A Tribute to the Swedish American Line
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Rune Dahlstrand
Barber on the Gripsholm During WWII

Page 2

These pictures have been contributed by Rune Dahlstrand.
Many thanks to Mr. Dahlstrand for sharing these unique memories.

After the two long voyages to exchange internees with Japan, Gripsholm sailed to Europe for several exchanges with the Germans. On one rare occasion at sea, Rune Dahlstrand observed a German submarine officer on deck, intensely watching an allied convoy in the far distance. Mr Dahlstrand wondered what was going through the German's mind at that moment.

As the Gripsholm was granted free passage by both sides, the ship was not allowed to sail close to a convoy.

General O'Caroll and
Panzargeneral Cramer in Barcelona.

In May 1944, the Gripsholm left New York for Algiers and Barcelona.

In Barcelona, there was to be an exchange of a total of 886 persons, among them two high ranking British and German officers, O'Caroll and Cramer. Panzargeneral Hans Cramer was the last commander of Rommel's Africa Corps, captured a year earlier. At an early stage, the German officer refused to cooperate, because there was no officer of sufficent rank to greet him. For this reason, a British officer of lower rank was temporarily upgraded to play the part of a general. After the exchange in Barcelona on May 19, 1944, the Gripsholm sailed to Belfast via Algiers carryng General O'Caroll and 790 allied military personell.

The exchange in Barcelona was photographed and filmed by the Germans. Flowers were given to soldiers on stretchers. As soon as the stretcher was carried away, the flowers were removed and placed on the next soldier in front of the cameras.

After the war, in 1946, Gripsholm sailed from the USA to Europe, carrying several hundred deportees from American prisons to Naples and Greece, among them Frank Costello and Lucky Luciano. These passengers carried plenty of cash, and organized gambling on board, resulting in knife fights after accusations of cheating. At first they walked all over the ship, but the captain identified a leader and told him they had to stay in third class, which they did for the remaining voyage.

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