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Last Updated: Saturday, 26 July, 2003, 14:31 GMT 15:31 UK
World War II message washes up

A bottle containing a message from a refugee fleeing the Nazis during World War II has been found on a remote Swedish beach.

The note, dated to 1943 and scrawled on now yellowed paper, was written in English and asked if the war was over.

It was signed by a woman called Maja Westerman from the then Nazi-occupied Baltic state of Estonia, who had fled to Gotska Sandoen, a Swedish island 150 kilometres (92 miles) from where the bottle was found.

Thorsten Schwarz, the Swiss tourist who found the bottle, said he hoped to trace the refugee through the internet.

Swedish newspaper Soedermanlands Nyheter has published a translation of the note, which reads as follows:

"Dear friend, we live on an island. We came here a year ago... the lighthouse keeper's family is very kind... is the war finished... we wait for peace and friendship."

Numerous refugees from the Baltic states escaped Nazi and Soviet occupation during the war by heading to Sweden.

And as many as 2,000 of them were granted asylum on Gotska Sandoen, about 100 km off the Swedish coast.

The bottle was discovered in a hard to reach area outside Oxeloesund, a town 90 km south-west of the capital, Stockholm.

The bottle had to be broken to retrieve the note, but Mr Schwarz obviously thought the sacrifice was worth it.

"It is very moving. Just imagine if Maja Westerman is still alive today and it would be possible to find her," he told The Associated Press.

Having now returned to his home in Switzerland Mr Schwarz says he will start his search for the note's author on the internet.





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