregor’s loss to Floyd Mayweather

August 27, 2017

American boxer Floyd “Money” Mayweather earned his 50th straight win in a 10th round TKO of Irish UFC champion Conor “The Notorious” McGregor.  Here are some comments made by the Irish press after McGregor’s loss.

The Irish Times — “McGregor was more than gracious [after his loss].  He was almost ebullient, waving a glass of his soon-to-be-launched whiskey brand . . . . And if he seemed a touch more euphoric than beaten boxers generally are, you could understand why. He had faced one of the greats and avoided total humiliation, he had escaped without serious injury, and his earnings, once his cut of the pay-per-view, gate receipts, and merchandise sales is added to the guaranteed $30 million purse, could total around $100 million, making this by far the most lucrative debut in professional boxing history. He didn’t quite get to the top of the world, but from where he’s standing the view doesn’t look too bad.”  (Tim Early, Despite defeat in the ring McGregor has still won.)

Irish Independent — “The UFC lightweight champion was the subject of some ridiculous criticism prior to last evening’s bout and for much of the build-up to the fight he was ridiculed as an unworthy opponent who was simply a part of Floyd Mayweather’s latest cash grab. That was all quickly proven to be inaccurate lat evening and the Irishman did himself, his country, and the sport of MMA proud.” (James Edwards, Conor McGregor may have lost but he won UFC respect in the world of boxing in Floyd Mayweather defeat.)

The Irish Sun — “With the blows raining down on McGregor he should have taken an eight count and perhaps prolonged Mayweather’s 50th bout. But he courageously refused to meet the canvas and instead was rescured by referee Robert Byrd before he was seriously hurt.” (Wally Downes Jr., Floyd Mayweather beats gutsy Conor McGregor with 10th round stoppage to seal place in history.)

Irish Daily Star — “The Notorious put up a fight against the boxing veteran. Mayweather eventually won by TKO in the tenth round. He can sail off into the sunset with his undefeated record intact at 50-0. It’s a different story for McGregor. At just 29-years-old, the Dubliner still has a lot of time to fill and things to do before he announces his retirement. . . . Even though McGregor’s professional boxing record stands at 0-1, he changed a lot of people’s minds last night by putting it up to one of the best ever.”  (Sean Walsh, Conor McGregor lost to Mayweather, but what will he do next?)

Irish Daily Mirror — “Conor McGregor will spend a few days reflecting on his defeat by Floyd Mayweather but talk will then return to the Irishman’s next fight. McGregor started well against the boxing legend on Saturday night before he fatigued and Mayweather’s class prevailed.  And [McGregor] is now expected to return to the UFC.”  (Martin Domin, What next for Conor McGregor? Irishman faces tough decisions after defeat by Floyd Mayweather.)

Irish Daily Mail — “But there were no tickets to spare for McGregor’s official after-party, which took place at the Encore Beach Club in Las Vegas in the early hours of Sunday. McGregor had been stopped by Mayweather in round 10, but the defiant Irishman grabbed the mic and shouted to his reveling supporters: ‘You’ll never beat the Irish!’ . . . The 29-year-old, who earned a basic purse of 62 million pounds for the fight, certainly did not look like a man who had lost.  Before dancing on stage to Fat Joe’s All the Way Up, he addressed his adoring fans. . . . McGregor, who arrived at the club around 3 am, supplied his entourage with free drinks to the value of 77,643 pounds.” (Robert Summerscales, Conor McGregor celebrates hard despite losing to Floyd Mayweather as 62 million pound richer MMA fighter signs for 77,643 pound booze bill and tells fans at 150 pound-a-ticket after-party: ‘You’ll never beat the Irish’.”)

The Irish News — “Conor McGregor was ‘brought to school’ by Floyd Mayweather and needs to ‘stay in his lane,’ according to former heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis. UFC star McGregor lasted 10 rounds with Mayweather in his maiden professional boxing match in Las Vegas, as his opponent stopped him to retire with a perfect 50-0 record.  Many had predicted McGregor would barely last a round with one of the greatest fighters of all time, so he has earned some credit to have stayed the course for as long as he did.”  (Conor McGregor given boxing lesson by Mayweather say Lennox Lewis.)

The Straits Times — “Irish media hailed Dublin-born Conor McGregor for a gritty display on Sunday following his 10th-round loss to Floyd Mayweather in their Las Vegas super-fight. . . . McGregor wears his Irish identity with pride and trooped into the ring draped in the national flag in front of thousands of his supporters, who had spent vast sums of money to fly to Las Vegas.”  (AFP, Irish media talks up Conor McGregor’s fighting spirit despite loss.)

Irish Examiner — “Conor McGregor was told he had ‘nothing to be ashamed of’ by boxing great Lennox Lewis and several others came out in support of the Irishman as the dust started to settle on his round 10 loss to Floyd Mayweather in Las Vegas.  The UFC star was not expected to last longer than a round by many on his boxing debut, particularly given his opponent is one of the greatest fighters of all time. But going into the 10th round has earned him plenty of credit, particularly on American soil, with the bout described as ‘amazing’ and McGregor praised for making the notoriously cagey Mayweather open up.”  The article noted that Shane Mosley tweeted: “Damn good fight. Mayweather put on a hell of a show. Conor did much better than I had expected. Hats off to both guys. Worth the money.” The article also quoted a tweet by Manny Pacquiao: “Respect to McGregor for taking a chance but congrats to Floyd on #50!”  (Conor McGregor receives support from boxing legends after loss.)

NHL drafts four Swedes in the first round

July 4, 2017

Four Swedes were drafted by NHL teams during the first round of the 2017 NHL Entry Draft. The first round of the 55th entry draft took place on June 23, 2017 at Chicago. Hockey players born between Jan. 1, 1997 and Sept. 15, 199 were eligible for selection in the draft.

Pick No. 5 by the Vancouver Canucks — The Vancouver Canucks drafted Elias Pettersson (6-2, 164 pound center), who played for the Vaxjo Lakers Hockey Club of the Swedish Hockey League in Vaxjo, Sweden during the 2016-17 season. Petterssson is said to have great instincts and can create offense with good speed and quickness. His brother, Emil Pettersson, who is also a center, was selected in the sixth round (No. 155) of the 2013 NHL Draft by the Nashville Predators.  Emil now plays in the Swedish Hockey League.  Elias Pettersson, 18, was born on Nov. 12, 1998 at Sundsvall, Sweden.




Pick No. 7 by the New York Rangers — The New York Rangers drafted Lias Andersson (5-11, 200 pound center), who played for Frolunda Hockey Club of the Swedish Hockey League in Gothenburg, Sweden during the 2016-17 season.  He has also played for HV71 of the Swedish Hockey League in Jonkoping, Sweden. Andersson is said to be a rugged, two-way left-handed center who is effective on face offs and hard to knock off the puck.  He can also play wing.  Andersson recently signed a two-year contact with Frolunda in Sweden and will report in 2017-18.  He is the son of former NHL player Niklas Andersson.  Andersson’s uncle, Mikael Andersson, also played in the NHL.  His grandfather, Ronnie Andersson, played goaltender for Vastra Frolunda, Sweden.  Lias Anderson, 18, was born on Oct. 13, 1998 at Smogen, Sweden.




Pick No. 15 by the Vegas Golden Knights — The Vegas Golden Knights drafted Erik Brannstrom (5-9, 179 pound defenseman), who played for HV71 of the Swedish Hockey League in Jonkoping, Sweden during the 2016-17 season.  Brannstrom is said to be an outstanding skater and a two-way player who defends as well as he pushes the offensive pace.  It is said than Brannstrom, although undersized, could turn out to be the sleeper pick of the 2017 draft class.  Brannstrom, 17, was born on Sept. 2, 1999 at Eksjo, Sweden.




Pick No. 17 by the Toronto Maple Leafs — The Toronto Maple Leafs drafted Timothy Liljegren (5-11, 188 pound defenseman), who played for Rogle BK (Rogle Bandyklubb) of the Swedish Hockey League in Angelholm, Sweden during the 2016-17 season.  He is said to have tremendous speed, balance and feel for the game, makes good decisions under pressure and control the play at both blue lines.  Liljegren is expected to return to Sweden to further his development.  Liljegren, 18, was born on April 30, 1999 at Kristianstad, Sweden.




Second Round, Pick No. 36 by the New Jersey Devils — The New Jersey Devils drafted Jesper Boqvist (5-11, 165 pound center), who played for Brynas IF of the Swedish Hockey League in Gavle, Sweden during the 2016-17 season.  Boqvist, 18, was born on Oct. 30, 1998 at Falun, Sweden.

Second Round, Pick No. 37 by the Buffalo Sabres — The Buffalo Sabres drafted Marcus Davidsson (6-0, 191 pound center), who played for Djurgarden IF Ice Hockey Club of the Swedish Hockey League in Stockholm, Sweden during the 2016-17 season.  Davidsson, 18, was born on Nov. 18, 1998 at Tyreso, Sweden.

Second Round, Pick No. 38 by the Detroit Red Wings — The Detroit Red Wings drafted Gustav Lindstrom.  Additional information is not available on Lindstrom.

Second Round, Pick No. 44 by the Arizona Coyotes — The Arizona Coyotes drafted Filip Westerlund (5-11, 180 pound defenseman), who played for Frolunda Hockey Club of the Swedish Hockey League in Gothenburg, Sweden during the 2016-17 season.  Westerlund, 18, was born on April 17, 1999 at Harnosand, Sweden.

Swedish hockey players drafted during rounds three through seven — There were 21 Swedish players draft in the Third, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth and Seventh rounds.

Third Round — Fabian Zetterlund, LW, Farjestad (Swe  Jr.) and Jonas Rondbjerg, RW, Vaxjo (Swe Jr.).

Fourth Round — Malte Setkov, D, Malmo (Swe Jr.), Tim Soderlund, C, Skelleftea (Swe) and Emil Bernstrom, C, Leksand (Swe Jr.).

Fifth Round — Lukas Elvenes, RW, Rogle (Swe Jr.), Jacob Peterson, C, Frolunda (Swe Jr.), Sebastian Aho, D, Skelleftea (Swe), Calle Sjalin, D, Ostersund (Swe 3), Sebastian Walfridsson, D, MODO (Swe Jr.), Jan Drozg, LW, Leksand (Swe U18), Olle Eriksson Ek, G, Farjestad (Swe Jr.) and Linus Olund, C, Brynas (Swe).

Sixth Round — Arvid Holm, G, Karlskrona (Swe Jr.), Olle Lycksell, RW, Linkoping (Swe Jr.) and Jonathan Davidsson, RW, Djurgarden (Swe).

Seventh Round — Eric Walli-Walterholm, RW, Djurgarden (Swe Jr.), Victor Berglund, D, MODO (Swe Jr.), Filip Sveningsson, LW, HV71 (Swe Jr.), Anton Andersson, D, Lulea (Swe Jr.) and K. Roykas Marthinsen, LW, Almtuna (Swe Jr.).

Number One Draft Pick — The number one draft pick was Nico Hischier (6-1, 178 pound center), who became the highest drafted Switzerland-born player in NHL history.  Hischier was drafted by the New Jersey Devils.  During the 2016-17 season he played for Halifax Mooseheads in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL).  In his first season in the QMJHL, Hischier was named rookie of the year and was named the best rookie in the Canadian Hockey League (CHL).  Hischier, 18, was born on Jan. 4, 1999 at Naters, Switzerland.




Number Two Draft Pick — The number two draft pick was Nolan Patrick (6-2, 199 pound center) of Canada.  Patrick was drafted by the Philadelphia Flyers. During the 2016-17 season he played for the Brandon Wheat Kings of the Western Hockey League (WHL). Patrick’s father, Steve Patrick, and his uncle, James Patrick, each played in the NHL. Patrick’s grandfather, Stephen Patrick, played professional football with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in the Canadian Football League (CFL).  Patrick, 18, was born on Sept. 19, 1998 at Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.

Number Three Draft Pick — The number three draft pick was Miro Heiskanen (6-1, 172 pound defenseman) of Finland.  Heiskanen was drafted by the Dallas Stars. He was regarded as the best draft-eligible defenseman at the IIHF World Under-18 Championship for silver medal-winning Finland with two goals and 10 assists in seven games.  During the 2016-17 season he played for Sporting Society Comrades, Helsinki (HIFK) in Finland.  Heiskanen, 17, was born on July 18, 1999 at Espoo, Finland.



June 30, 2017





Vasternorrland County (Vasternorrlands lan) is a county (lan) in the north of Sweden on the Gulf of Bothnia.  The name Vasternorrland means “Western Norland,” as it was in the western part of the original Norrland (northern Sweden and northern Finland).

Vasternorrland’s area takes in most of the two traditional provinces of Medelpad and Angermanland.  Vasternorrland has an area of 23,107 square meters (8,922 square miles).

Norrland has high mountains, rushing rivers, small cold mountain brooks, lakes, sea, forests and wilderness.  Along the coast of the northern part of Sweden are many beautiful cities and towns.  Some of the cities along the coastline are Ornskoldsvik, Harnosand and Sundsvall, which are major shipping centers for timber and pulp.

Skuleskogen National Park is located 27 km (17 miles) south of Ornskoldsvik and 40 km (25 miles) north of Kramfors.  It covers a surface of 3,062 hectares (7,570 acres), of which 282 hectares (700 acres) are maritime.  There are many rocky peaks.  The highest peak is Slattdalsberget, which is 280 meters (920 feet) high.

Vasternorrland is said to be the land of Sweden’s “green gold” due to huge forests, forestry industries and a centuries-old tradition and expertise in wood-working skills.

The municipalities within Vasternorrland are Harmosand (population 25,269) Kramfors (18,681), Solleftea (19,846), Sundsvall (98,325), Timra (17,992), Ange (9,495) and Ornskoldsvik (55,964).  The total population of Vasternorrland County is 245,572.

(Source: Statistiska Centralbyran, Sverige.)

The largest populations within Vasternorrland County are Sundsvall (including Johannedal, Sundsbruk and Tunadal — 58,065), Ornskoldsvik (including Gimat, Overhornas, Arnasvall and Vasterhus — 32,700), Harnosand (18,600), Timra (10,497), Solleftea (including Sollefea norra — 8,885), Kvissleby (including Njurundabommen, Skottsund, Dingersjo, Essvik and Juniskar — 8,797), Kramfors (including Frano — 6,752), and Vi (Alvik including Gustavsberg — 5,827).


Harnosand the seat of Harnosand Municipality.  Harnosand is a beautiful small town near the island of Harnon.  It is called “the gate to the High Coast” and “the Athens of Northern Sweden.”  The town has the largest open-air museum in the northern part of Sweden.  The museum is called “Murberget.”  Harnosand has a long and rich maritime history. Harnosand was formerly a shipbuilding town. It is located on a beautiful and dramatic coastline. There are three marinas in central Harnosand.  The Adalen 3 is a tourist boat that leaves from the dock at the wharf in central Harnosand.  Harnosand opened its first theater in the early 1840s.  Today’s theater building is located on Central Park and was opened in 1970.  The town installed electric street lighting in 1885 — the first place in Europe with such lighting. The city was first built in 1585.

The High Coast Bridge (Hoga Kusten Bron) spans the Angerman River near Veda on the border between Harnosand and Kramfors.  It is the fourth longest suspension bridge in Europe and the third longest suspension bridge in Scandinavia (after the Great Belt Fixed Link in Denmark and the Hardanger Bridge in Norway).  The bridge was constructed between 1993 and 1997 and was officially opened on Dec. 1, 1997.  The total length is 1,867 meters (6,125 feet), the span is 1,210 meters (3,970 feet) and the column pillars are 180 meters (591 feet) tall.  The maximum height for ships is 40 meters (131 feet).

Harnosand was granted its town charter in 1585.  It is the county’s oldest city.








Kramfors is the seat of Kramfors Municipality.  The High Coast Bridge (Hoga Kusten Bron) crosses the Angerman River (Angermanalven River) near Kramfors.  The suspension bridge spans 180 meters and is only 70 meters shorter than the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco.  The larger communities of Umea and Sundsvall are situated within a commuting distance of Kramfors.  (Umea is the capital of Vasterbotten County — Vasterbottens lan).







Solleftea is the seat of Solleftea Municipality.  It is located at the lowest rapids of the Angerman River (Angermanalven). The Angerman River winds through the municipality on its way to the sea.  The river is 450 km and is the longest navigable river in Sweden.  A building called the “Pharmacy Building” was constructed in 1889 in the neo-Gothic style. The building now serves as a library and the city’s museum.  A wooden structure, the Hotel Appelbergs, is located in central Solleftea.  It was built in 1882 by lumberman and innkeeper Erik Appelberg. Guests at the hotel have included King Oscar II and King Gustav V.

Although Solleftea is an age-old trading and commercial center, it was not granted its charter as a town until 1917.  The town is well-known for its military regiment.

There is salmon and sea trout fishing in the Angerman River in the middle of the town of Solleftea and grayling fishing in the Meaforsen rapids of the Fax River.







Sundsvall is the seat of Sundsvall Municipality.  Sundsvall lies at the mouth of the Selanger River and the Gulf of Bothnia. Sundsvall is the center of one of the most important pulp and paper producing regions in northern Europe.  Mid Sweden University (Mittuniversitetet) is located in Sundsvall.  The university was founded in 1993 at has about 9,000 students and 550 faculty members. After fires in 1721 and 1803, the town was entirely rebuilt in brick and stone.  Kulturmagasinet near the harbor is a cultural center that serves as a library and a museum.  Located near Sundsvall is the county’s largest airport, the Sundsvall-Harnosand Airport (aka Sundsvall-Timra Airport).

The town’s website says:

“Ideally situated in the middle of Sweden near the mouths of the Ljungan and Indalsalven rivers, the town of Sundsvall lies where Selanger Creek flows into Sundsvall Bay and the Gulf of Botnia.  Our town is located 380 km North of Stockholm. The town of Sundsvall was rapidly transformed to the industrial centre of the Norrland region during the industrial revolution in the 1880s. In recent years the town has been less depending on heavy industry and more focused on trade and education. The Sundsvall region, home to some 115,000 people, is the most densely populated area of northern Sweden. It plays a prominent role, not only in sports, industry and commerce, but also in education, culture and the arts. In July we host one of the largest street festivals in Sweden. The Gatufesten festival attracts up to 180,000 people.”

Hirschska House (Huset) is located in the Nyttan neighborhood of Sundsvall.  The Northern European Renaissance structure was completed in 1891 after the devastating Sundsvallsbranden in 1888.

Sweden’s largest coastal delta is formed at the mouth of the 430 kilometer Indalsalven River where it flows into the Gulf of Bothnia. (The Indalsalven River has 26 power plants located along its 166-mile stretch.) The airport is located in the middle of the delta.  The 322 kilometer long Ljungan River empties into the Gulf of Bothnia just south of Sundsvall.

There is a ferry from Umea, Sweden to Vaasa, Finland (population 67,495) that is operated by Wasaline.  The ferry is called the M/S Wasa Express.  The ferry has the capacity to transport 850 passengers and there are two large car decks.  The ferry is owned by the cities of Umea and Vaasa.  During the peak season the ferry makes eight crossing per week.  The ferry’s route across the Kvarken Archipelago takes 4 hours 30 minutes.








Timra (10,497) is the seat of Timra Municipality.  Indalsalven, one of Sweden’s largest rivers meets the Gulf of Botnia in Timra.  A total of 26 hydropower plants are located along the course of the 430 km long river.  Timra is located 13 km north of Sundsvall.  A 3o-meter high sculpture known as “the Y” was constructed in 1995 at Midlanda Airport (Midlanda Flygplats AB) in Timra by Swedish artist Bengt Karl Erik Lindstrom (1925-2008).  Lindstrom studied under Swedish painter Isaac Grunewald (1889-1946) and French painters Andre Lhot(1885-1962) and Fernand Leger (1881-1955).  Villa Merlo (Merlo Slott), pictured below, is the only castle in Norrland.










Ange (2,874) is the seat of Ange Municipality.  Ange is a railway junction where the northern main line railway (Norra Stambanan) connects with the central main line railway (Mittbanan).  Norra Stambanan is a 268 kilometer (167 mile) long electrified railway between Gavle, Sweden and Ange.  Mittbanan is a railway from Sundsvall to Storlien to the Swedish-Norweigian border, from where it continues to Torndheim, Norway as the Merakerbanen.

Swedish artist Bengt Lindstrom (1925-2008) created a 6.5 meter high Tangen sculpture made of painted concrete in Ange.  It was inaugurated on Sept. 3, 1995 (or 1996) in the presence of the King and Queen of Sweden.  The rock bands Takida, The Grand Opening and Corroded are from Ange.

The town of Borgsjo is located 13 kilometers east of Ange.  (Borgsjo is located in Jamtland County (Jamtland lan), Sweden.  Ostersund (population 112,717) is Jamtland’s only city.)





Ornskoldsvik the seat of Ornskoldsvik County.  In almost the middle of central Ornskoldsvik is a mountain named “Varvsberget.”  The mount is 150 meters high and from the top there is a nice view of the city.  There is a ski jump on the mountain called “The Paradise Hill.”  Many world famous hockey players began the sport at Ornskoldsvik including Peter Forsberg, Markus Nashlund, Niklas Sundstrom and twins Daniel and Henrik Seldin.  Umea University is located about 110 km northeast of Ornskoldsvik in North Middle Sweden, which is partially located in Norrland and mainly in Svealand.  (North Middle Sweden is comprised of three counties: Dalarna, Gavleborg and Varmland.) Umea University was founded in 1965 has about 20,500 students and about 2,300 faculty members.  Umea University is the largest institution of higher learning in Northern Sweden.

Ornskoldsvik was granted its town charter in 1893.  It is the trade and commerce center of the northern part of the province.  It has many beautifully restored ancient stone buildings and dramatic new architecture.







The sinking of the Swedish warship Vasa

June 25, 2017

In 1628, the 69 meter Swedish warship Vasa sunk on its maiden voyage out of Stockholm harbor.  The sunken ship was located in 1956 and was recovered in 1961. The ship has been displayed at the Vasa Museum in Stockholm since 1990.  Vasa is the world’s only preserved 17th century ship and is Sweden’s biggest archaeological tourist attraction.



Vasa had a width of about 11 meters and a maximum height of about 20 meters — not including masts.  (The ship was more than 50 meters tall from the keel to the top of the main mast.) The hull consisted of three layers and was approximately 40 cm thick. The ship weighed 1,200 tons.

It is concluded that Vasa, which was fitted with 64 cannons weighing 70 tons, was top-heavy.  It capsized and sank after sailing less than one mile.  The ship had more than 100 crewmen aboard along with guests including women and children.   More than 50 persons drowned.  When the ship was recovered about 25 human skeletons were found in the ship.

“Although Vasa was a Swedish warship constructed in Stockholm, it was designed and built by Dutch shipwrights. In the early 17th century, the Dutch rose to prominence as the premier shipbuilders in Europe. The quality of Dutch-built vessels were renowned and Dutch shipwrights were hired to build the merchant fleets and navies throughout Europe.”  Source: Kelby James Rose, The Naval Architecture of Vasa, a 17th Century Swedish Warship at 8 (doctoral dissertation submitted to the Office of Graduate and Professional Studies of Texas A & M University — 2014).

“Despite his pivotal role in the construction of Vasa and eminence as a royal shipbuilder, little is known about Henrik Hybertsson. He was born in the Netherlands . . . [and] in the early 1600s, Hybetsson moved to Sweden where he was commonly referred to as Master Henrik. . . . By the time he entered into the Stockholm shipyard contract, he was likely one of the most experienced shipwrights in Sweden. . . . Hybertsson eventually moved to Stockholm . . . [and] in 1621, Master Henrik joined the contract held by Anton Monier for operation of the Stockholm shipyard. Along with his partner Arendt de Groot, Hybertsson signed a new contract in January of 1625 and that was scheduled to take effect in January 1626.  Hybertsson was likely concerned primarily with organizational and administrative matters of the shipyard and left most practical construction matters to two other shipwrights in his employ, Henrik Jacobsson and Johan Isbrandsson (both Dutch). . . . Master Henrik’s health began to deteriorate in 1625. In the summer of 1626, he handed practical responsibility for the operation of the shipyard to his chief assistant Henrik Jacobsson who would oversee the completion of Vasa. Hybertsson was bedridden by the end of 1626 and died in the late spring of 1627.”  (Source: Rose dissertation at 45-46.)

“Although Vasa was the largest naval architecture project of Henrik Hybertsson’s life, this was not the case with Henrik Jacobsson. Following Vasa’s sinking, Jacobsson went on to build at least three more large and successful warships. . . . All three of Jacobsson’s warships had successful careers.”  (Source: Rose dissertation at 318.)

In an academic article by, Richard E. Fairley, a faculty member at the Oregon Graduate Institute School of Science and Engineering, Mr. Fairley wrote about Vasa’s sinking:

“Around 4:00 PM on August 10th, 1628 the warship Vasa set sail in Stockholm harbor on its maiden voyage as the newest ship of the Royal Swedish Navy.  After sailing about 1,300 meters, a light gust of wind caused the Vasa to heel over on its side. Water poured in through the gun portals and the ship sank with a loss of 53 lives. The Vasa lay in shallow waters off Stockholm harbor (at 32 meters depth) and after initial attempts to salvage it failed, was largely forgotten until it was located by Anders Franzen in 1956. In 1961, 333 years after it sank, the Vasa was raised and was so well preserved that it could float after the gun portals were sealed and water and mud were pumped from it.” Source: Richard E. Fairley,  Why the Vasa Sank: 10 Lessons Learned at 1.

Authors Lars-Ake Kvarning and Bengt Ohrelius described Vasa’s maiden voyage:

“Between three and four in the afternoon of Sunday August 10th, Captain Sofring Hansson gave orders to cast off.  Slowly, the Vasa was towed out from her place by the crane. Her maiden voyage had begun. In calm and lovely weather, with a light south-west wind the Vasa was towed along Skeppsbron. The great lion figure-head, glowing in its colours, gazed grimly over towards the slopes of south Stockholm. Men were all ready at the handspikes round the great capstan to start their circular march to wind up the huge anchor hawser. The march began and as the anchor hawser curled in, the Vasa moved slowly forward. In one of the ship’s boats, a new anchor was already being rowed in for the next round. The road from the palace down to the water outside the heights of Soder is long considering the anchors, manpower and capstan. There were many people out and about in town, vespers were just over and the churches emptying. A large number of Stockholm’s roughly 10,000 people had come out to enjoy this late summer evening and to witness the ship’s departure. . . . Everything on board was secured and made ready to go to sea. All gun tackle was secured and belayed — only one small one pounder, called falkon, lying on deck and with no gun-carriage, was not secured. . . . The stern cable was cast off, the wind not strong, the south cliffs providing lee. With only four sails hoisted, the ship was moving quite slowly with scarcely any steerage-way. Then the wind increased slightly. Water began swirling round the bows and rippling faintly round the sturdy oak hull. The Vasa fired svensk losen (two shots). A fierce gust from the clifftops made the ship heel over, but then she straightened up again. Slowly, the Vasa slipped along the southern shores, the evening sun high above the lake Malaren, its rays giving lustre to the colours and gold of the richly decorated stern, the cliff still providing lee. . . . Beyond what was then the bay at Tegelviken, the wind was suddenly given much freer play and again a gust of wind from inland made the Vasa unexpectedly heeled fiercely over. All at once, she straightened up again, but this fierce careening had caused some uneasiness. The captain shouted through his megaphone that all men should immediately go to their stations, and he gave orders to loosen the topsail sheets. But the wind was not even strong enough to pull the new rope through their well-greased blocks and help was actually needed to ease them through. She heeled over again. The list was even greater this time, and water began rushing in through the open gun-ports. The list increased even further until the Vasa’s railing was in the water. Her moment of destiny had come. Just off Beckholmen, she went to the bottom at full sail, flags and all. . . . No one knows with any certainty how many people were on board. According to available crew recommendations, however, the crew on the Vasa should have consisted of 133 seamen. . . . It is said that old Captain Hans Jonsson was drowned and that Ordnance Master Erik Jonsson and the captain got away after being for a long time under  water in great danger of their lives. No list has ever been found in any of the archives of those who were saved or those who died. At the most, fifty or so people probably died in the disaster. In the excavation after the salvaging, however, only skeletons and parts of skeletons of twenty-five people were found.”

Source: Lars-Ake Kvarning and Bengt Ohrelius, The Vasa: The Royal Ship 18-22 (1972 — reprinted 2002). (Paragraphing omitted.)

Here is another account of Vasa’s sinking:

“On her maiden voyage on August 10, 1628, the Vasa sailed out of port and into Stockholm’s harbor. Les than a mile out, her sails filled with wind, and she fired a salute. A cheer went up from the assembled onlookers. Suddenly, she heeled sharply onto her port side. She righted herself briefly before heeling again. This time, water rushed into her gun ports, and she promptly sank to the bottom of the harbor. Sweden lost 50 lives that day, and the crown lost a fortune. The Vasa’s guns, carvings, and majestic trappings plummeted into 110 feet (33 m) of cold, Baltic water.”

Source: Liz Mechem, Disasters at Sea: A Visual History of Infamous Shipwrecks 44 (2009).




King Gustav II Adolphus of Sweden was in Poland at the time of Vasa’s sinking.  The King demanded that those responsible be punished for “imprudence and negligence.”  After an inquiry, no one was found to be negligent or punished.

Admiral Baron Carl Carlsson Gyllenheim (1574-1650) was a half brother of King Gustav II Adolphus (1594-1632).  Gustav II was the King of Sweden from 1611-1632.




The King may have been partially responsible for Vasa’s sinking.  He insisted that the ship take up her station as the flagship of the Baltic fleet as soon as possible. Captain Hansson, the person with some responsibility for the construction of the ship,  had warned Vice Admiral Flemming that the ship had stability problems.  However, Captain Hansson and Vice Admiral Flemming were apparently too timid to discuss the ship’s structural problems with the King.

“That the Vasa was launched with known stability problems is the result of poor communication, pressure from King Gustav to launch the ship as soon as possible, the fact that the King was in Poland conducting a war campaign, and because no one had any suggestions for making the ship more stable.”  (Source: Fairley article at 5.)

“During his reign, Gustav Adolf invested enormous administrative effort and capital into the growth and improvement of the Swedish military. The king viewed military strength as a primary tool to advance the position of Sweden within the Baltic and as a defensive strategy against potentially hostile neighbors. Gustav Adolph began a campaign of strengthening his navy in the mid-1620s, which included the construction of several large and heavily armed warships.  The first of these was Vasa.”  (Source: Rose dissertation at 15-16.)

Vasa was not the only large ship to sink on its maiden voyage.  The list includes the RMS Titantic (British passenger liner that collided with an iceberg and sank in the North Atlantic Ocean on April 15, 1912), the MS Georges Philippar (French ocean liner that caught fire and sank in the Gulf of Aden on May 15, 1932) and the SS John Morgan (World War II liberty ship that collided with a tanker and sank off the coast of Virginia on June 1, 1943).

“The sinking of the Vasa was a major disaster for Sweden. The country was at war with Poland and the ship was needed for the war effort. No expense had been spared. The Vasa was the most expensive project ever undertaken by Sweden and it was a total loss. The ship’s captain survived the sinking and was immediately thrown in jail. On August 11th, the day after the disaster, a preliminary board of inquiry was convened. Incompetence of the captain and crew was ruled out and the captain was set free. A formal hearing was conducted in September 1628. No exact reason for the sinking was determined and no one was blamed.” (Source: Fairley article at 1.)

“Preliminary hearings by state councillors on the accident began at Stockholm Palace the very next day [after Vasa’s sinking], to which the captain, who had only just escaped with his life, and the Master Shipbuilder of Holmen were both summoned. Captain Sofring had been taken into custody at the palace as soon as he had come ashore, but was released a few days later. On September 5th, a major enquiry was held at the  palace by an especially arranged court consisting of seventeen people, of which six were state concillors. The Admiral of the Fleet, Carl Carlsson Gyllenhielm, acted as chairman. . . . The records of this major enquiry are preserved only i a fragmentary copy, but they nevertheless provide certain opportunities to assess the causes of the accident and a reconstruction of the trial. . . . The intention to try to find a scapegoat quickly is very clear. Not least with the knowledge of the severe punishments of the day, it is impossible not to feel pity for those involved in the drama. It is also understandable that the atmosphere must occasionally have been ominously tense.”

Source: Book by Kvarning and Ohrelius at 25-26.  (Paragraphing omitted.)

“During the formal inquiry, several witnesses commented that the Vasa was ‘heavier above than below,’ but no one pursued the questions of how or why the Vasa had become top-heavy.  There was no mention of the weight of the second deck, the guns, the carvings, or other equipment. In those days, most people (including the experts) thought the higher and more impressive a warship, and the more and bigger the guns it carried, the more indestructible it would be.  (Source: Farley article at 4.)

Technical data of Vasa: Total length (including bowsprit) — 69.0 m; greatest width: 11.7 m; Draught: 4.8 m; total height at main mast: 52.5 m; height of sternship: 19.3 m; displacement: 1,210 tons; area of sail: 1,275 sq m; number of sails: 10; guns: 64, of which 48 24-pounders, eight 3-pounders and six mortars; crew: 145 men, 300 soldiers.

Source: Book by Kvarning and Ohrelius at 31.

In 2011, a documentary was released on Vasa by Swedish director and screenwriter Anders Wahlgren.  The film is titled Vasa 1628 — The People. The Ship. The Era.  Books written about the Vasa include Carl Olof Cederlund, Vasa I, The Archaeology of a Swedish Warship of 1628 (F. Hocker ed. 2006); Fred Hocker, Vasa: A Swedish Warship (2011); Larso-Ake Kvarning and Bengt Ohrelius, The Vasa: the Royal Ship (1998); Hans Soop, The Power and the Glory: The Sculptures of the Warshipo Wasa (1986); Anders Franzen, The Warship Vasa: Deep Diving and Marine Archaeology in Stockholm (1974) and Lars-Ake Kvarning and Bengt Ohrelius, The Vasa: The Royal Warship (1972).

On May 31, 1564, the Swedish warship Mars sank during a naval battle with a Danish force allied with soldiers from Germany off the coast of Oland, a Swedish island.  At the time, Mars was the largest and fiercest warship in the world.  In 2011, a group of divers located the sunken ship in 246 feet (75 meters) of water.

“During the day of sailing ships, Dalaro was Stockholm’s outer harbour. . . . But ships have been lost even in the sheltered harbour of Dalaro. In the summer of 1676, the man-of-war Riksapplet [Apple of the Realm] was wrecked in a south-westerly storm on a small skerry and sank at sixteen metres in depth.  The little islet is today called Appelskar [Apple Skerry].  The Riksapplet had a crew of 500 men and carried 86 guns.  Yet another ship was lost in Dalaro harbour.  The same year as the Riksapplet sank, the Grone Jagaren [the Green Hunter] blew up and sank to the depth of thirty metres. . . . Inside Nybroviken in Stockholm lies the 44-gun ship Vastervik.  She caught fire and sank there during the 1676 year of misfortune, when Sweden also lost the sea battle against the Danish-Dutch fleet at Oland. In dramatic circumstances, the great ship Kronan [the Crown] was lost with 850 men on board.”

Source: Book by Kvarning and Ohrelius at 12-13. (Paragraphing omitted.)


Winter 1624-1625: King Gustav II Adolf signs a contract with Dutch master shipwright Henrik Hybertsson and his business partner, Arendt de Groote, to build four ship including Vasa.

1626: Hybertsson becomes ill and can no longer supervise Vasa’s construction. Hybertsson’s assistant, Hein Jakobsson, takes over for Hybertsson.

1627: Vasa is launched during the spring at Stockholm.  Hundreds of craftsmen work through the summer to finish the hull and rigging.

Summer 1628: Captain Sofring Hansson calls Vice Admiral Klas Flemming to report that he is worried about the stability of the ship.  Admiral Flemming is afraid that the ship might sink at tbe quay.  Under pressure from the King, Admiral Flemming orders Captain Hansson to carry on.

August 10, 1628: On Vasa’s maiden voyage the ship sinks within sight of the shipyard after water gushes in through the open gun ports.  Thousands of Stockholm residents witness the scene together with several foreign ambassadors.

Autumn 1628: An inquest is conducted.  It is concluded that the ship did not have enough hull to carry the heavy upper works.  Hybertsson is blamed for the ship’s design.  He cannot defend himself because he died the year before.

1663-1665: Repeated efforts to raise the ship all fail.  A team of divers led by Albrecht von Treileben and Andreas Peckell succeed in salvaging most of Vasa’s cannons.  The divers use a recently perfected invention, the diving bell.

1920: Brothers Simon and Leonard Olschanski apply for a permit to salvage ships sunk in Stockholm harbor.  They plan to blow up the wrecks and to sell black oak, waterlogged wood, which is popular for use in Art Deco furniture.  Their application is dened.

August 1956: Anders Franzen’s crew drags Stockholm harbor.  While dragging, an obstruction is found on the bottom in front of the island of Beckholmen.

September 1956: Per Edvin Falting, the Navy’s chief salvage diver, discovers Vasa standing upright on the bottom of the harbor.

September 1958: One of Vasa’s cannons is brought up from the deep.  Per Edvin Falting becomes a media hero.

August 1959: Vasa is lifted and moved in 18 stages.  By September the ship lies at a depth of 17 meters by the island of Kastellholmen.  Divers will spend another 1.5 years preparing the ship for the final lift.

April 24, 1961: Vasa is lifted to the surface.  The event makes headlines throughout the world.

February 16, 1962: Vasa is displayed to the general public at the newly-constructed Wasa Shipyard.  During 1962 nearly 440,000 people buy a ticket to see the ship and its contents.

April 1962: The operation begins to reconstruct and preserve Vasa. The ship is sprayed with polyethylene glycol PEG to prevent the ship from being destroyed. This treatment continues until 1979.

1979-1989: The ship continues to dry.  The drying process will go on for decades until the ship completely stabilizes.

1989: The graves of 11 people who died when Vasa sank are opened after having been buried at the National Naval Cemetery in 1963.  Research is conducted on the remains.  Ten of these people become part of a special exhibit at Vasa Museum in 2004.

June 15, 1990: A museum is officially opened to display Vasa.  The museum was designed by Swedish architects Hidemark Mansson Arkitekkontor AB.

Summer 2000: It is feared that Vasa is in danger of dissolving away due to high humidity combining with sulphur in the wood to produce destructive acids.  A new, state-of-the-art climate controlled facility becomes on line in 2004.

2011: Vasa celebrates the 50th anniversary of its recovery from the depths.  A records 1.2 million people visit the museum.

(Timeline credit: Vasa Museum)