The 1918 pandemic ruined the remote metropoli of stersund. But its bequest is a city and country well-equipped to deal with 21 st century challenges
On 15 September 1918, a 12 -year-old boy identified Karl Karlsson who lived just outside Ostersund, Sweden, wrote a short diary enter:” Two who died of Spanish influenza embed today. A few snowflakes in the air .”
For all its brevity and matter-of-fact tone, Karlsson’s journal stimulates grim read. It is 100 years since a particularly virulent stres of avian flu, known as the Spanish flu despite likely originating in America, ravaged the globe, killing somewhere between 50 million and 100 million people. While its effects were felt everywhere, it struck particularly hard in Ostersund, earning the city the name” capital of the Spanish influenza “.
” Looking back through contemporaneous accounts was quite creepy ,” says Jim Hedlund at the city’s commonwealth repository.” As many people died in two months as generally died in a whole year. I even found out that three of my forbears were embed on the same day .”
There were three main reasons why the flu made this remote metropolitan so difficult: Ostersund had speedy railway communications, several legion regiments stationed in close quarters and a malnourished population living in cramped accommodation. As neutral Sweden retained its armed forces on high alert between 1914 and 1918, the garrison town’s population swelled from 9,000 to 13,000.
By 1917, when navvies poured in and structure started on an inland railway to the north, widespread food shortages had led to violent employees’ demonstrations and a near mutiny among the army units.
The city became a hotbed of political activism. Its small-time sizing put the unequal distribution of money in early industrial society under the microscope. While working-class families mobbed into insalubrious accommodation, wealthy tourists from other parts of Sweden and farther afield came for the fresh mountain breath and restorative water- as well as the excellent angling and elk hunting( passionate angler Winston Churchill was a regular visitor ).
” Many of the demonstrators’ pertains seem strikingly modern ,” says Hedlund, pointing to a facsimile of a political poster that speaks:” Sightseers out of our structures in times of crisis. Butter, milk and potatoes for laborers !”
It wasn’t just the urban proletariat requiring better accommodation. At Sweden’s first ever national convention of human rights and indigenous Sami peoples held in Ostersund in early 1918, delegates necessitated an purpose to discriminatory policies that forced them to live in tents.
Social inequality in the city intend the Spanish flu hit all the harder.
As the epidemic raged in late August, when around 20 people were dying daily, the city’s bank director Carl Lignell withdrew monies from Stockholm without authorisation and requisitioned local schools for apply as a hospital( the city didn’t have one ).
Read more: https :// www.theguardian.com/ cities/ 2018/ aug/ 29/ how-spanish-influenza-helped-create-sweden-modern-welfare-state-ostersund