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Guide to surviving revolution and war: the life of Theodor Abrahamsen

My father’s family survived – barely — both the Russian Revolution and the Nazi occupation of Norway. This included potential execution, a Nazi concentration camp, lack of food, brutal winters, and the constant threat of disease. As Russian tanks stream into the Ukraine, the crazy-quilt pattern of history repeats. Politics aside, until recent decades epidemics of smallpox, H1N1 (including the Spanish flu of 1918), diphtheria, typhus, cholera, malaria and the like left a trail of devastation wherever they went. Improved personal hygiene and public health measures like sanitation, vaccines and antibiotics are also recent phenomena. Case in point: Theodor Abrahamsen, my Uncle Teddy. Even after his hundredth birthday, he lived alone, doing his daily exercises and solving the Rubik’s Cube. He took regular boat trips to the northern tip of Norway and returned once a year to his old school in England. A multi-sport varsity athlete in his youth, he

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