Module 7: The World War Era, 1914–1945

By Bertel Nygaard, PhD, Professor, Aarhus University 

With the constitution of 1915, Denmark’s political institutions entered the era of democracy. The period saw the consolidation of Denmark as a nation state, despite two world wars and the German occupation of 1940–1945. After 1920 the nation state included Southern Jutland (northern Schleswig), while ties to the former colonies and dependencies were weakened. The population grew, and in line with industrial expansion the biggest increase occurred in the urban areas associated with manual and office workers. Agricultural exports remained the most important part of the country’s economy, however. Workers, industrialists, farmers and smallholders formed interest organisations and political parties which, although they opposed one another, also increasingly managed to work together. Across the political spectrum, the larger organisations professed ideas of popular and national unity. The drastic social consequences of war and crises were increasingly countered by state regulation of the economy. Between 1914 and 1945, the conflicts, upheaval, fractures and uncertainty that characterise modern society began to emerge in intensified forms, but so too did the efforts to regulate and stabilise social conditions through collaboration between conflicting parties.

Watch this introduction to the module where Bertel Nygaard discusses a series of key points for the period 1914-1945. The film is in Danish with English subtitles, and lasts about seven minutes. Click 'CC' and choose 'English' or 'Danish' for subtitles.