Utmaningarna mot demokratins skola: Den svenska lärarkåren, nazismen och sovjetkommunismen 1933-1945

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis (monograph)


The Swedish teaching profession, Nazism and Soviet Communism from 1933 to 1945

The “Democratic School” was a concept that Swedish teachers used regularly to describe the school that they had participated in building up. In the interwarperiod, the Democratic School was confronted with two major challenges, i.e. German Nazism and Soviet Communism. This thesis has, in a comparative form, investigated how the Swedish teaching profession dealt with these challenges, the argumentation strategies they used and how these challenges affected the collective identity and ideals of the teaching profession.
Nazism was rejected on the basis that it conflicted with Swedish teachers’ own ideals and identity. It was not a question of whether a repudiation should be made but rather how it should be presented to its members and Swedish society, without deviating from the political neutrality that the teacher profession was fostering.
In the Soviet case, this thesis uncovered more of a passivity and silence. When the Communist ideology was compared with the Nazi ideology on a more fundamental level, they were both rejected as a threat to the democratic school. However, the rapid modernization of Soviet society was met with respect as a utopian challenge to imitate. Teachers in Sweden recognized themselves in and picked out those aspects of develop-ments in Soviet Society that they regarded as positive and accepted those which fitted with their own ideals.
Nazism and Soviet Communism were used to strengthen the teacher profession´s own identity, but in a completely different way. Admiration for sections of the Soviet Communism experiment strengthened the belief of Swedish teachers in utopian educational reform, where schools would be able to change society. The definite rejection of the Nazi dystopia was utilized as a frightening measure to strengthen the teacher professions’ own democratic identity.


  • Per Höjeberg
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • History
  • Didactics


  • progressive education, totalitarianism, history of education, teaching profession, Soviet Communism, Nazism
Translated title of the contributionThe Swedish teaching profession, Nazism and Soviet Communism from 1933 to 1945
Original languageSwedish
Awarding Institution
Supervisors/Assistant supervisor
Award date2016 Apr 4
  • Department of History, Lund university
Print ISBNs978-91-87833-71-7
Publication statusPublished - 2016
Publication categoryResearch

Bibliographic note

Defence details Date: 2016-04-04 Time: 10:15 Place: Sal C121, LUX, Helgonavägen 3, Lund. External reviewer(s) Name: Frohnert, Pär Title: Docent Affiliation: Stockholms universitet ---

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