Live working – the real story about the “underclass”

Okay, so now we are tired of Karina Pedersen (Danish author of a much discussed book about life in the “underclass”) and her liberal friends and their anti-social and anti-historical moralistic musings about the so called underclass. Regarding history: allow me to recommend Paul Masons book Live working or die fighting – how the working … Read more

Gender or Class?

Kvindelige tekstilarbejdere

Today it is 8 March, the international day for women’s liberation. This day was inaugurated at the international socialist women’s congress, which took place in Copenhagen in 1910. On the occasion of the day I have translated a text about the time, when female workers started organising – and the reactions they were met by, … Read more

Between Denmark and Detroit: Ford in Copenhagen

In 1919 Ford Motor Company established an assembly plant in Copenhagen, Denmark. It was the second of its kind in Europe, after the one established in Manchester. From Copenhagen most of Northern Europe was supplied with the famous Ford T – the world’s first mass produced car.

It was such a success, that a larger facility was needed, an in 1924 a new, modern factory was build in the Copenhagen South Port area. The factory was designed by Albert Kahn, the architect responsible for some of Fords most iconic industrial complexes in Detroit. Inside, the production technology also closely resembled that used in Detroit.

But when it came to industrial relations, there were profound differences. In Detroit, Ford was fighting hard against any attempts by his worker to organize in trade unions, and not before 1941 an agreement was finally made with the United Auto Workers. However, in Denmark the workers were all unionized from day one, and collective bargaining was a matter of course.

Ford assembly plant in Copenhagen South Habour. Photo from Thalbitzer: “Ford Motor Company A/S gennem 25 Aar”, 1944. Unknown photographer.

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Women in politics and photography

Tudor-Hart frontpage

On a recent trip to Berlin I happened to buy a couple of photo books. One was about Tina Modotti (1896-1942), whom I already knew vaguely, another about Edith Tudor-Hart (1908-1973) whom I frankly had never heard about before. The book was still wrapped in cellophane, so I could not take a look inside, but I decided to buy it based on the text on the back-cover alone.

Accidentally, Modotti and Tudor-Hart seem to have had a lot in common. They were both women, obviously, and not very far apart in age.  They both lived most of their lives in exile or as immigrants. And they were both very much involved in the political struggles of their time, as communists and antifascists.

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Light in the night

On the night of November 9, 1938, the Nazis attacked Jewish homes, shops and synagogues all over Germany, effectively initiating the holocaust. This horrible night has since become known as the Kristallnacht – or Crystal night – because of all the shattered glass in the streets.

The Kristallnacht is commemorated every year in central Copenhagen, as a manifestation for human rights, against racism and fascism.

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Detroit – still alive

Community gathering

Now the sweet bells of mercy
Drift through the evening trees
Young men on the corner
Like scattered leaves
The boarded up windows
The empty streets
While my brother’s down on his knees
My city of ruins
My city of ruins
Come on rise up! Come on rise up!

Bruce Springsteen

With publications such as “Ruins of Detroit” og “Detroit Disassembled”, the Motor City has become quite en vogue lately photographically. Admittedly, the ruins from the city’s grand industrial past are spectacular.  Especially when you, as the authors of the above mentioned books, have had – or simply taken – the opportunity to climb in behind the plywood barriers and barbed wire, to take a look inside.

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A world history of textile work

People have spun yarn and woven fabrics through thousands of years. It was a production which was predominantly carried out as homework or crafts. During the 1700s, though, a revolutionary process was started in England: work became concentrated in large units, equipped with machines powered at first by water wheels and later by steam engines. The industrial form of production spread from England to the European mainland and from there eventually to the rest of the world.

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