views updated Jun 08 2018


STOCKHOLM. The capital of Sweden, Stockholm originated as a fortress on a small island (holme in Swedish), part of an archipelago on the Baltic Sea at the mouth of Lake Mälaren. Tradition attributes construction of the fortress to Birger Jarl, one of Sweden's early kings, and dates it about 1250. Its strategic location helped protect against attacks by sea; it served as a lock on the entry to the navigable waters of Mälaren as well as a transit point for export of iron and copper from inland provinces. By the mid-fifteenth century, Stockholm was already referred to as Sweden's capital, although it was not yet the permanent residence of the monarch. With about six thousand inhabitants, mostly merchants and artisans, Stockholm was an important Baltic trading center. About half the population consisted of German merchants from cities such as Lübeck.

In the late fifteenth century Stockholm was besieged on several occasions, primarily during conflicts with Denmark. After a definitive split from the loose union that had governed Sweden, Denmark, and Norway, Sweden became a nation-state with a more powerful monarchy. Under Gustav I Vasa (ruled 15231560), Stockholm began to change from a self-governing town to Hans Nådes stad (the city of His Grace, the king) and became the seat of royal authority. Stockholm's development since then has always been linked to the state. Whereas the city had previously been dominated by merchants, the percentage of the population engaged in government administration increased significantly by the reign of Gustav I's son, John III (ruled 15681592).

Physical changes to the city came about in connection with the Reformation and Gustav I's subsequent appropriation of Catholic church property, including the tearing down of cloisters and churches. Stockholm was still, however, a city within walls, mostly confined to the area now known as Gamla Stan (the Old Town). In the seventeenth century Stockholm entered a period of expansion related to Sweden's emergence as a European military power under Gustavus II Adolphus (ruled 16111632). The city's population grew from about 10,000 in 1620 to more than 40,000 by 1660. City authorities drew up new street plans during the 1630s, and the Swedish nobility used fortunes secured in foreign wars to build palatial residences. One result of these changes was the disappearance of most of the city's medieval towers and walls.

New economic policies encouraged trade through Stockholm's ports. The city also became the center of military production in support of Sweden's aggressive foreign policy. While Sweden was unable to establish a monopoly over Baltic trade, Stockholm did have a virtual monopoly on the export of tar, produced in the extensive forests of Sweden and Finland, which was still part of Sweden at this time.

During Queen Christina's reign (16441654) the royal court resided more or less permanently in Stockholm for the first time. Christina's diverse intellectual interests helped make Stockholm, rather than the university towns such as Uppsala, the center of literary activity. Artists began to produce paintings and engravings showing views of the city during this period. The most complete pictorial record of Stockholm at this time is Erik Dahlberg's (16251703) book of engravings, Suecia Antiqua et Hodierna (Sweden ancient and modern), first published in its entirety in 1716. In 1697 a fire ravaged the royal castle, allowing extensive renovation of the antiquated building in the classical style by the architect Nicodemus Tessin the Younger (16541728). These renovations were not completed, however, for almost fifty years.

Population growth stalled after 1705 as the city entered a period of stagnation, due in part to the many wars of the period; from over 55,000 in the 1680s, the population declined to about 45,000 by 1720. An outbreak of plague in 1710 also claimed a third of the population. Political changes after the death of Charles XII (ruled 16971718) led by the 1730s to protectionist economic policies that promoted manufacturing (especially of textiles) while restricting imports drastically. These policies tended to favor Stockholm over other parts of Sweden, which resulted in an increase in the city's population, to about 70,000 by 1760. Most of this population growth came from immigration, however, as the mortality rate in Stockholm was very high; one in three children died in the first year of life.

After 1760, political changes led to a decline in manufacturing subsidies, slowing Stockholm's development. The city lost its privileged trading status in the Baltic, and the west coast city of Göteborg began to develop as a port. Though Stockholm remained by far the country's largest city, and the only one with over 10,000 inhabitants, the percentage of Swedish citizens living in Stockholm, about 4 percent in the mid-eighteenth century, declined over the following century.

See also Baltic and North Seas ; Charles XII (Sweden) ; Christina (Sweden) ; Gustavus II Adolphus (Sweden) ; Sweden ; Vasa Dynasty (Sweden) .


Ahnlund, Henrik. Historia kring Stockholm: Före 1520. Stockholm, 1965.

Hammarström, Ingrid, ed. Historia kring Stockholm: Vasatid och stormaktstid. Stockholm, 1966.

Högberg, Staffan. Stockholms historia 1. Stockholm, 1981.

Landell, Niks-Erik. Den växande staden: Stockholms bebyggelseoch naturhistoria. Stockholm, 1992.

Paul NorlÉn


views updated May 14 2018


STOCKHOLM , capital of *Sweden. The first Jew to settle in Stockholm was the gem-carver and seal-engraver, Aaron Isaac, who arrived in 1774. A year later the Jewish community was founded when the right of residence in the Swedish capital was granted to him, his brother, his business partner, and their families. By 1778–79 there was already a community of 40 families. Land for a cemetery, which was named Aronsberg after Aaron Isaac, had been acquired in 1776. In 1780 the first rabbi, Levin Hirsch Levi, arrived in Stockholm from Strelitz, *Mecklenburg. Three years later, at his request, he was awarded the title of chief rabbi of Sweden, which was subsequently held by all the rabbis of the Stockholm community. Until 1838 the community was organized on the usual pattern of German communities of the time. It was at first headed by a committee of three laymen, which in 1807 was enlarged to five. In 1838, the year which marked the beginning of emancipation in Sweden, the authorities laid down new rules for the organization of the community, which were drafted in consultation with Aaron Levi Lamm, then president of the community. As in many other European places, equal rights were granted at the price of abrogation of autonomy. From then on communal records were kept in Swedish instead of in Yiddish, and sermons in the synagogue had to be delivered in Swedish, Danish, German, or French. The independent activity of the community was restricted to charity and Jewish education; the latter was steadily declining.

In 1832 a rabbi with an academic degree (Loeb Seligman) was appointed in Stockholm for the first time. He introduced innovations from the *Reform movement into the prayers and customs, but the movement did not gain strength in the community until the 1860s. A powerful trend toward assimilation, however, was evident even before then, and in 1843 between 80 and 90 men and women out of the 400 members of the community converted to Christianity. It was only toward the close of the century, after the achievement of complete emancipation in 1870, that the patriarchal structure of the Mosaic Congregation of Stockholm was replaced by a more democratic system of electing members to the communal board. From 1882 membership of the community was conditional on Swedish nationality. The rabbis of Sweden were always invited from abroad. The liberal Gottlieb *Klein (1882–1914), a scholar born in Hungary, was succeeded by the Zionist Marcus *Ehrenpreis (1914–48), formerly chief rabbi of Bulgaria. His successor, Kurt *Wilhelm (1948–65), was born in Germany and took up his post in Stockholm after living in Jerusalem. In addition to the Great Synagogue in Stockholm, which was inaugurated in 1870, there are two smaller Orthodox synagogues which are supported by the community.

The character of the Stockholm Jewish community changed between the late 19th century and the post-World War ii period, due to the influx of immigrants and refugees fleeing the effects of persecution and war. In 1900 there were 1,631 members in the community (41% of all the Jews in Sweden), and in 1920 that number had risen to 2,747. Of these 1,353 were born in Sweden and 1,394 abroad. Until the rise of Hitler the situation remained unchanged. The principal activities on behalf of the refugees and negotiations with the authorities were necessarily concentrated in Stockholm. The community played a role in organizational activity and fund-raising. In the most critical period, however – before 1939 and the first phase of the war – its success was very limited. Thousands of requests for entry permits remained unanswered and the community itself was compelled to give negative replies. This situation changed with the arrival of refugees from Norway in 1942, and in particular with the escape of Jews from Denmark in October 1943. At the end of the war, a significant stream of refugees arrived from the concentration camps. Between 1933 and 1950 Stockholm spent a total of 17,500,000 Swedish kronor (7 kronor = 1 U.S. dollar) in relief, the community providing slightly over 5,000,000 kronor from taxes and appeals, while the remainder was paid by international Jewish organizations (about 8,000,000 kronor) and the Swedish Ministry of Social Affairs. After the war the Jewish community of Stockholm numbered 7,000 (including children). With the assistance of the *Claims Conference a community center was erected, and on the initiative of Zionist circles, whose influence increased after the establishment of the State of Israel, a Jewish elementary school was established and recognized by the Ministry of Education. The importance of the Jews of Stockholm was apparent in commerce, science, the arts, the press, and in publishing (the famous publishing company of Bonniers was founded in 1831, and by the close of the century it had attained the important position which it continued to hold in the literary life of Sweden). A quarterly review, Församlingsblad, founded by the Stockholm community in 1940 and edited by David Köpniwsky, contained news of communal life and from time to time published articles on the history of Swedish Jewry.

In 2005 the Jewish community of Stockholm numbered just over 5,000 members, with estimates of at least another 3,000–5,000 Jews living in Stockholm who are not affiliated.


One recent addition to the Stockholm Jewish community scene is the Paideia Institute, a pan-European initiative to revitalize Jewish knowledge and interest in Jewish culture. It came about through cooperation between European governments, Jewish organizations, and the business community towards the end of the 1990s, with the aim of examining and counterbalancing the consequences of the Holocaust and of reviving Jewish knowledge, culture, and traditions that were largely wiped out by the ravages of the Holocaust.

The Paideia Institute is a pan-European Jewish educational institution that has the recognition of the Swedish parliament and generous support from the World Jewish Congress and the Jewish Central Committee of Sweden, among others. In the first three years of its existence, it attracted 57 students from 17 countries – including Israel – who have returned to their home countries and helped nurture a flourishing revival of Jewish studies and Jewish-interest programs.


E. Olan, Judarna på svensk mark: historien om israeliternas invandring till Sverige (1924); Gamla judiska gravplaster i Stockholm (1927); M. Ivarsson and A. Brody, Svenskjudiska pionjärer och stamfäder (1956); H. Valentin, Judarna i Sverige (1964), incl. bibl. Add Bibliography: L. Dencik, Jewishness in Postmodernity: The Case of Sweden (April 2003).

[Leni Yahil /

Ilya Meyer (2nd ed.)]


views updated May 23 2018

Stockholm Port and capital of Sweden, on Lake Mälar's outlet to the Baltic Sea. Founded in the mid-13th century, it became a trade centre dominated by the Hanseatic League. Gustavus I (Vasa) made it the centre of his kingdom, and ended the privileges of Hanseatic merchants. Stockholm became the capital of Sweden in 1436, and developed as an intellectual centre in the 17th century. Industrial development dates from the mid-19th century. Industries: textiles, clothing, paper and printing, rubber, chemicals, shipbuilding, beer, electronics, metal, machine manufacturing. Pop. (2001) 754,948.