1905: Swedish workers threaten general strike against war with Norway

Police guard trams during the 1909 Swedish general strike

In 1905 the Union between Sweden and Norway unravelled. In response the Swedish right pushed war while the Swedish workers threatened a general strike to cripple the war effort.

Swedish workers protest, threaten general strike and mutiny to prevent war against Norway, 1905

Goals:

To seek solidarity between labor movements in Sweden and Norway and to maintain peace between the two states during the dissolution of their union.

Since 4 November 1814, the United Kingdoms of Sweden and Norway shared the Swedish monarch, with increasing tension regarding Norway's sovereignty.

In February 1905, Sweden's Social Democratic Party, a party of the Swedish working class, held a meeting to discuss the union's dissolution and invited the Norwegian Labour Party to speak at the meeting. The Norwegian Labour Party called for the end of the union and for increased collaboration between workers in Sweden and Norway. The Social Democrats released a statement to support Norway's independence without a violent war.

This also sparked action within the younger working class. Zeth Höglund of the Young Social Democrats wrote Down Weapons!, a manifesto for the Swedish working class. The labor movement printed the manifesto in newspapers and printed 100,000 leaflets to hand out to supporters. In the manifesto, Höglund declared that the working class would not go to war against Norway and called on the young workers to protest their military duty.

The manifesto also threatened that the Swedish laboring class would refuse to work in order to prevent war with Norway. The state took this threat of a general strike seriously, as Sweden had recently seen a growth of the labor movement and the enactment of strikes to support political causes, such as a general strike for suffrage in 1902.

On 7 June 1905, the Norwegian Storting declared a resolution to dissolve the union between Sweden and Norway. Right-wing supporters of Sweden called for war against Norway while the labor parties continued to push for peace. The Social Democrats conducted demonstrations opposing violent action by their government and wrote a letter of support to the Norwegian Labour Party.

On 20 June, 1905, King Oscar II of Sweden declared that the nation would not use force against Norway, stopping the threat of war.

Sources:

Clyne, Jonathan, Kerstin Alfredsson and Lena Höijer. "Norway-Sweden 1905: How the labour movement prevented war." http://www.marxists.org/history/international/social-democracy/sweden/war-1905.htm.
"Sweden vs. Norway in 1905." https://sites.google.com/a/karlmarx.net/open/war-resistance/swedenvsnorwayin1905.

Name of researcher, and date dd/mm/yyyy:

Fatimah Hameed, 22/02/2013

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Comments

wojtek
Jun 20 2017 16:59
syndicalist
Jun 20 2017 17:27

very interesting and informative