Death of Greta Segerson

Post date: 29/01/2016

By Patrik Helgeson


The Swedish lifelong labour and anti-fascist activist Greta Segerson has died at the age of 101. 


Greta lived a long and eventful life fighting for the working class, against fascism and injustice. As a former Aid Spain activist during the Spanish Civil War, and as the widow of the Swedish Brigader Bengt Segerson, the cause of the Spanish Republic was always close to her heart. 


Together with the late German anti-fascist and anarcho-syndicalist volunteer Helmut Kirschey, she was the initiator of our organisation Friends of the Swedish Volunteers for Spain. She remained a board member through the years.


Greta Segerson was born and raised in the radical working-class stronghold of Masthugget, Gothenburg, in a period of industrial unrest and tenant actions against evictions. She joined the Communist Youth in the 1920s and went to study organisation, political economy and Soviet history in Moscow in 1934-1937.  At the same time, she served as a courier for the communist resistance movements and made several hazardous trips to Germany, Austria and France. 


Back in Sweden, she went on speaking tours about the fight for Spain and made great efforts in the successful Swedish Aid Spain movement. When Swedish International Brigade volunteers returned to Gothenburg in 1938, she met Bengt Segerson, whom she married in 1940.


In 1996, four years after Bengt Segerson's passing, Greta joined the Swedish delegation which attended the events taking place in Madrid, when volunteers from all over the world were honoured by the Spanish government and the Spanish people.


At the age of 93, she gained national and also international media attention as the world's oldest rapper. She made a very unique version of the Swedish song ‘Jolly Bob from Aberdeen’ (1938) by Lasse Dahlqvist. This performance later turned into a tour at local events and elder care centres.


Jonas Sjöstedt, chairman of the Swedish Left Party (former Communist Party), of which she remained an active member until her very last days, wrote a book about the lives of Bengt and Greta in 2009, based on interviews starting in the 1980s.


We will miss her knowledge, her laughs and her great fighting spirit. We will also miss her singing ‘The Internationale’ at our annual May Day rally at Masthuggstorget, Gothenburg. 


First picture: Greta in Madrid in 1996, with the Swedish volunteer Gustav Gunnarsson. Photo: Martin Jönsson

Second picture: Greta singing ‘The Internationale’ at May Day commemoration rally in Gothenburg, with Barbro Fridén. Photo: Jöran Fagerlund



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