Karin Hartman was a lieutenant-colonel in the Frälsningsarmé (Salvation Army) and chief editor of Stridsropet. She was also a poet and a translator.
Karin Hartman was born in Åmål in 1913. She grew up within the Salvation Army and was the second eldest of five children born to Salvation Army officers Anna and Carl Hartman. The family moved a lot, as officers at that time rarely stayed for more than a year or two within the same corps. Karin Hartman gained her school-leaving certificate from Kungsholms school for girls in Stockholm and then studied at the Salvation Army international officer school in London. In 1950 she gained her Bachelor’s degree in English and literature.
Her 1984 autobiography, entitled Nära Elden, reveals how Karin Hartman was somewhat of an itinerant when it came to jobs. She took on a long series of challenging posts, both within and outside the Salvation Army. Further to her work as an officer for various corps, she often served as a secretary for the Salvation Army’s social organisations for women, chief editor of the Stridsropet magazine, and as a teacher at the Birkagård and Söräng highschools. She also, having served as educational secretary at the officers’ school in Stockholm, became the first headmistress of the Salvation Army highschool at Dalarö (today Ågesta). Further, she worked as a youth secretary in the Swedish church, for Stockholm diocese, and as editorial secretary for Svenska Journalen. In 1943 she taught at the first summer school for the Roma in Sweden.
Karin Hartman was also active as a poet and a translator. She made her literary debut in 1943 with En dörr på glänt and subsequently published a number of poetry collections. In 2002 she published a book called Bottenglädjen on Majken Johanson, the poet who was also her life companion. Karin Hartman also undertook to write and translate hymns and songs, both within the Salvation Army and in a wider ecumenical context. She also translated Christian literature from English into Swedish.
In Nära elden Karin Hartman recounted falling in love with ‘R’, a young author who was subsequently diagnosed with schizophrenia, and says: “I still hold onto the fact that this love, despite the tragedy, enriched my life”. Perhaps something similar could be said about the long romance and friendship between Karin Hartman and Majken Johansson. Although they could never be open about their relationship, given the Salvation Army’s negative attitude toward homosexuality, Karin Hartman’s surviving notes do, however, describe both their happiness and their tribulations.
Karin Hartman served as an officer in both Britain and Sweden and over the course of the years she was promoted lieutenant-colonel. In 2001 she was awarded Grundläggarens orden (order of the founder), which is the Salvation Army’s highest merit of honour. She died in Stockholm in 2007 and is buried at the Norra cemetery in Solna.