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“Striden ägde rum i Malmö”: Möllevångskravallerna 1926. En studie av politiskt våld i mellankrigstidens Sverige.

  • Stefan Nyzell
Publiceringsår: 2009
Språk: Engelska
Publikation/Tidskrift/Serie: Skrifter med historiska perspektiv
Volym: Volym 10
Dokumenttyp: Doktorsavhandling
Förlag: B3 Bokproduktion


During a few days at the end of November 1926, the Möllevången neighborhood in Malmö was the scene of violent confrontations between thousands of demonstrators and a large part of the city police force. Behind these demonstrations lay an industrial conflict, begun early in July that year at A. W. Nilsson factory. The workers went on strike, and a week or so later the factory owner employed a local recruiter of strike-breakers. From the very first, trouble arose whenever there was an encounter between the strike-breakers and the striking workers. Day and night, the workers had pickets standing outside the factory and from the very beginning there were almost daily demonstrations outside the factory, attracting nearly two hundred participants. Whenever the strike-breakers moved outside the protecting walls of the factory, they were harassed in a menacing way. More than once, the police had to interfere, because the situation had become even more menacing and outspokenly violent. On the night between the 10 and the 11 November something took place which would worsen the tense situation outside the factory. In the street, a strike-breaker and a striking worker were having an argument, which led to the former giving the latter a blow to the head. Just over a week later he died of complications caused by the blow. Within the Social Democratic movement in Malmö no one doubted that the blow to the head and the ensuing death were directly connected. As soon as the news of the death of the striking worker was published in the newspapers, there were several thousands participants in the demonstrations outside the A. W. Nilsson factory. When the police after a few days, ordered to restore order, started trying to force the increasing numbers of demonstrators to leave the vicinity, these resisted, thus causing several days of violent confrontation in the Möllevången area.

The strike at A. W. Nilsson factory was not the only conflict in Malmö at this time where the employer used strike-breakers, the encounters between these and the striking workers causing violent demonstrations. Nor did such confrontations occur only in Malmö during the interwar period. The purpose of this thesis is to study the boundaries of collective violence within politics in inter-war Sweden. Five questions are asked: Where did the local social democratic movement draw the boundaries of collective violence within politics during the industrial conflict at the A. W. Nilsson factories in Malmö? How was collective violence used during the conflict? How did representatives from the social democratic movement discuss this use of collective violence? How was this collective violence being discussed in the public debate that took place in the newspaper press? In what way has this collective violence used during the industrial conflict come to be seen in the writing of history?

What happened in Malmö in 1926-1928 may be considered to be part of a protracted period of escalating labor disputes between the employed and the employer on the Swedish labor-market, lasting between 1925 and 1932. A similar period can furthermore be said to have occurred between 1908 and 1917. This violence, however, has only seldom been emphasized in Swedish research. On the contrary, the research on working-class history in particular, has stressed the absence of violence. It is true that large-scale collective violence occurred but rarely, even though the events described above, occurring during the period of escalating conflicts in the late 1920s and early 1930s, may be considered to be events where more large scale violence was used. Still, violence occurs in Sweden as well. True, it is arguably mostly small-scale, but till obviously collective in its character, like the more or less daily confrontations between the strike-breakers and the striking workers taking place outside the A .W. Nilsson factory in Malmö. This violence is collective as well, the workers and the strike-breakers being more or less equally responsible for the acts of violence. The workers used to harass the strike-breakers, a form of collective violence in connection with industrial disputes, more or less tolerated by the union as well as by the political leadership within the Social Democratic labor movement. It is acts of violence, which, though they occurred openly in those days, have been more or less forgotten in Swedish research on industrial action. In latter years this has been explained by the fact that this research remarkably often has been focused on explaining ”the Swedish Model” with its spirit of mutual understanding and willingness to compromise, as well as by its historical roots, thus giving Swedish historical research a teleological tendency, conflicts having been played down, while putting stress on and emphasizing mutual understanding.


Historiska studier, Malmö högskola, Lärarutbildningen Nordensköldsgatan 10, sal D 138
  • Mary Hilson (Senior lecturer)


  • History
  • Contentious politics
  • Contention
  • Confrontation
  • Political conflict
  • Strike
  • Strike-breaking
  • Theleological history
  • Malmö
  • Collective violence


  • ISSN: 1652-2761
  • ISBN: 13:978-91-7104-052-7

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