Paul Geleff

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Paul Johansen Geleff

Paul Johansen Geleff (January 6, 1842 – 1928) was a Danish socialist organizer.[1] He was one of the founders of the socialist movement in Denmark.

Geleff completed his education as school teacher in 1864, and went on to work as a teacher and publisher.[1] In 1867 he issued the publication Hejmdal. He was sentenced to pay a fine after having insulted the Prussian state in one of his articles.[2] In 1871 he came into contact with H. F. V. Brix, and through Brix he became acquainted to Louis Pio. The three began organizing a socialist movement.[3] The trio founded the publication Socialisten ('The Socialist') in July 1871. In October the same year they founded a Danish branch of the First International.[4]

The organization supported a bricklayers strike and had called for a meeting to mobilize support. In response, the authorities banned the organization and all its meetings.[4] All three were arrested in the summer of 1872. Geleff was sentenced to three years forced labour. Geleff had also been accused of fraud, but after re-paying the amount he was accused of having embezzled those charges were dropped. Geleff wrote a book about his prison ordeals, Under Laas og Lukke ("Under lock and key") was published in 1876. After his release from jail, he and Pio again begun organizing socialist activities.[3] In 1876 he was one of the founders of the Social Democratic Party.[5] In March 1877 Geleff and Pio emigrated to the United States, with financial assistance from the Danish police.[3][4] Their intention was to set up a colony in America.[6] After settling down in America, Geleff and Pio broke their contacts. Geleff wrote a short publication about his trans-Atlanic travel and split with Pio, Den rene, skære Sandhed om Louis Pio og mig selv ("The pure truth about Louis Pio and myself") published in 1877.[3]

Geleff occasionally wrote articles for Den Danske Pioneer, published from Omaha in Nebraska. Geleff played a crucial role in formulating the radical agenda of the newspaper.[7]

Geleff returned to Denmark in 1920, and lived as a pensioner with support from the Social Democratic Party.[2] Geleff died in 1928.[5] He was buried on Capri.[8]


  1. ^ a b Dansk biografisk Lexikon / V. Bind. Faaborg - Gersdorff / 588
  2. ^ a b Geleff, Paul
  3. ^ a b c d Dansk biografisk Lexikon / V. Bind. Faaborg - Gersdorff / 589
  4. ^ a b c Paterson, William E., and Alastair H. Thomas. Social Democratic Parties in Western Europe. London: Croom Helm, 1978. p. 235
  5. ^ a b Karl Marx / Friedrich Engels: Werke, Artikel, Entwrfe, Mai 1875 bis Mai 1883. p. 1387
  6. ^ Marzolf, Marion Tuttle. The Danish-Language Press in America. New York: Arno Press, 1979. pp. 37-38
  7. ^ Brøndal, Jørn. Ethnic Leadership and Midwestern Politics: Scandinavian Americans and the Progressive Movement in Wisconsin, 1890-1914. Northfield, Minn: Norwegian-American Historical Association, 2004. p. 91
  8. ^ Matvejević, Predrag, and Michael Henry Heim. Mediterranean: A Cultural Landscape. Berkeley [u.a.]: Univ. of California Press, 1999. p. 216