Shop our historical maps

"The Skåne problem"

Harrowing of fields in Skåne
1940s: Harrowing of fields, with horses in Törringe parish, Skåne. Törringe church in the background. Photo: Carl Gustaf Rosenberg / Swedish National Heritage Board

"The Skåne Problem" was published by Credos Förlag, Stockholm in 1923 and was part of the collection "The 333 Year Book of the Skåne Region" published by the Skåne Future Foundation.

READER ADVISORY

The present problem book is written only for real Skåneans, i.e. for those Skåneans, who feel their affinity with Skåne and love their country and its memories not only with empty words but in spirit and power. Only these can have any personal interest in the following complex of reflections. Only for them can the Skåne problem become a matter of the heart. They are the only ones who can understand the language in which this little book is written. For all others it can offer no more than an alien problem, which at best arouses a soon passing interest in curiosity.

Thus, by these opening words of warning, The Scanian Problem has already become a forbidden book for the vast majority. And yet our little publication finds itself obliged to restrict still further the increasingly sparse ranks of its desirable readers. Despite its own modesty, it makes less common demands on its Skåne-minded readers. For it is exclusively to seriously reflective people that this presentation is addressed. It should be borne in mind that from beginning to end it deals with a significant problem which unquestionably requires reflection. It cannot, therefore, be read with profit by the kind of hurried modern man who never has time to enter into even the simplest problem, and who merely lives and thinks for the day without sacrificing a minute to some unnecessary why. Nor is it suitable reading for such natures as are slow and comfortable in thought, and instinctively shun the effort which it costs to wrestle with problems on their own. For it has no other purpose than to stimulate independent reflection, and scarcely allows the reader a single thoughtful moment of mere passive reception.

But above all, an emphatic warning must be sounded against this book, which has something to say only to the thinking few, for those readers who lack the ability to think their way calmly and objectively into a new problem, but instead, even before they have had time to assimilate the foreign complex of thought, take sides and let an agitated rush of emotions impede the demanding investigations of clear and critical reasoning. Let them caress their favourite opinions, read and listen to familiar words, which perfectly suit their preconceived notions. Serious problem-solving is a most unsuitable occupation for them.

But if the number of understanding readers must necessarily be severely limited, the book's thought content is bestowed upon them with all the more personal warmth, with sincere gratitude for their willingness to stay and listen. To each of them this book would like to speak at length. For they must know that these insignificant pages - a few leaves in the great forest of the contemporary book world - could not be finished until after years of serious thought. A small measure of grain of truth sums up here the result of years of cultivation in the service of Skåne. And yet these short chapters do not contain much news. The facts which are included here have been told a thousand times before. It is only in the logical juxtaposition of their ideas that these chapters have any force. Perhaps there is no one in the present generation of Scanians who wants to understand and master this presentation. Even if so, however, the author does not want to consider his work vain. He is satisfied and happy, if he, as a simple problem-setter, has participated in the unthinkable preparations for Skåne's future rise from the state of self-abasement. What the present has not understood, the future will receive. The truths which form the basis of the argumentation of The Scanian Problem are, in spite of their simplicity, too weighty and universal to be subject to the changing fashions of the world of ideas. If they are neglected or ridiculed to-day, they will triumph to-morrow. For the facts here stated are undeniable historical truths, and the reflections which they provoke are, as far as possible, logically chastened.

In order to be let in on the secret of the book without delay, we would now like to ask: Much has already been said here about the Scanian problem. But what is this difficult Skåne problem? What is this newly constructed difficulty? The Scanian problem is not a new invention. It has long been known. We need only hear the formulation of the problem to be convinced of this. The problem of Skåne consists primarily in the difficulty of determining, in theory and in practice, the position that Skåne is called upon to occupy by virtue of its history and culture. Since time immemorial, Skåne has been part of Denmark, and it still retains significant vestiges of Danish character and culture. At the same time, however, Skåne has for some time now also been a Swedish region, as closely linked to Sweden as it was to Denmark. Skåne used to be entirely Danish. - Skåne now entirely Swedish. In these lines, the entire content of this publication is offered in concentrated form. Here we find a deep-rooted internal contradiction rooted in the history of Skåne - the Skåne problem. And the question now is how this problem can be solved, if any solution at all is possible.

As you know, there are also other Swedish provinces with a similar history to Skåne. This is especially true of Skåne's closest brotherland, Halland. However, it would be going too far to deal with their position as well. In all problem solving, the strictest concentration is required in the first place. We therefore confine ourselves here exclusively to the great Skåne question and touch on the national problems of other countries only when we can thereby shed more light on Skåne's.

Resolutely to work! First, in a few chapters, we will elucidate in more detail the internal contradiction which is at the root of the Scanian problem. Then we shall see if there is a satisfactory solution of it, a solution truly worthy of the name, which solves the hard knot of thought and does not merely tie it up in a different way than before. Serious thought always produces valuable results, a reward worth the effort.

The Danish period

There is hardly anyone who has seriously dared to deny that Skåne was once an integral part of Denmark. On every page our older history bears the strongest testimony to this connection. Nowadays, however, it is difficult to get a true idea of how deep and alive this ancient union has been. It is possible to argue about the larger whole to which Blekinge originally belonged. It is undisputed that Skåne has been one of the main parts of Denmark since ancient times. Skåne was already part of the Danish kingdom when it first began to be spoken of. Soon it will be about 1000 years since the Scanians (according to the old tradition) received the honourable task of building up the western part of Dannevirke. Skåne men took part in the Danish Viking raids to England. Canute the Great, "the mightiest prince of the North", gave us our first bishop in agreement with the Roman See. Another of the great figures of medieval Denmark, Svend Estridsøn, further ordered the ecclesiastical relations in the country, when Egino, the apostle of Skåne, received the office of chief shepherd for the whole province. The man who founded Lund Cathedral is Knut the Holy, Denmark's patron saint, and in the shadow of this building, Skåne's cultural heyday as the centre of Nordic church life soon budded and flourished. On the archbishop's chair in Skåne we also see the most monumental figures in unbroken succession: Asser - Eskil - Absalon - Anders Sunes n. Then the battles between crook and crown, rich in exciting action, break out; we witness the capture of Jacob Erland, the night ride of Jens Grands to Helsingborg. Skåne, the land of the Danish archbishop, naturally acquired the greatest spiritual and cultural importance. We hear Denmark's great innovator Valdemar Atterdag on his deathbed exclaim: "Help me Esrom, help me Soer og du store Klokke i Lund". Last in the illustrious line of Lund archbishops is Birger Gunnarsen, the church prince and cultural promoter. His death was soon followed by the fierce battles between the old and new Christian faiths in Denmark, in which Skåne also played a prominent role. But the greatest and proudest time of the Scanian country was irrevocably past, when the Archbishop of Lund gave way to a mean superintendent and the memorable churches and monasteries of the Rome of the North were demolished by impious hands, in order to conveniently obtain stone for the castle buildings in Malmö and Copenhagen. A first chapter in the history of Skåne's defiance of tradition, soon to be followed by others! The fierce battle of the Count's Feud also affected Skåne in a tangible way. But right up to the beginning of the seventeenth century, a new period of prosperity followed for the vibrant Skåne culture. Then our world-famous Tyge Brahe lived, then our most art-historically significant castles were built.

We still have the most priceless treasures from this Danish era. The Necrologium Lundense and the Chronicle of Saxony, the Skaan Law (from the beginning of the 13th century) and Anders Sunesøn's Hexaemeron, Lund Cathedral, St. Peter's in Malmö, the Church of Our Lady in Helsingborg, the old Ystad architecture of Urskånska, the most remarkable of the old stepped gable churches in our countryside, which are still our pride and joy. It was this period to which we owe Glimmingehus and Kärnan, Bollerup and Borreby, Torup and Vidtsköfle, Svenstorp and Rosendal. From this time we have inherited the original Skåne baptismal fonts, the Ignaberg master's works of art, the altar cabinets in Lund and Ystad. From this time our old folk songs have their origin, these unparalleled expressions of old Skåne mentality, which are virtually unknown in today's Skåne. During this time the Cathedral School in Lund was founded, the centre of Skåne's spiritual cultivation. During this time the foundations of our agriculture and trade were laid, and our material culture found its natural centre in Malmö. The following period has also produced great cultural values in Skåne, but hardly many that can be placed alongside the impressive cultural heritage of our older times.

In addition, during these centuries Skåne was tied more and more closely to the motherland by the most sacred of all ties - that of blood and sacrifice. How many raids Skåne had to endure, how many of our towns and villages were burnt down, how often the black mould was stained red by the blood of our Skåne fathers! Skåne suffered and fought for Denmark, time and again it had to protect its mother's house with its blood and did it every time with sonly love. One only has to look at any Skåne document from this time to get a vivid idea of how Danish Skåne once was. Concrete details are often more convincing than the most undeniable abstract truths. Alas, we need only glance at Lund Abbey's Book of Records, for example, a collection of medieval documents in the possession of the Cathedral. Everywhere we find Danish names - on places, on streets and on people. Or we glance at a map of Skåne from the early 17th century and find, with strange feelings, all the old familiar village names in their original form.

Perhaps it could contribute to a clearer understanding of the scope of the Scanian problem to show how differently some central figures in the history of the North must be assessed from the Swedish and the Scanian point of view. If, for example, we choose Erik of Pomerania. In Swedish history, this prince stands with some justification as the foreign oppressor of the people. Scania viewed him with quite different eyes. In Lund he had celebrated his stately wedding to Philip of England. He was the man who founded Landskrona and surrounded Malmö with a defensive wall. Far be it from us to want to defend Christian II, the villain of Swedish history. It is a fact, however, that he had several of his staunchest friends among the Scots. Or think of Gustaf Vasa, celebrated in Sweden as the liberator of the people and rightly praised as the true founder of the modern Swedish state. Skåne came to know this prominent monarch only as the invader, whose troops unnecessarily invaded and ravaged the Skåne countryside, and somewhat later as the fleeting guest, who after his trip to Skåne bitterly swore that he would never again go to foreign places. Another of Sweden's greatest rulers, Gustaf II Adolf, also made himself known as an invader, mainly in Skåne, as our dangerous enemy, feared by all our people. What feelings the contemporary Scanians had towards Charles X Gustaf we can only too easily deduce. They certainly differed considerably from the Swedish view of the time of this strong-willed king, the insatiable conqueror of Skåne. What remains from Sweden's period of great power is Charles XII. It would be interesting to know what the people of Skåne thought of him in their hearts. During his reign, many of those who had taken part in the Scanian war of independence in the 1670s were still alive, and certainly people in Skåne lamented more deeply than in any other part of the country the difficult and heavy years that Karl XII's endless wars brought to his bleeding people. This, in any case, is a secondary matter. The main issue is put beyond discussion. Until the beginning of the eighteenth century, the national position of the Skåne was quite different from that of the Swedes.

The short period in the 14th century, when Skåne was united with Sweden, hardly makes any noticeable dent in this unbroken continuity, which Skåne's Danish history forms. For the union in question was only a loose union and left no deeper traces in the cultural development of Skåne. It was formed at a time when Denmark was groaning under foreign domination and a split that almost led to the dissolution of the empire was tearing the country apart. When the Danish empire rose again from this state of weakness, Skåne was soon back in its former context. It is true that a marked regional particularism prevailed in Skåne during the earlier Middle Ages. One recalled, for example, the rebellion of our peasants against Archbishop Absalon. But this particularism by no means prevented a simultaneous sense of belonging to the entire Danish kingdom. With this, however, we had everything essential in common: memories, language and culture. Certainly, the cohesion of the regions in medieval Denmark, with its shorter distances and easier means of communication, was far stronger than in medieval Sweden, where the national feeling covering the whole kingdom was only really awakened in the 15th century. But who can deny that Östergötland, for example, is an ancient Swedish region on the grounds that its inhabitants felt more like Ostrogoths than Swedes for a long time?

At Östergötland we would like to linger for a moment in order to get a reflection of the Skåne problem from there too. The venerable Östergötland, like Skåne, is rich in the most precious memories of the Middle Ages. From Östergötland came the Folkunga dynasty, in Östergötland lived Saint Birgitta and the blessed Nicolaus Hermanni, there rose Vadstena and Alvastra monastery, there lived and worked Bishop Brask. In contemporary Skåne we can easily find counterparts to most of these imperishable medieval memories. But the historically alert must then consider that while all the old rich traditions of Östergötland are linked by their historical context to Sweden, all the corresponding memorial treasures from the same time, which we value and love in Skåne, are the equally indisputable belonging of Danish history and the Danish cultural development.

Perhaps a simple thought experiment with another Swedish landscape might be helpful to those who have not yet been able to discover a satisfactory justification for the existence of the Skåne problem. Let us imagine that the Nordic civil war of the 17th century had taken a different turn, so that, for example, Dalarna had been united with Norway. Would it then be found unjustifiable and inexplicable in Sweden if the Dalarna of our time, although fully normalised, were still affected by their old memories of the time before 1650, their ancestry and their traditions, and regarded their national position as the great problem of the whole of Dalarna, the serious overthinking and satisfactory solution of which must be regarded as a matter of life and heart for all good Dalarna men and women? The parallel with Skåne, conquered by Sweden, is nevertheless complete, with the difference, perhaps, that Skåne is even richer in important memories and beautiful traditions of older times than Dalarna, and from time immemorial up to the middle of the seventeenth century even more firmly united with its motherland than Dalarna was at the corresponding time united with Sweden.

Wouldn't it be more than unjustified from a Skåne point of view, if we Skåne people willingly threw away these invaluable and irreplaceable Skåne memories and completely ignored the whole fundamental time when we were united with Denmark, Skåne's most glorious and eventful period? How can anyone come and say that he is proud of his Skåne blood and holds Skåne dear, and at the same time show himself spiritually detached from the whole of that momentous period when Skåne cultural life both took root and flourished for sunny centuries and bore the most glorious fruits, of which we still enjoy daily?

Thus our old Scanian history speaks to each of us, sometimes with manly seriousness, sometimes with heart-warming familiarity, like a mother to her son, who does not quite know where he belongs. Here we have only been able to draw out some of the rich memories of our fleeting Skåne glory days. We could all easily find countless others in the spacious storehouses of Skåne tradition. Who can deny these traditions of ours, who can deprive us of these treasures, if we do not ourselves throw them away? Those who seek to trivialize the whole Skåne problem with a few fleeting words or with a misplaced joke, however, apparently do not want to deny the existence of our entire Skåne capital of memory.

But instead they seem to have got it into their heads that our past has no living connection with our present, that it is to us like a dead and frozen world of memory, a curiosity collection of petrified facts and data, which cannot now make any Skåne's eyes shine or his heart beat faster. It is as if an insurmountable boundary wall excluded Scots of this kind from the glory of their own ancient world. The Skåne that is now seems to them to be a rather new creation, at any rate a very different country from the Skåne that rose between the Sound and the Baltic until the end of the seventeenth century.

If this way of looking at things were correct, there would of course be little point in straining the brain with any Skåne problem. But can one in the long run deal so selfishly with the holiest realities of history? Is not such a procedure a denial of undeniable powers of life, which are beyond and above the discretion of the individual? After all, one can hardly stay in a place for any length of time without hearing about the memories of that place. They are as one with the place itself, they are still alive - not as a collection of purely theoretical truths, but even more as a reality deeply affecting the entire thought and emotional life of the inhabitants. A town, a country, a people is not merely the geographical area or the sum of individuals in question at the moment, but a piece of living reality which can only be understood and explained in the context of its whole history. The past lifetime of the whole place, country or people, with its memories and traditions, must also be considered in its inner context with the present time, before the content of these far-famed concepts can be considered exhausted. For a historically alert Skånean, Skåne cannot possibly be the same as the homeland as it now appears, with tall, smoking factory chimneys and fast railway trains giving something of today's pulsating life to the tranquil plain with fully loaded steamships in the harbours and busy harvesting machines of the most modern type, illuminated by an ever equally long-awaited August sun, the promised land of willows and sugar beets. It would be as senseless as it would be dangerous to mutilate oneself by such a fundamentally wrong approach, to cut off the noblest parts of one's own living homeland. No, for us Skåne must be the ancient land whose cultivation has been painstakingly built up over centuries and millennia, the land where the fertile soil still hides a harvest of artefacts from the Stone Age and Bronze Age, the land where the grassy burial mounds still remind a late-blooming family of the struggles and endeavours of fathers long since gone to their graves. Our love also embraces the Skåne land where Bishop Egino once preached the gospel of Christ to a wild and unruly heathen people, the Skåne that raised the Lundadomen and adorned the silk-green plain with the pearl strings of white churches, where churchwardens and lords of the manor rode about with their colourful retinues, while the folk poets imitated the tones of the Scanian larch and the Scanian nightingales, and fairy tales and legends spun mysteriously radiant webs over the ramparts and villages, the Skåne where Tyge Brahe sat in the Scanian starry night immersed in the mysteries of the celestial vault, where the hot-tempered snapphanes gathered for council in the most inaccessible forests of Skåne. We feel nothing so painful as this thoughtless willingness to cut out of Skåne consciousness the most glorious and fruitful periods of our history. Only when someone can prove to us, with really binding and convincing reasons, that this living past - the Skåne that once was - cannot be ours but only the property of the present-day Danes, will we let it go and sadly admit that we, as invaders and strangers, build and live in our own and our fathers' irreplaceable land.

But - you may now ask - if this older period is really of such fundamental importance for the entire culture of Skåne, how can one explain that it plays such a surprisingly small role in the popular consciousness of Skåne today? The explanation is all too easy to find. As a rule, the Scanians have hardly any opportunity to study the fate of their own country in context during this long period. In Skåne's schools - higher as well as lower - there is not even the most basic instruction in the history of Skåne. Indeed, there is hardly even a textbook on the subject! Even in highly educated Skåne circles one can find the deepest ignorance of the ancient destinies of one's own country. Many Scanians probably know the history of China and Australia better than their own country. At most, the historically interested elite know the most important names and the most significant events from Skåne's past; others know some old local traditions from the very place where they live. Only a meagre little collection of historical bits and pieces without the inner context which is above all necessary to make the past alive and valuable for the present.

Anyone who wants to judge fairly and objectively must admit that this is an abnormal situation. It is almost unbelievable that an entire nation of over 700,000 people can walk in dead ignorance of their own country's history. And this can happen even in our time, when interest in antiquity and ancient monuments is so strong everywhere and historical consciousness in all countries is so alert. How will the children of Skåne learn to love their history - it may never be so valuable and eventful - when they are not even told anything about it? It is impossible to love what one does not know. But - quite apart from the discussion of this particular school question - one can hardly find sufficient grounds for denying the general interest of the Skåne problem on the ground that it has not yet been generally noticed by a people who have never had the opportunity to receive a coherent account of their own history and therefore could not possibly come to reflect on the serious and deep-seated main problem which lies hidden in it. Those who think they can completely ignore the Scanian problem find their only real excuse at present in the still slumbering Scanian public consciousness, which seems so little concerned with it. But let the people of Skåne have a little more vivid knowledge of their history, a little fuller knowledge of their rich ancient memories! And then let us see if the whole Skåne problem has been merely the figment of an exaggerated Skåne patriot's imagination, an empty phantom, suddenly appearing for no reason to an unwilling company in the reluctantly reflective present, who would rather be left alone as much as possible and spared the trouble of overthinking and contemplating more than the most unavoidable everyday problems!

The Danish heritage

Evidence can be found that love for the fatherland becomes so intense that it is stronger than love for the fathers. This has been the case in Finland, for example, since the publication of the Kalevala songs brought the country's ancient culture to shine with a previously unknown brilliance for Finland's children. Then it not infrequently happened that the sons of the Swedish families, descendants of the country's ancient conquerors, conquered themselves for the Finnish cause, refined their names, and became the most ardent among the zealous in the struggle for the Finnish language and Finnish culture. In other cases the opposite has happened. The sense of connection with the fathers has remained so strong that it keeps down the sense of homeland. Thus the descendants of the English immigrants in Ulster still seem to embrace England, where their fathers came from, with greater affection than the memorable Ireland which they themselves inhabit. The renationalisation of a country thus effected has its explanation, though it too must be regarded as a misfortune for the country itself, whose past it must make, as it were, a no-man's land.

But is it in a similar way that Skåne has become part of Sweden? Even the most ignorant know that this is not the case at all. We twentieth-century Scanians are by no means descendants of any immigrant conqueror people. We are children of the same tribe that has lived in our ancient land for thousands of years. We thus have no reason to feel alienated from the men and women who since time immemorial have strived and worked in Skåne and for Skåne. It would be a tremendous impiety, if we would prefer to forget or deny our origin, our descent from the Skåne people, who for thousands of labours have ploughed our Skåne land and built our roads, cleared our forests and given our villages their names, who have built our ports and for years worked on our churches and castles, who toiled and toiled, fought and sacrificed for the Skåne land, which it like us so dearly loved. How could we forget these our fathers, whose bones rest in our Scanian soil, whose tombstones and memorial tablets are to be found in our old churches? No, the family ties that bind us to the old Danish times can never be broken. How often the very names we bear are daily reminders of this our living connection with the Skåne that once was! Especially in the countryside, in most places the entire population has been preserved almost completely unmixed. The legacy of the fathers, the old type of people, the old character of the countryside, has also managed to survive surprisingly well right up to the present day. Despite all the political changes, Skåne culture has been able to preserve its close affinity with Danish culture throughout the ages.

The Danish heritage is easily detected in the typical Scanian landscape. In the south and west of Skåne, nature is almost completely similar to that of Zealand. Towards the north and east, other types of landscape can also be found, for Skåne is a country that is also rich in varied natural scenery, a northern European microcosm. But all over our province one finds an essentially similar Skåne settlement culture, with all its minor variations. It is here, as everywhere else, that the common people, with the greatest care, have nurtured and preserved the heritage of their fathers. Anyone who has spent any length of time in the Skåne countryside can hardly fail to notice more and more clearly how strongly the old cultural heritage still permeates and characterises the whole of Skåne in our time. It is not only the wide horizon, the rich grain fields and the cool beech forest that we have in common with Denmark. It is not only the half-timbered house and the stepped gable, the long roofs and the straw roofs and the farms built around them that bring to mind the western country. It is not only the old cottages, the old customs, the old sayings and the old words that bear eloquent witness to their origins in the time that laid the foundations of agriculture in Skåne for all time. No deeper, much deeper has this influence reached. It has left an indelible mark on the typical Skåne mentality, on the very soul of the people. Skåne wit, Skåne butter straightforwardness, Skåne loyalty, Skåne humour! Who can fathom the depths of these mysterious words, which carry sweet messages from the homeland. One must be satisfied if one finds someone who is himself a Skåner and well acquainted with Skånian peculiarities, and can tell from his expression that he has understood something of the content of these mysterious expressions, which cannot possibly be adequately defined and must nevertheless be understood before one can perceive the essence of Skåne-ness. If one has lived for some time up Sweden, one is struck by how strongly the Skåne type of people differs from those who build and live north of Skåne's borders. This is a purely objective observation and in no way gives the Skåner cause for boasting and exaltation. The people up there have many valuable qualities and characteristics which we do not possess to the same extent. Their country has many kinds of beauty and other advantages which Skåne lacks. But it is only natural and justifiable that we should feel most attached to our own and our own. And if we look at Skåne's uniqueness more closely, it might seem that we see the original folk spirit shining through the thin oskånska veneer, with which it has been covered by a recent time.

Our old Skåne dialect is an important part of the Skåne heritage. It is astonishing and depressing that this is regarded, even by good Skåne people, as a vulgar and ridiculous cultural relic, which we should preferably do away with sooner rather than later, so as not to expose ourselves to the superior mockery of outsiders. Here we have a rare clarifying proof of the extent to which a distorting national education has been able to obscure the historical outlook of the people of Skåne. The indigenous cultural heritage cannot possibly be regarded with due deference by a people who have never learned to see it in its venerable historical context. Anything authentically Skåne is therefore nowadays easily subject to only half-embarrassed ridicule, even from the Skåne people themselves! Our old dialect is probably one of the most eloquent testimonies to the unbroken cultural connection with our ancient past, old expressive core words, spoken by lineage after lineage and in a living way preserved the temporal context of Skåne village culture, while so many other old valuable ties have broken.

This would be a grateful field of work for Skåne's cultural conservatives. The increasingly levelling modern age is now also threatening the Skåne village culture, which it seeks to replace with the shabbiest unculture, made up of alien, hopscotched cuddles. Old Skåne has already for several decades been a defenceless prey to the most ruthless vandalism, which has already wrought more havoc than many of the ravages of the past in the country. Old white churches have been razed to the ground, red and yellow brick buildings of the international merchant type have been erected in their place, beautiful old farms have been demolished, others - as staid as they are alien to Scanian tradition - have been made their unworthy successors. Old castles and fortresses have been similarly destroyed. The old types seem to be dying out. Old customs are more and more abandoned. The people who were once deprived of their antiquity are now also beginning to be deprived of the remaining remnants of the past glory which they scarcely know. One tries to console oneself with the thought that all this newly arrived inferior culture is of a foreign nature, obviously un-Scanish in its whole form, created without any regard for old Scanian tradition. All this is true, of course. But it must not be forgotten that our Scanian culture itself may take root if its by no means inexhaustible treasures are thus allowed to be neglected and wasted with impunity. Would it not be a great present-day task for the conservatives of Skåne to cherish and protect the irreplaceable heritage of the fathers? Unfortunately, one often finds among those who call themselves conservative Scanians the greatest and most outrageous indifference to the preservation of old Skåne tradition and old Skåne cultural values - instead of the conservatism that they profess with their mouths, they show a radicalism of heart that could hardly be more perfect.

And one can hardly hope for a real safeguarding of the future of Skåne culture, as long as the people of Skåne persist in their voluntary ignorance of the historical origins and development of their own culture. One might reasonably ask why the Skåne problem has so far not been debated more, despite the daily reminders of its existence that we Skåne people have in the rich heritage of a bygone age that surrounds us - apart from the fact that we know little or nothing about the history of that age. We must not overlook the diverting role played by our schools' history teaching in this context too. In schools, through years of study - deepened by reading, conversation and song - under the conscious influence of the teacher, a people is formed in love with its history. What is learned in childhood is usually retained throughout life. School education has an opinion-forming effect. This is all well and good. All the children of the people should thus learn to know and love the history of their country and the achievements of their fathers. And they will learn to see their past reflected in the surrounding present. But in the Scanian schools this is precisely what does not happen. The children of Skåne never have the opportunity to get to know the history of Skåne and the fates and adventures of the Skåne fathers. Therefore, they never learn to appreciate the cultural context that links the country's past with its present. Thus, the unnatural, systematic disregard of the historical context by the Skåne school is as emphatic as it is unintentional in its suppression of both the feeling of home and the respect for the Skåne fathers. Is it any wonder, then, that this education, carried out everywhere in Skåne, has an all-powerful opinion-forming effect, and that the ever-suppressed or neglected Skåne culture is generally despised and scorned? Is it strange, then, that the historical consciousness of Skåne has difficulty in waking up in general? And the Scanian press, the other main opinion-forming factor, is itself exclusively influenced by the public opinion resulting from the influence of the school, and in its turn influences it in the same direction. After studying this systematic self-destruction of the Scanian past, one could rather be surprised that the last spark of historical consciousness has not long since died out in the heart of Skåne after so many years of oblivion, that the healthy human nature with its deeply rooted instincts - love for the homeland, piety towards the fathers - is nevertheless finally reacting against all this ingrained unnature and seriously demands a solution to the Scanian problem. Could not the reflections in these two chapters be summarized and condensed as follows:

If, in a particular case, a people is regarded as fully entitled both to be cut off from its ancient memories and to detach itself just as radically from the duty of duty to the fathers, does it not thereby deny patriotism itself as a truly commanding power, above and beyond the discretion of the individual? A people who show themselves to be utterly oblivious to the memory of their fathers, and who live in self-imposed ignorance even of their most honourable achievements and most momentous destinies, who show no regard for the national position they once occupied, such a people deserve no better fate than to become once more the prey of conquerors, to be equally utterly forgotten and denied by their children and descendants, to be regarded and treated by their own heirs as an alien tribe, whose history no one wishes to know as their own. But can such a thing be done in Skåne, once our people have made clear to themselves what is at the heart of the question? However, the Skåne still have both a strong love for the ancestral order and a faithful reverence for the memory of their fathers. The Skåne patriot, once convinced that Skåne's historical problem is a serious reality, will not let his thoughts rest until he has found a real and thorough solution to it.

The Swedish period

Now follows that of the facts in the composition of our Scanian problem, which is at present most strongly imprinted in the Scanian popular consciousness. For more than 200 years Skåne has been intimately connected with Sweden. This union has not been achieved by law or by the will of the people, who have long faithfully adhered to their old traditions and only when they saw the futility of continued resistance did they submit to the supremacy. Well, the radical change in all particulars, with changed place and family names, was effected not by our fathers themselves but by outside influence. The vigorous growth of Skåne's culture was stopped for a long time to come, and the once flourishing Skåne was transformed into a kind of numbed country without living memories, without a lively tradition.

But despite all this, Skåne has become strongly and deeply attached to Sweden. Indeed, as intimate as the union with Denmark once was, the union with Sweden is now just as intimate, apart from the minus that the lack of common memories and common tradition in older times represents. Above all, the language is a living bond that unites us with Sweden. We also have many common memories from recent times, although these have not been as rich in great personalities and significant events as the previous period. A strong network of family ties also unites us with the people of Upper Sweden. And in many family lines our fathers have focused almost exclusively on the new connection to the north. To enumerate even the most important common ties which now unite us with Sweden would be both too extensive and wholly unnecessary, as they are all generally and well known.

Even those who have dared to look the Scanian problem in the eye without any other interest than the objective search for truth still have a firm and warm feeling of belonging to Sweden. He feels this affinity all the more strongly, since he has learned that it can be examined with all the criticism that consideration of Skåne's special historical position necessarily demands. And this feeling of deep affinity is not only based on the fact that both our Scanian fathers and their Swedish contemporaries belonged to the Scandinavian tribe and were thus closely related kinsmen. It is based no less on the great values which we have had in common with Sweden during the last period of our history. No one who has really tried deeply and seriously to get to grips with the difficult historical problems of Skåne could consider himself led to feel the slightest antipathy towards Sweden, at least towards Sweden in our day.

There are modern Skåne people who, in their assessment of Swedish culture, show a typical uncertainty - a mixture of drunkenness and spinelessness - which is only the natural consequence of their unskåne historical upbringing and outlook. They believe themselves to be true Skåneans when they boast and brag of the material wealth of Skåne and look down contemptuously on the northern regions, which they know only imperfectly. But at the same time they show not the slightest appreciation of Skåne's most valuable capital and most honoured assets: our memories in story, stone and writing, and are thus not challenged by the most fleeting inkling of the profound problem, the solution of which confronts every one, who has really begun to understand what he owns in his old, proud Skåne country. They thus never emphasize the essentials of Skåne, but only side issues of secondary importance. Once one has become more thoroughly acquainted with the issues involved and has gathered the necessary knowledge for a factual treatment of the Skåne problem, one looks up with unchanged reverence and love, despite one's Skåne views, to the Swedish culture, which is only too little appreciated by one's own people, and from which Skåne has also received the most valuable impulses both in the past and in the present day.

Need we add that the same superficial, in name Skåne traveler and scrounger even less shows himself to have any feeling for the indissoluble, sacred ties, which unite us with Denmark. And he thinks he is showing powerful patriotism by railing against the Danish Empire, the land of his fathers! However, with some reflection, this Skåne problem is also understood and solved. Of Skåne's old history during the Danish period, this superficial assessor knows not a leaf, of Denmark only Copenhagen and of Copenhagen not much more than Tivoli and similar cultural centres. If he were once to go out to some small Danish town or to the Danish countryside and stay there for a while, he would soon make a surprising discovery: a settlement more Skåne-like than Skåne itself, a land where one finds all the peculiarities that we so much love and value in Skåne, often in even more pronounced form and even more beautiful and purer perfection than in the homeland, and all this in combination with a rare Skåne fervour for the old cultural tradition, with a living reverence and love for the past times. Here it would be tempting to make a small personal remark. How can anyone who has had his attention drawn to the Skåne problem call himself a good and genuine Skåner and at the same time thrive on self-chosen ignorance of the whole of Skåne's ancient history, stand completely cold and unmoved by his country's old memories, adopt an indifferent or even unfriendly attitude towards Denmark and not care if his children learn anything about the fates and achievements of their fathers? Is this not a new problem, which seems far more difficult than the Scanian problem itself? A problem that seems rather unsolvable than intractable. And yet one will certainly find many who walk around unmoved by this disruptive internal contradiction. In order to get complete peace from all troubling thoughts, they should exchange the old family name Skåning for another, which no longer reminds them of a compromising past.

But - someone might say - wouldn't it be easiest and most convenient to avoid the Scanian problem by sort of selecting the Swedish time and the Swedish connection as the only thing to be considered for us modern Scanians, and pretending that the Danish time and the Danish heritage simply didn't exist. That would be a radical way of solving the problem. However, one might ask whether such a procedure would be possible even for those who are willing to divest themselves of their entire precious ancestral heritage for the sake of convenience. However, ancient history, ancestry and cultural tradition are objective, awe-inspiring realities for every people, which no one can deal with according to his subjective whim without sooner or later getting even. No one rises up against the order of nature with impunity. No one breaks with impunity the commandment, "Thou shalt honour thy father and thy mother, that thou mayest live long upon the earth."

Finally, what can be said about the development of specifically Scanian culture during this period? It took a long time for it to recover from the severe stresses of the 17th century. Until well into the 19th century, the whole of Skåne was an insignificant province in the style of its formerly proud centre, Lund, which Tegnér during this period gave the certainly sadly well-intentioned name: "An academic farming village". Later in the same century, however, a slow recovery began. Brunius studied the medieval memories of Skåne with enthusiasm, Nicolovius wrote his classic descriptions of folk life, which were later supplemented by Henrik Wranér's extraordinarily perceptive Skånehistorier. With A.U. Bååth, Ola Hansson and Vilhelm Ekelund, Skåne also gained some first-rate sculptors. However, the effects of modern Skåne's lack of tradition can also be observed in them, as their poetry has not really been able to take root in the soil of the home. Bååth seeks out the old Iceland, Vilhelm Ekelund the old Hellas, Ola Hansson moves within a Baltic sphere of interest. In Skåne none of them is really at home, despite noticeable attempts to gain a foothold on home soil. The age of cultural radicalism was not the right time for a cultural conservative revival. However, it seems that it was precisely during this time that the Skåne countryside began to be rediscovered by its own inhabitants. Skåne painters increasingly sought to interpret the Skåne countryside. In Hans Larsson we have a cultural philosopher of typical Skåne character. Our old art treasures are once again being studied with loving zeal. And the wide plains, the fertile fields are no longer despised by their own. Skåne begins to be honoured again, but only as a geographical concept. But this newly awakening love for the Skåne soil can never gain victorious strength until the national wealth that our Skåne memories and traditions from different times represent becomes more and more common property for all the sons and daughters of Skåne. For Skåne is by no means a mere geographical concept. The Skåne that we now see and love must, in order to be fully understood and loved, be seen in its living historical context with the time that has passed, "the living fatherland". But as soon as this has been done, the reality of the Skåne problem has already been generally recognised and the first steps have been taken towards its decisive solution.

We have thus come to realise the inevitable existence of the Scanian problem and at the same time understood that its solution is one of the most important tasks facing the tradition-loving Scanians of our time. This is by no means a question of a difficulty of thought arising from an internal contradiction of secondary importance or of a nature that will soon pass. The Skåne problem concerns areas which lie closest to the very heart of the inner life of an entire people, its national character; next to the religious problem, the national problem is the one which must most captivate the public interest and above all others requires a satisfactory solution. Here even the most rigorous concentration of thought and the most strenuous thought are not uselessly wasted. Here a serious discussion of the important problem from different points of view must give it the all-round illumination which is one of the main conditions for any thoroughgoing solution of the problem.

A thoughtful solution

There are problems that can never find a fully satisfactory solution. The ability of human thought to resolve contradictions and gain clarity is only limited. But this must not prevent us from using the knowledge and the power of thought at our disposal to penetrate the semi-darkness of the world of problems. After all, thinking with new clarity and conquering new territories is one of the most distinguished marks of the human race. A problem such as that of Skåne, rooted in well-known historical facts, cannot be counted among the most intractable of world puzzles. However, it will of course require both much serious reflection and a clarifying exchange of views before the desired reconciliation of the contradictions that exist here can be achieved. This little publication has no other purpose than to demonstrate the inescapable reality of the Scanian problem, to provoke reflection and to call for discussion. However, for the sake of completeness, we cannot avoid presenting some alternatives for solving the problem at hand. It is possible that several better solutions are possible. Any thoughtful and sensitive suggestion to clarify the issue would be greatly appreciated by anyone who has grasped the seriousness of this difficulty.

At first, the alternative could be considered: only Denmark. However, this would not be a real solution of the contradiction but only an attempt to eliminate one of the two cultural powers active in Scanian history and cultivation. The Swedish period in the history of Skåne, the intimate union with Sweden are, however, just as inevitable and just as inviting a reality as the Danish period and the connection with Denmark. It is impossible to erase whole centuries of a people's history and pretend that they never existed. Even if Skåne's complete return to Denmark could now take place in the most calm and peaceful manner, the Swedish connection and the Swedish influence for more than 200 years could never be erased in the future. The Skåne problem would remain unresolved by this solution, as it had been in the past, only in a different way than it is now.

The second option could be the most convenient at the moment: only Sweden. But it is clear to every historically thinking and feeling Skåner that this option is even less a real solution to his country's great and difficult cultural problems. We have had occasion to point this out repeatedly in the preceding paragraphs. This slogan would mean a definitive denial of our Scanian origins, a wiping out of the longest and most glorious period in our history, a spiritual discarding of thousands and thousands of precious memories of various kinds. Rich Skåne would then become the poor country that had done away with its own antiquity and thereby shamelessly given away its incomparably most precious cultural treasures.

A third alternative to solve the problem would be: neither Denmark nor Sweden, in other words: independence for Skåne. This proposal for levelling out the contradiction is perhaps the most superficially thought-out, for it neglects with the most sovereign contempt for historical reality both of the opposing factors which have been uninterruptedly dominant in Skåne's cultural development. Here we have a solution to our Gordian knot, which finds not the least justification in the history of Skåne, for Skåne has never in historical times been an independent kingdom, but always only a part of a larger whole. Nor is Skåne culture so peculiar that it could require a corresponding political special status. It is, if the simple truth be told, only a child of Denmark and Sweden in union, and thus attaches Skåne with equally indissoluble ties to both these countries.

This conclusion already includes a fourth option: both Denmark and Sweden. Skåne is according to this called to be the bond, which unites the two countries for all time. For many Skåne patriots, the Skåne problem has certainly already been consciously on their minds. But they have put away the brooding thoughts, as they could see no prospect of a practically satisfactory solution of these historical difficulties. A resumption of the debate on the Scanian problem would, in their opinion, lead only to pointless disputes and unproductive quarrels. Had they thought and researched further, they might have found a practical solution which would have removed the deep contradictions in our Scanian tradition in a truly satisfactory way and at the same time have a unifying and reconciling, rather than a divisive and divisive, effect. This last alternative solves Skåne's national problem with the most respectful and sensitive consideration of the history and cultural development of the whole of Skåne. It does not simplify the difficulty by seeking to erase or obscure the smallest piece of historical truth. It acknowledges our Danish connections as well as the Swedish ones, and seeks to reconcile this indisputable contradiction in Skåne cultural history by Scandinavian unification efforts starting from Skåne.

It is well known that, not so long ago, keen friends of the fatherland, both in Denmark and Sweden, have been very anxious for Scandinavian unification. In many ways they have tried to realise this beautiful dream of the future, but so far without any really solid and far-reaching results. The support for their aspirations, which these older Scandinavians considered to have found in the earliest history of the Nordic peoples, has been rather weakened by recent research. The new Scandinavianism, which has begun to awaken in recent years, is more practical and sober, but it lacks the strong historical incentives to Nordic unity which the old one thought it possessed.

One now asks whether a decisive solution of the Scanian problem would not be the most powerful possible instrument in the service of contemporary Scandinavia. Here we find the most unshakeable historical facts, which testify to the indissoluble connection of an important Scandinavian country with two of the kingdoms which Scandinavianism seeks to bring closer and to unite. Here we need not search in the dim dawn of a distant past, but can only point to the living, sunny reality which surrounds us Scanians daily and hourly. No major external changes would be necessary or desirable in order to solve the Skåne problem in this way. All that was needed was that the children of Skåne should become generally acquainted with at least the main features of their country's history, so that the general opinion in Skåne would be increasingly imbued with a profound Scandinavianism. Scandinavianism would also become completely independent of emotional currents, of changing fashions in the field of ideas, of political conjunctures. And Sweden as well as Denmark would listen more and more to the Scanian wishes of the people, who themselves, as a fruit of Danish-Swedish unity, strive unceasingly and tirelessly to unite Denmark and Sweden. Skåne would thus once again have an unsought opportunity to perform a great and glorious historical task.

If someone asked what Skåne as such means in our time, this question is extraordinarily easy to answer. At present Skåne means nothing at all. What individual Skåne politicians and cultural figures may have achieved in recent times means just as little in this context, since they have generally carried out their life's work without the slightest thought of Skåne and of the great specifically Skåne traditions and tasks. The considerable spiritual and material resources available in Skåne could be used in a completely different way if they were saved for a task worthy of our ancient and memorable country.

What are we then, we children of the Skåne myllan, what are we and where do we belong? What answer will we find to these questions when we have seriously and thoroughly considered our national problem in the light of our history? Well, first and foremost, we are Scanians. We are Skåne, and we have always been Skåne. The Skåne land belongs to us, and we belong to the Skåne land. The history of Skåne is also entirely ours. No power in the world can take it away from us. But in addition we are also entirely Scandinavian, a people of unmixed Nordic blood. The ancient Nordic, generally Nordic cultural treasures are also entirely and undividedly our property. Finally, we are bound by common destinies for all eternity in an intimate union with both Denmark and Sweden. The older Danish and later Swedish traditions, which belong to the periods when Skåne was successively united with the two countries, are directly our property, the later Danish and older Swedish memories indirectly. Skåne is thus the Scandinavian country above all others, and the historical mission which Providence has assigned to us Scanians through our own past is a determined effort to unite the two Nordic peoples, with whom we have been, are and will remain inextricably linked.

Thus, it seems that the alternative to the solution of the Skåne problem, which takes the most reverent account of Skåne's past, is also the one that seems to promise the most for a fruitful and significant Skåne future. The land of Skåne, so long forgotten, ridiculed and despised, can once again rise with determined vigour in the glow of its indelible memories. And just as it was once the centre of the Church's unity work in the Nordic region, it can once again shine as an important powerhouse for the Nordic unity endeavours of the future.

We wanted to end these pages of Skåne prose with a Skåne song. Anyone who wants to can find the whole problem discussed here in Skåne's weapons. Come soon the day when all the children of the country have learned to understand the manly meaning of our too little known and respected colours!

The colours of Skåne

Brother, you once heard an expression,
that the strings of your heart touched sweetly.
The colours of Skåne? Cheerfully the words obey.
You yourself have not understood what they mean,
and when you asked others to explain,
they could not answer your question.
Now you're tired of searching in vain,
The meaning of Skåne's colours you want to know.

Alas, our land does not bear only golden harvests.
It is also rich in golden memories.
Search among them! Though none now reverence them,
they may provide answers to inquiring minds.
So choose the simplest method,
Search at the source, which gives life to the river.
For - may all others be dumb -
Skånes Grip will certainly be able to answer.

Behold he shines, warm with healthy powers,
the bird that has been nourished by the juices of Skåne.
The health color of the feathered brow cast.
High among the dance of the suns and the stars.
Red he rises to a golden sky,
over which the morning glow has flowed.
So he answers everyone who asks:
Red and gold from the arms of Skåne.

Red is the reflection of the Dannebrogen,
red as poppy in the golden rye.
Red is the crusade flag of the battlefield,
the rose in the herb gardens of our folk song,
sacred altar fire that Eskil cares for,
the sun of rumour from the sky of Tyge Brahe.
Red is the gloomy glow of burnt cities,
blood like Skåne in purple clothes.

Gold is the stem of the cross on the flag of Sweden,
the golden hope of our future.
Gold disturbs the martian sun from the edge of the sky
over horseweed at the edge of the ditch.
Yellow stands arrow by the road. Drizzle falls
rich from dark green leaves behind garden trellises.
And when autumn our summer's gold has borne,
clean on Skåneslätt our forest itself colored.

Then light out of the dark northern border mountains,
Skåneland in the right colour of the future.
A thousand golden flowers among the delights of summer
spread Skånegold from the heights of the Hills.
Over Lundaslätt and Ringsjövatten
bright starlight in the June night
and from Hallandsås to Ystadstrakter
sounded Skåne song in safe beats.

Subscribe to YouTube:


If you appreciate Allmogens independent work to portray our fine Swedish history and Nordic culture, you are welcome to buy something nice in the shop or support us with a voluntary donation. Thank you in advance!

Support Allmogens via Swish: 123 258 97 29
Support Allmogens by becoming a member
Support Allmogens in your will

Popular old texts

Shall we be heard on Sunday?

Get the newsletter every Sunday morning with the week's articles on Swedish history and Nordic culture. Free of charge!

Perfect! Check your inbox and confirm your registration and you're all set!