Thorvald Stauning – Worker and Prime Minister


Thorvald August Marinus Stauning was born 26 October 1873. He grew up in a working-class household in Copenhagen, where workdays were long and funds were few. Stauning was an only child and though surroundings were meagre, his parents fought to provide their son with a proper education. Stauning’s mother, Caroline Stauning, had a strong interest in politics and planted an interest in the budding labour movement in her son, Thorvald. His father worked hard to earn enough money for his family but was often sick. Being an unskilled worker was hard.

Once a worker, always a worker

In 1887, Stauning began an apprenticeship as a cigar sorter, while also receiving lessons in German and bookkeeping at the student organisation Studentersamfundet. Stauning thus became skilled at both office work and languages, while at the same time also a skilled worker. His education was an important step on the way to a less laborious life different from the one he experienced at home. Throughout his life, this helped him handle tasks for the Social Democratic Party, while his sympathy and understanding were with the working class.

All of Denmark’s father

Thorvald Stauning was prime minister of Denmark from 1924-1926 and again in 1929 and all the way until 1942. In the 1930s, Thorvald Stauning was the unchallenged leader of the Danish Social Democratic Party and the Danish labour movement – he was all of Denmark’s father. The Social Democratic Party went from being a workers’ party to a people’s party with backing from large parts of the population.