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„Sveinn nokkur kom frá Rússíá“: Drengsmálið árið 1921 í ljósi nýrra heimilda

Höfundur:
Birtist í
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Ártal:
2018
Bls:
bls. 45-75
DOI:
Drengsmálið eða hvíta stríðið eins og það hefur líka verið nefnt var eitt þekktasta deilumál íslenskra stjórnmála á öldinni sem leið. Málið hófst eftir að Ólafur Friðriksson verkalýðsforingi sneri heim af þriðja heimsþingi Alþjóðasambands kommúnista, Komintern, í Moskvu haustið 1921. Með Ólafi í för frá Rússlandi var Nathan Friedmann, 15 ára munaðarlaus gyðingadrengur. Skömmu eftir komuna hingað til lands greindist Nathan með smitandi augnsjúkdóm er nefnist trakóma. Stjórnvöld vísuðu drengnum úr landi á grundvelli sóttvarnarlaga. Í kjölfarið kom til átaka á milli Ólafs og liðsmanna hans og lögreglunnar og varaliðs hennar sem mörkuðu þáttaskil í íslenskum stjórnmálum. Í greininni verður fjallað um þetta sögufræga mál í ljósi nýrra heimilda sem eru varðveittar á Ríkisskjalasafninu í Kaupmannahöfn. Gildi þeirra er einstakt að því leyti að þær varpa nýju ljósi á það hvernig ráðamenn ríkjanna túlkuðu sambandslagasamninginn frá 1918 og sýna að dönsk stjórnvöld voru reiðubúin að grípa til hernaðaraðgerða í Reykjavík ef íslenska ríkisstjórnin óskaði eftir aðstoð.
The Boy Who Came from Russia In late October 1921, Ólafur Friðriksson — one of the leaders of the Icelandic labour movement — returned to Iceland from Russia, where he had attended the Third Congress of the Communist International, Comintern. Travelling with him from Moscow was Nathan Friedmann, a 15-year-old orphaned Jewish boy from Switzerland. A few days after they arrived in Reykjavik, Nathan was diagnosed with a contagious eye disease known as tracoma. The Icelandic authorities decided to deport the boy, citing health regulations. This provoked a dispute between the government and Ólafur, who was adamant that the decision was politically motivated. On 18 November that year, a fight broke out between the police and Ólafur’s supporters in Suðurgata, when the authorities tried to enforce the decision of the government. The police were defeated. On 23 November, the authorities mobilised a 400-strong civil guard — the White Force — arrested Ólafur and his supporters and sent Nathan to Denmark a few days later. This article argues that this case demonstrated that the era of class politics had arrived in Iceland. While it is argued that Ólafur played a leading role in the dispute, the government’s part in the conflict is also emphasised and the effect on Icelandic-Danish relations analysed. It is maintained that fear of disease, suspicion towards foreigners and opposition to radical political movements played an important part in the escalation of the situation and that the case as a whole demonstrated the relative weakness of State power in Icelandic society. The dispute is placed within the broader context of the Russian revolution, in general, and the history of the Icelandic communist movement, in particular.