The Boys From the Prohibition: How They Survived and Why

Per Ole Johansen, University of Oslo

The illegal alcohol market in Norway is huge and it has been so since Prohibition (1917-1927). This paper examines how networks and subcultures were kept alive by the vererans and new generations of freshmen. It demonstrates that old smugglers who are still active did their first experiences in the early 1950s, learning from the veterabs fron the 1920s. When a state monopoly took over after 1927 alcohol was very heavily taxed. Period of rationing and strikes among state monopoly workers kept the public on the alert for alternative channels of alcohol. This illegal demand has been met by very adaptive networks with strong links to private businesses for import, and local organizations and work places for sale--an integrated part of the society, in other words, and hardly seen as crime at all by the "wet" public. The paper is based on oral histories, police files and materials from national archives.

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Updated 05/20/2006