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Dudley Edwards

Anton Nilsson’s birthday

(November 1983)

From Militant, No. 677, 25 November 1983, p. 12.
Transcribed by Iain Dalton.
Marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Dear comrades,

Yesterday, I attended the birthday party of Anton Nilsson, at a small neat flat in a suburb of Stockholm. In less than three years, Anton will reach 100 years of age, spanning the whole history of the modern working class movement.

He was surrounded by his old comrades, mostly typical working class men and women, in Sunday best in Anton’s honour. Each comrade brought flowers and cards inscribed with signatures of inscriptions of organisations and individuals.

All morning, Anton was called to the telephone to receive congratulations from prominent people in the Swedish Social Democratic Workers Party, and the trade unions. These congratulations came from those on the right as well as the left. Among his comrades was a kind of committee, or club, of old freedom fighters, people who had served sentences for their devotion to the socialist cause.

Anton is still the undisputed and honoured leader of this group and the only one sentenced to life imprisonment, for his action against blacklegs in the great Swedish dock strike in 1908. Among these old comrades were some communists, socialists, and other left wingers who were thrown into concentration camps during the World War, because they resisted the passage of Nazi troops and war materials through Sweden. An act which was allowed by the Swedish government of those days.

This is a little-known episode in the international fight against fascism. As the afternoon wore on, it became clear that 96 year old Anton was, in spirit, amongst the youngest of those present. He spoke with great pride of his visit to the great Militant rally at Wembley on September 10 of this year. He said it was a highlight in his life.

He said the Militant supporters in Britain were now on the right course and what he saw convinced him that a real turning point had been reached in the revival of that revolutionary socialism which he had joined as a young man 80 years before.

He asked me to convey his greetings to all those comrades he met in Britain, and called again for a new working class international, as he did at Wembley.


Yours fraternally
Dudley Edwards

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