A Substitute War

A short story about war memorabilia at Hallwyl House.

The Countess (1895) by Julius KronbergHallwyl Museum

Wilhelmina von Hallwyl took great interest and pride in her catalogue. She had decided that all objects within Hallwyl House should be recorded for posterity and that a catalogue should be written and printed.

The Catalogue People (1907) by Gustaf SjöbergHallwyl Museum

The various artefacts in the house were divided into groups, depending on the context. She employed men and women who had graduated from the university and mostly put her servants to work as well. It was a daunting task that lay before them. It took nearly sixty years to complete.

The Allied Forces (1916) by Raoul Dufy, Bianchini Férier, and CharvetHallwyl Museum

Group XXX contains memorabilia from the First World War. In the preface she declared that “This group, that only encompasses 23 numbers, might serve as a sort of illustration, however pale and inadequate, of some of the abominations the Great War 1914-1919 resulted in.”

Substitute Soap (1917) by unknownHallwyl Museum

The group, to be fair, is dominated by memories of shortage of luxury, not witnesses of unspeakable suffering at the front.

Watch-chain (1916) by Klein & Quenzer and Hermann HoseusHallwyl Museum

Sweden was not one of the belligerents in the Great War. Swedes consequently had great freedom to travel in Europe during the war, compared to other nationalities, and they had the advantage of an undamaged industry.

A Bag for Gold (1914/1916) by Sveriges Rikes Ständers BankHallwyl Museum

Swedish factories benefited to some extent from the war and the Swedish currency was strong after the war.

Swedish Sugar Substitute (1916) by Farmaceutiska och Kemiska FabrikenHallwyl Museum

Still, there was a shortage of supply in luxury goods.

A Burgher (1917) by B. MayerHallwyl Museum

The government also took the precaution of filling the storage on a national level that increased the shortage on an individual level. The situation resulted in “jobbery”, profiteering, sharp practices, black trade and smuggling.

Red Cross Medal (1917/1921) by Deutsches Rotes KreuzHallwyl Museum

But the objects in group XXX are gifts or purchases from German sources. The situation for Countess von Hallwyl was not dangerously affected by the war. She, nevertheless, donated money to the German war effort and bought handicraft from invalids.

An Envelope (1917) by unknownHallwyl Museum

The collection of memorabilia is truly a “pale and inadequate” illustration of the war, albeit some of the handicraft might be viewed as some of “the abominations the Great War 1914-1919 resulted in”.

Credits: Story

Text: G. Sandell, Swedish History Museums

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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