Sortbørskriminalitet i Danmark fra besættelse til efterkrigstid

  • Claus Bundgård Christensen


Black-Market Criminality in Denmark During the Occupation and the Post-War YearsThe black market in Denmark appeared around 1940, but it was not considered a major problem, because illegal commerce at that time was also conducted through other channels. Black-market activity during the Occupation culminated in 1944 after the disruption of the Danish police, but the period of its greatest extent was in the months after the Liberation. By 1949 it was clearly on the wane, but it disappeared only in the 1950s after the last categories of rationing were abolished.The goods exchanged on the black market often stemmed from private citizens, but first German and then English soldiers were also involved - primarily in the illegal supply of tobacco. The sale of ration coupons during the first years of the Occupation resulted to a certain extent in a redistribution of sugar and butter in favour of better-off social groups.Most black marketeers were unskilled male workers, close to half of whom were unemployed, a phenomenon that can be explained, especially during the last years of the war, by the fact that black marketing was more lucrative than ordinary employment. The black marketeers were not, however, representative of working class men, since many of the former were habitual criminals.In the earlier part of the period the most important black-market wares were ration coupons for butter, sugar, and coffee, but by 1943 cigarettes were dominant. Prices were relatively stable, but as the end of the war approached, they displayed a tendency to rise.A factor that impeded the black market from ever becoming a vitally necessary alternative to the legal market, as was the case in other countries, was that the Danish population was able to maintain a reasonable living standard on the basis of legally purchased rations. This set a limit to the black market’s influence on consumer behaviour, for supply was curtailed by limited demand. In part, rationed goods proved largely adequate, and, in part, there were other ways of circumventing rationing to obtain desired goods. The black market was relegated to the role of providing an extra supply of goods that were few in number, but highly in demand. On the other hand, the development of the economy after 1942 contributed to the spread of the market: idle capital increased spending power and made black-market buying commonplace.Translated by Miclael Wolfe
Bundgård Christensen, C. (2013). Sortbørskriminalitet i Danmark fra besættelse til efterkrigstid. Historisk Tidsskrift, 102(2). Hentet fra