Between Denmark and Detroit: Ford in Copenhagen

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

Women in politics and photography

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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Class

The latest issue of the journal Arbejderhistorie (Labour history) is about class. Several articles deal with class as a theoretical and analytical concept.  Others are examples of the use of class in describing and explaining historical and present social phenomena.  A complete list of contributions can be found here. I have written the article “Den … Read more