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Needed: A Prince of Peace

In the depths of World War II, Swedish authorities decided their citizens needed to know what to do if the fighting finally arrived on their doorstep. Though they maintained neutrality, it was hard to believe they could continue to do so—especially as their Nordic neighbors got caught in the tides of violence. So, they decided on a handy pamphlet, delivered to households across Sweden. Roughly translated to "If War Comes," the pamphlets offered tips for how to interpret sirens and what to take along in the case of evacuation.

The pamphlets didn't end with the war. For more than four decades, Sweden distributed these little bits of instruction on catastrophe—until the end of the Cold War seemed to diminish their usefulness and they were discontinued. Now, Sweden is bringing them back.

The Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency is organizing a reboot of the pamphlet, this time augmenting its advice on conventional warfare with tips on how to grapple with threats of this era: terrorism and cyberattacks, pandemics, misinformation campaigns, and crises related to climate change.

The agency expects to deliver these pamphlets to 4.7 million Swedish households. A spokesman for the agency said, “Back then the focus was only on war; today society looks totally different. There are considerably more complex threats. People need to learn more and know more about how to handle … their own and their nearest relatives’ fundamental needs for a while.”

Source:

Colin Dwyer, “Unsettled By Russia, Sweden Revives Pamphlets On What To Do 'If War Comes,’” NPR (1-22-18)

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