Sweden’s history provides insight into how it has quietly established itself as one of the most gender equal countries in the world, while the United States continues to loudly squabble over legislation guaranteeing equal legal rights regardless of gender.

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“The prisoners could be forgiven for looking with fear upon the buses that arrived at the concentration camps in the spring of 1945. Transports had brought them to places like Ravensbrück, Auschwitz, Bergen-Belsen, Dachau. Transports had taken their loved ones to horrific deaths. Despite the rumors of rescue, it seemed more likely to be a cruel Nazi ploy.”

Read more in “When Sweden Rescued 31,000 Non-Swedes From Nazi Germany

Tucked away in the church cemetery of a southern Swedish village is the gravestone of a civil servant who died in 1902. It would go unnoticed as the average grave of an ordinary man were it not for one remarkable feature: the shining silver medal embedded and encased in glass within the gravestone. All but forgotten and facing the scrap heap, the gravestone symbolizes the overlooked beauty and value of everyday history.

A true visionary doesn’t claim to be a visionary. A genuine leader doesn’t require an authoritative title. Margrete Valdemarsdatter of Denmark asserted neither prerogative, and yet her vision for a unified Scandinavia and her ability to realize and effectively lead that union make her one of history’s most important rulers.

In spring 1945, Sweden did something incredible. It voluntarily sent an expedition into Nazi Germany to rescue prisoners from concentration camps and bring them to Sweden. Not a single Swede was among the 31,000 individuals they rescued. This is the story of the White Buses.