Lecture 9: Scandinavia between the wars: crisis and recovery

A. Economic and political instability in the 1920s and early '30s

1. Economic

2. Political

B. Crisis agreements in the 1930s

C. Economic recovery

  1. Continued industrialisation
  2. Fluctuations of international economy
  3. Demand: (a) foreign (b) domestic
  4. Government policy

D. International challenges

  1. Rise of Nazi Germany
  2. Weakness of Britain and France
  3. Anglo-German trade rivalry
  4. Failure of (limited) efforts at Scandinavian cooperation.
  5. Scandinavian states return to strict neutrality
  6. Åland question 1938-9
  7. Soviet security concerns: Finland.


Bankers: Nicolai Rygg (N), C.V. Bramsnæs (D), Ivar Rooth (S), Risto Ryti (F)

Economists: Bertil Ohlin, Knut Wicksell, Gunnar Myrdal (S), Ragnar Frisch (N) J.M. Keynes (GB)

Politicians: Per Albin Hansson, Ernst Wigforss (S), Johan Nygaardsvold, Halvdan Koht, Ole Colbjørnson (N), Thorvald Stauning, Peter Munch (D)

Scandinavia between the wars: key dates

D Denmark F Finland I Iceland N Norway S Sweden

1917F: independence declared
1918F: civil war

I: independence under Danish crown

1919-23N: Labour Party affiliated to Communist International
1919-32F: prohibition
1920S: first Social Democratic (minority) government (Branting)

D: 'Easter Crisis'; general strike

D: plebiscite brings return of South Jutland

N: sovereignty over Svalbard (Spitsbergen) archipelago

1921-7N: prohibition
1922D: collapse of Landmansbank
1924D: first Social Democratic (minority) government (Stauning)

S: return to gold standard

1925F: return to gold standard
1926F: first Social Democratic (minority) government (Tanner)
1927D: return to gold standard
1928N: first Labour (minority) government (lasted 8 days) (Hornsrud)

N: return to gold standard

1929F: beginning of Lapua movement

D: Social Democratic/Radical Liberal coalition government (Stauning)

1930D: formation of Danish National Socialist Party (DNSAP) (led from 1933 by Fritz Clausen)
1931-3N: Agrarian Party government; Vidkun Quisling Minister of War
1931-2 N/D: dispute over East Greenland (Hague Court rules in favour of D)
1931N: Quisling establishes Nordisk folkereisning

N: Menstad incident: use of state police against strikers at Norsk Hydro plant

S: Ådalen incident - 5 strikers killed by troops

D: formation of Landbrugernes Sammenslutning (right-wing farmers' organisation)

1932F: attempted Lapua coup at Mäntsälä. Suppression of Lapua movement

S: suicide of Ivar Kreuger, the 'match king'

S: formation of Social Democratic government (Hansson)

1933D: 'Kanslergade Agreement' (crisis agreement between govt and Liberals)

N: Quisling establishes Nasjonal Samling

F: formation of Patriotic Popular Movement (IKL)

S: 'Crisis agreement' between Social Democrats and Agrarians

1935N: formation of Labour govt (with Agrarian support) (Nygaardsvold)

N: 'Main Agreement' between trade unions and employers

1936S: Social Democratic/Agrarian coalition (Hansson)
1937F: formation of Social Democratic/Liberal/Agrarian coalition (Cajander)
1938S: 'Saltsjöbaden Agreement' between trade unions and employers

F: suppression of IKL