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Astrid Lindgren

Best known for several series of children's books. In the 1930-40s worked as a secretary for the criminalist Harry Söderman.

Astrid Lindgren

Best known for several series of children's books. In the 1930-40s worked as a secretary for the criminalist Harry Söderman.

17:00

The Russians marched into Poland today as well, ‘to safeguard the interests of the Russian minority’. Poland’s now as far down on its knees as it can get, so they must be thinking of sending a negotiator to Germany.

There’s still not much action on the western front, but according to today’s paper Hitler’s planning a huge air offensive against Britain. We hear of very worrying developments at sea: countless ships torpedoed or blown up by mines. Supply routes to Germany must be more or less cut off, I think.

They say the French put up placards on the western front: ‘We won’t shoot.’ And that the Germans replied on their placards: ‘Nor will we!’ But it can’t be true.

From tomorrow, all heavy goods vehicles will be subject to restrictions, as well.

Chamberlain delivered a radio address to the German people – who aren’t allowed to listen.

There’s still nothing happening on the western front. But it seems clear that Germany is giving Poland a good thrashing.

I bought shoes for myself and the kids, before the prices go up: two pairs for Karin at 12.50 kronor a pair, one pair for Lasse at 19.50 and one pair for me at 22.50.

The bus service in Stockholm is to be restricted from tomorrow. Our streets already look deserted, now that use of private cars has been banned.

Today I assembled my little stockpile in a corner of the kitchen, ready for storage in the attic. It comprises: 2kg sugar, 1kg sugar lumps, 3kg rice, 1kg potato flour, 11/2kg coffee in various tins, 2kg household cleaning soap, 2 boxes Persil, 3 bars toilet soap, 5 packets cocoa, 4 packets tea and a few spices. I shall gradually try to collect up a bit more, because prices are bound to rise soon. Karin called for a drink of water after I put her to bed last night. ‘At least we don’t have to worry about saving water.’ She thought we’d be able to live on water and jam if we had a war.

A big British passenger steamer with 1,400 people on board has been torpedoed by the Germans, who deny having done it and claim the ship must have run into a mine. But the British wouldn’t have laid mines off the north-west coast of Scotland. I believe all the surviving passengers were rescued (60 died, no, more, 128?), some of them by Wenner-Gren on the Southern Cross, out on a pleasure trip with his tanks full of the oil he’s been hoarding. He’s been scolded roundly in the press for his crazy stockpiling. See more

15:20

The various governments are already jawing about who’s to blame. Germany claims that Poland attacked first and that the Poles could do whatever they wanted under the protection of the Anglo-French guarantee. Here in Sweden we can’t see it any other way than that Hitler wants war, or that he can’t see any means to avoid it without losing face. It’s pretty clear that Chamberlain did his utmost to keep the peace; he gave way in Munich for no other reason. This time, Hitler demanded ‘Danzig and the Corridor’ but deep down he probably wants to rule the whole world. What line should Italy and Russia take? Polish sources say the first two days of war cost 1,500 lives in Poland.

15:00

The sun is shining, it’s a nice warm day, this earth could be a lovely place to live. At 11 a.m. today Britain declared war on Germany, as did France, but I don’t know exactly what time. Germany had received an ultimatum from Britain demanding an undertaking by 11 o’clock to withdraw its troops from Poland and enter into talks, in which case the invasion of Poland would be deemed never to have happened. But no undertaking had been received by 11 o’clock and Chamberlain said in his speech to the British nation on this Sunday afternoon: ‘consequently this country is at war with Germany’.

18:00

When I went to my coffee merchant to buy a fully legitimate quarter-kilo of coffee, I found a notice on the door: ‘Closed. Sold out for today.’

It’s Children’s Day today, and dear me, what a day for it! I took Karin up to the park this afternoon and that was when I saw the official notice that all men born in 1898 [Sture’s year of birth] would be called up. I tried to read the newspaper while Karin went on the slide but I couldn’t, I just sat there with tears rising in my throat.

People look pretty much as usual, only a bit more gloomy. Everybody talks about the war all the time, even people who don’t know each other.

14:15

A sad, sad day! I read the war announcements and felt sure Sture would be called up but he turned out not to be, in the end. Countless others have got to leave home and report for duty, though. We’re in a state of ‘intensified war readiness’. The amount of stockpiling is unbelievable, according to the papers. People are mainly buying coffee, toilet soap, household cleaning soap and spices. There’s apparently enough sugar in the country to last us 15 months, but if nobody can resist stocking up we’ll have a shortage anyway. At the grocer’s there wasn’t a single kilo of sugar to be had (but they’re expecting more in, of course).

15:00

Oh! War broke out today. Nobody could believe it.

Yesterday afternoon, Elsa Gullander and I were in Vasa Park with the children running and playing around us and we sat there giving Hitler a nice, cosy telling-off and agreed that there definitely was not going to be a war – and now today! The Germans bombarded several Polish cities early this morning and are forging their way into Poland from all directions. I’ve managed to restrain myself from any hoarding until now, but today I laid in a little cocoa, a little tea, a small amount of soap and a few other things.

A terrible despondency weighs on everything and everyone. The radio churns out news reports all day long. Lots of our men are being called up. There’s a ban on private motoring, too. God help our poor planet in the grip of this madness!