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Senast uppdaterad: 2023-07-07

Listen to Södertälje

Listen to Södertälje is an audio production by Södertälje municipality. The episodes contain interesting history and funny stories about Södertälje. The podcast can be found where podcasts are found. Responsible publisher is Jonas Karlsson, Business Administration Department.

Here are all episodes of Listen to Södertälje

Episode 1 - The story of "Tälje tokar" expand_less expand_more

The first episode of Listen to Södertälje – a story about 'Tälje Tokar' (Södertälje Simpletons), the term that has become synonymous with the residents of Södertälje. Listen here on the page or read for yourself, you can find the text if you click on the button labeled Read text episode 1.

Read text episode 1 expand_less expand_more

Gotham in the UK. Mols in Denmark. Bemböle in Finland.

And Södertälje in Sweden.


In many, if not most, countries there seems to be a town or community where the inhabitants have historically been considered... a bit odd.

Slightly different.


A little... crazy.


We see it in the Netherlands, in Greece, in Poland – indeed, in every country on the continent.

Germany is even said to have several ‘crazy towns’.


But how is it that Södertälje became Sweden's crazy town – that Tälje Tokar, meaning Södertälje Simpletonsbecame an accepted, albeit joking, synonym for the city's inhabitants?


The stories often describe the follies of the fools in a similar way – regardless of the country or city in question.


Sometimes they try to grow salt in the fields.

Other times they build houses without windows, and try to catch the sun in sacks.

They hide the church bells in the lake when war threatens.

Then they make marks on the boat so that they can find the bells again when peace comes.


So why did Södertälje become the Swedish home of the fools?

Geography, is the simple answer.


Södertälje is at the crossroads of several major thoroughfares, both by land and sea. Throughout history, people have often travelled through the city on their way to or from Stockholm.


Kings and queens, soldiers and missionaries have passed, rested, stuck, queued and waited in Södertälje – critically observing the local population, as tourists often do.


But geography isn’t the whole story.

The stories of Tälje Tokar go back a long way, as does the history of the town.


In July 1719 Södertälje was burned by Russian troops ravaging the east coast.

It would take almost a hundred years for the city to recover – but a few years after the Russian devastation, Carl Linnaeus passed through the city, referring to it as a 'little spot'. He found the city barely habitable.


The old hospital – today better known as the old girls' school on Orion Hill – also added to the city's crazy reputation.

In the late 18th century, it served as a hospital for the southern parts of the county.

Patients were free to move around the city.


So were the pets of the people of Tälje.

The pigs were let out to forage on the city streets on their own – no doubt causing some travellers to wrinkle their noses in disgust.


But the animal theme doesn't stop there.

When Carl Michael Bellman published Fredman's songs in 1791, the song about the Magistrate in Tälje was included – where the ruling gentlemen were portrayed as pigs.


Tälje Tokar is in many ways an echo of Södertälje's long, often difficult but always exciting history.


The concept is culture, a part of the city's soul, a distinct character and personality.

Something to be proud of.


After all, not many cities – apart from Stockholm – have had a song by Bellman dedicated to them.


And when it all comes down to it, part of the explanation for the term is probably in the name itself.


Tälje Tokar.

It sounds really good.


Bellman probably thought so too.

Avsnitt 2 - The Legend of the Shot at the Church Weather Vane expand_less expand_more

The second episode of Listen to Södertälje – the story of the shot at the church weather vane, the legend whose 'evidence' still lives on today. Listen here on the page or read for yourself, you can find the text if you click on the button labeled Read text episode 2.

Read text episode 2 expand_less expand_more

St. Ragnhild's church, dating from the 12th century, is home to many stories.

One of them is the legend of The shot at the church weather vane.


In the summer of 1719, the Swedish east coast is ravaged by Russians.

In an attempt to force the Swedish king to sign a peace treaty, the Russian Tsar – Peter the Great – has sent his war fleet across the Baltic Sea.


When the Swedish king delays his signature, the tsar deploys terror tactics.


Russian soldiers and Cossacks steal, pillage and burn everything they come across along the east coast.

The destruction is enormous. Thousands of castles, farms and crofts are burned.

And Sweden has little – if anything – to oppose such force.


On 21 July, it is Södertälje's turn.

In the morning, a man comes riding through Järnatullen, the city's southern entrance. He arrives in a hurry, with his breath in gasps, but still manages to shout: “The Russians are coming ashore right now!”


Unfortunately, the evil news is true.

About a hundred Russian Cossacks have disembarked with horses at Brandalsund, a little over ten kilometres to the south, and are now on their way to Södertälje.


The Cossacks waste no time. They ride at full speed – and at the same moment that the dull sound of the horses' hooves begins to echo in the outskirts of the city, they light their torches.

Soon the whole of Tälje is in flames.


Defence and resistance are futile for the city's citizens.

There is no help to be had from the Carolines – the forces of the Swedish crown. They have been positioned on the eastern side of the canal, to guard the road towards Stockholm.

The capital must be defended at all costs.


In the devastating glow of the flames – and to the sound of increasing chaos and terror – the Cossacks on horseback charge through Södertälje, along the road that the residents today call Storgatan.

Arriving at Stora torget and the church, they make a halt, before the council house is also set on fire.


According to legend, the people of Tälje gather in the square and pray for the survival of their church.

The Cossack army laughs at their prayers, but nevertheless promise to spare the church – if only someone can hit the church weather vane, with a single shot.


Every legend needs its hero.

So Tälje's sharpest shooter is quickly brought to the scene – and succeeds in putting a bullet right in the centre of the weather vane.


The city is almost destroyed. But the church is saved.

Because the Cossacks keep their promise – they ride back to Brandalsund, and head south. the story of The shot at the church weather vane true?

Probably not. There’s little evidence for it. The Russian Tsar's order to his forces was to burn everything they saw – but to avoid battle and spare the population.

And churches were absolutely not to be touched; anyone who violated the ban was severely punished.


It is also not certain that the current church weather vane even existed in 1719.

Because when Saint Ragnhild's church was devastated by fire in 1881, the church tower collapsed.

And most likely, a new weather vane was erected when the church was rebuilt.


So what is true and what is legend?

No one knows for sure – except possibly the glorious church weather vane, who still watches over St. Ragnhild's church today, with an intriguing little bullet hole in his round belly.

Episode 3 - Down in the Dark Depths of Vattgruvan expand_less expand_more

The third episode of Listen to Södertälje – a story about the mythical Vattgruvan, the old mine which still harbors secrets to this day. Listen here on the page or read for yourself, you can find the text if you click on the button labeled Read text episode 3.

Read text episode 3 expand_less expand_more

Sala Silvermine. The copper mine in Falun. Malmberget in Gällivare.

Swedish mines easily bring to mind the Bergslagen mining region.

But once upon a time, iron ore was actually mined in several places around Sörmland.

Not least in Järna.


Just south-west of the town is the Vattgruvsmossen nature reserve, a largely untouched woodland – full of bogs, mine holes and damp caves.

Iron ore was extracted here as early as the 17th century, among other things from the Vattgruvan mine.


During the middle of the 19th century, Vattgruvan was the main mining site for iron ore in Sörmland – and around the mine, a vibrant community grew up, with access to everything needed for mining.


But in the small mining village there were also pigsties, barns, farms and housing for the workers.

At most, up to 100 people lived and worked here.

They performed incomprehensibly dangerous work down in the darkness of the mine hole, among soot and suffocating moisture – work that also meant poor pay.


Around 1860, the iron ore in Vattgruvan ran out.

The 107 metre deep mine shaft was abandoned. The ore mining moved, as did the people in the once vibrant mining village.


When the pumps stopped working, the mine hole quickly filled with water.

And what was left down there in the depths remained a secret.

Because Vattgruvan stood full of water for over 100 years – abandoned and pitch black, with centuries of memories hidden, and perhaps forgotten, somewhere down there in the depths.


But as you know, nothing lasts forever.

A new age would come – with new forces that sought answers in the depths of Vattgruvan.


Södertälje police, mid-1980s. The phone is ringing off the hook.

A rumour has taken off. A voice on the other end of the line says that the city's criminals have dumped both weapons and crime victims out in the Järna forests.

More specifically in the depths of Vattgruvan.


The police are initially sceptical.

But as more and more tips come in, the thought arises:

Maybe something is hiding at the bottom of Vattgruvan?


To find out the truth, diver Sven Nahlin is hired, for a 107 metre journey straight down into the underground.

And he does indeed make quite a few finds: some scrap metal, some bicycles, the occasional insurance fraud – but no weapons or crime victims.


The operation ends.

But Sven Nahlin has got a taste for the job.

He decides to empty the mine of water – in order to be able to reveal with certainty what secrets are hidden at the bottom.


A major undertaking is underway.

In the autumn of 1985, tons of equipment are dragged into the forests of the nature reserve.

The last weekend in October has been declared "mining weekend" – the public flocks to it.

Radio and TV crews are on site – and buses with visitors run a shuttle service from Järna out to the mine shaft.


It really is a huge party.

But the effort ends in fiasco.

Despite thousands of working hours, they only get down 45 metres.

The rest of Vattgruvan remains water-filled.


In the following year, however, another attempt is made.

And just before midnight on 27 September – when nearly 20 million litres of water have been pumped up – Vattgruvan is finally dry.


Champagne corks fly in the air.

But no stolen goods – or hidden crime victims – are ever found.


So the very next day – Sunday 28 September 1986 – the pumps are switched off.

And four months later, Vattgruvan's depths are once again hidden in pitch-black forest water.

Episode 4 - Secrets of the Russian Tunnel expand_less expand_more

The fourth episode of Listen to Södertälje – the story of how the well-known Russian Tunnel came into existence and how it actually got its name. Listen here on the page or read for yourself, you can find the text if you click on the button labeled Read text episode 4.

Read text episode 4 expand_less expand_more

At the southernmost tip of Lake Malmsjön lies the mouth of the mythical Russian tunnel – dark, alluring and mysterious in the middle of the lush greenery.

As if it were the entrance to the hall of the mountain king.


Over the years, it has attracted generations of thrill-seeking Södertälje boys to underground explorations – that tunnel, which according to legend was dug by Russian prisoners of war in the early 1800s.


But where is the boundary between story and myth?

What is true – and what is fairy tale?


Much of the history of the Russian tunnel is shrouded in mystery.

It was probably built sometime in the 1830s – but not by Russian prisoners.


Instead, it was one of the country's richest men, as well as one of the major landowners around Södertälje, who made sure that the tunnel became a reality.


In the mid-1800s, privy councillor Nils Dufva owned Hanstavik and Lina farm, down by Linaviken – a large farm with a number of mills, which periodically required more water than the small stream that ran through the grounds could supply.


So the water supply was a recurring headache for Mr. Dufva.

But in the hope of a convenient solution, he had begun to look towards nearby lake Malmsjön.


Two to three kilometres away.

50 metres above sea level.

Just under a square kilometre of surface – and seven metres deep.

In every conceivable way, a suitable water reservoir, Dufva decided.


Because it would probably be possible to lead water from the lake to the farm.

If only there was a tunnel...


200 years earlier, the same train of thought had almost ended in disaster.


Lina farm's then owner – Gustav II Adolf's court pharmacist Caspar Kenig – has seen the potential of Lake Malmsjön, and embarked on a tunnel project all the way to the farm.


But one important detail is forgotten in the course of work.


A sluice gate is never built – so when the tunnel is finished, the water gushes out and drowns the land south of the lake.


The tunnel is destroyed. The fiasco is complete.


When Nils Dufva repeats the experiment two centuries later, the preparations are better.

The best muscle power the country can muster arrives to order: a team of strong workmen from Dalarna.


Together they dig the 300-metre-long tunnel, with a vault of large stones and floors of wood, through Enhörnaåsen's sand and gravel – from the southern tip of Lake Malmsjön, down to the stream a hundred metres from Enhörnavägen.


On the river up by Lake Malmsjön, a sluice gate is being constructed, which will enable Dufva and the servants on the farm to regulate the flow of water in the tunnel.


The water supply is secured.

Clever Dufva has thus managed to avoid a flood similar to the one a certain pharmacist once caused.


Today, the Russian Tunnel is best known as an ancient monument marked with a rune on local maps and information signs and a fantasy-provoking historical memory.


For safety reasons, the tunnel mouth at Malmsjön is blocked with a robust iron grille.

The risk of collapse is simply too great, for those who have the courage to visit the underground Hall of the Mountain King.


But many Södertälje residents – mostly boys probably – no doubt still remember how as youngsters they could embark on long journeys of discovery into the Russian tunnel.


Crawling on sore knees, they could – not so long ago – travel a good distance into the slippery and damp, but oh so exciting and forbidden darkness.

Episode 5 - No. 91 Karlsson's Enhörna expand_less expand_more

The fifth episode of Listen to Södertälje – a story about Sweden's favorite soldier and his creator, Rudolf Petersson. Listen to Södertälje is an audio production by Södertälje Municipality. Listen here on the page or read for yourself, you can find the text if you click on the button labeled Read text episode 5.

Read text episode 5 expand_less expand_more

You probably already know No. 91 Karlsson.

Or Almond Karlsson, as his real name is – the innocent soldier doing military service at Klackamo regiment.

The one who’s sweet on lovely Elvira, competes with evil No. 87 Axelsson – who does everything he can to avoid sweeping and peeling potatoes.


No. 91 saw the light of day for the first time in the summer of 1932, in the magazine Allt för alla (Everything for everyone).

Then it was without speech bubbles and in rhyming snippets.


But the No. 91 we are used to seeing – with his remarkable ability to always draw the longest straw – was developed in Enhörna.

It was here he spent his youth, you might say.


Because this is where his creator, Rudolf Petersson, lived with his wife Asta.

Here stood the drawing board where the ideas were covered in ink, where all No. 91's labours and troubles became reality.


Rudolf Petersson was a talented caricaturist even as a young man.

During his military service at I16 in Halmstad, he came across many of the characters who would eventually give both appearance and character to the cast of the No. 91 series:

officers with names such as Corporal Revär, Major Morgonkröök and Colonel Gyllenskalp (Corporal Stripe, Major Hangover and Colonel Goldenscalp).


After completing his studies at Valand art school in Gothenburg – and a ten-year adventure in the United States as a reportage artist at the Cleveland News in Ohio – Rudolf and his wife Asta returned to Sweden in 1931.


As the first Swedish original cartoon, No. 91 was an instant success.

The character's friendly approach struck a chord with the Swedish national soul, and readers took him to heart.


But Rudolf Petersson was a sensitive type – anxious and a bit shy of people.

He had documented difficulties with social contacts, which – without great success – he tried to cure with alcohol.


For Rudolf to have peace and quiet at work, the couple moved away from Stockholm's night life.

In the summer of 1941 they bought Andersberg, a red house with white trim far out in the countryside in Ytterenhörna.


There, Rudolf Petersson quickly became a local profile.

He participated in life in the countryside as far as his health permitted, and rejoiced that the people in the area showed respect and left him alone.


He worked in the morning, when his mind was fresh and his imagination newly awakened.

And he often tested his ideas for stories on his wife – because if Asta laughed, Rudolf knew it would work on the readers too.


When No. 91 became a separate magazine, in 1956, the workload began to be too heavy.

When Asta passed away three years later, Rudolf began to leave parts of the drawing to others.


Since 1970, Rudolf Petersson has been buried in the cemetery at Ytterenhörna church.

But his creation, No. 91 Karlsson, lives on – not least at the local museum in Överenhörna, where a number of original drawings are preserved.


Since Rudolf's death, No. 91 has had over 20 different cartoonists, and he is still visible every week in All Year Round (Året Runt) – as decent as always, dressed in his crumpled blue uniform.


Between 1946 and 1977, no less than eight films were made about No. 91.

His statue has stood on Storgatan in Halmstad since 1993 – and even today a Christmas album about Almond Karlsson's antics is released every year.


No. 91 has turned 91 – but he is undeniably still going strong.

Episode 6 - The Ballad of Badhotellet expand_less expand_more

The sixth episode of Listen to Södertälje – the story of Södertälje's most beautiful building, whose history is as intriguing as its architecture. Listen here on the page or read for yourself, you can find the text if you click on the button labeled Read text episode 6.

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Grand. Magnificent. Incomparable.

The vault above the main entrance has seen thousands of people come and go – for over 100 years.

The squat roof domes exude a continental flair, evoking scent memories of sun-warmed alleys and burnt clay by the Mediterranean.


Badhotellet is one of Södertälje's best-loved buildings – but beneath the elegant beauty of the facade lurks an exciting history.


In the middle of the 19th century, bathing is the hottest thing in Europe.


And when world-famous chemist Jöns Jacob Berzelius classifies the water in Tore källa as "one of the cleanest spring waters you could hope to encounter", it’s the start of true resort fever in Södertälje too.


An impressive bathhouse is built – and a bathing park with a seasonal orchestra is constructed in the middle of town.


The resort’s success is soon established.

Tourism is booming and bathers are pouring in.

The new idyll offers everything the elite from the capital appreciate: healthy water, leafy walking paths, a modern bathing park – and an assembly rooms to socialise with like-minded people.


Stockholmers enjoy no longer having to travel to Marstrand, Mölle or Loka brunn for excellent spring water – and the very richest will soon start building their own summer villas in the town.


At the same time, the need for new hotels and guesthouses is growing.


During the last years of the 19th century, the seaside resort era is at its absolute peak.

In the same year – 1899 – the eye-catching confection of delicate carpentry, balconies, bay windows and glass verandas was built on Järnagatan.


Badhotellet sees the light of day – and it won't be long before the lounges and the large dining room on the hotel's lower floor are filled with scents, clinking glasses, music, cigar smoke and the murmur of conversation.


But the years pass and the world changes.

Seriousness enters the scene.

During the 20th century, world wars succeed each other, and the carefree seaside resort in Södertälje increasingly fades into a memory from a bygone era.


Badhotellet changes its name to Hotel Bristol – a "Bad Hotel" isn’t appealing now the English language now dominates the world stage.


The 1970s meant the end of the hotel movement.

The soul leaves Järnagatan, and the rooms are converted into municipal offices.

After a few years, the restaurant also goes bankrupt and there follows a whirlwind of changes of ownership, poor finances, tax debts, alcohol thefts and suspiciously started fires.


Everything goes so far that, one day in the 1980s, the restaurateur places his own obituary in the newspaper – in an unsuccessful attempt to get some respite from debts and misery.


Hotel Bristol becomes Jacob Oscar.

And eventually Madame Tussaud.


Red plush wallpaper is suspected to be the cure for the curse of failure, but not even a large disco ball on the ceiling succeeds in turning the tide and bringing prosperity to the establishment.


Everything fails.

The once beautiful building sinks deeper and deeper into its abandoned misery – until one day in 1994, when the municipality of Södertälje makes a heroic effort and saves Badhotellet, which is by then balancing on the edge of the abyss.


Times have changed since the seaside resort's glory days.

But even today, the magic of continental flair shimmers around one of the country's most expressive buildings.


A few years ago, against competition such as Stockholm City Hall, Dramaten and the University Library in Lund, Badhotellet was voted Sweden's 29th most beautiful building.


Not bad for Tälje's own little cream cake, which now offers office sharing and houses a medical centre instead of long-distance bathing fans.


Oh, and the red plush wallpaper and the disco ball are long gone, by the way!

Episode 7 - Oaxen - The Mysterious Island expand_less expand_more

The seventh episode of Listen to Södertälje – a story about an island with peculiar nature, which has provided the area with a limestone quarry and a luxury restaurant. Listen here on the page or read for yourself, you can find the text if you click on the button labeled Read text episode 7.

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It lies off Mörkö, in the middle of Himmerfjärden, at the entrance to Södertälje.

The island.

As an obstacle in the middle of the fairway, with its strange environment reminiscent of Gotland.


Orchids and other unusual plants thrive here.

Here, breathtaking sea views combine with a spectacular limestone quarry, 35 metres deep and now filled with fresh water.

A legacy, a memory, from years of quarrying.


Perhaps the... impractical location has contributed to the name of the island.

Ohagsön. Obehagsön – Discomfort island, in Swedish.

Or, in short, Oaxen.


For as long as anyone can remember, Oaxen – like most of Mörkö – has belonged to the well-known landowner family Bonde, who have their seat at Hörningsholm castle.


For century after century, the history books tell of Oaxen as an uninhabited island with fine pastures for game and domestic animals.


But beneath the lush fields and lands lurks a secret – an invaluable natural resource – which, when discovered and refined, will change the view of the island forever.


In the mid-19th century, construction in Sweden has developed and is beginning to be industrialised.

The demand for material is high. There is a desperate need for cement and mortar, which is largely made from quicklime – crushed limestone that has been heated up to 1,100 hellish degrees in a huge kiln.


Happily for the Bonde family, all of Oaxen, and its sister island Karta, consist of limestone rock.


Limestone quarrying on the island takes off when Baron Knut Bonde on Fållnäs leases the land from his relatives on Mörkö, and starts the company Karta & Oaxens Kalkbruk.

But when the Baron suddenly dies shortly afterwards, his wife, Florence Bonde, is forced to take over the business.


Fortunately, Florence turns out to have an excellent head for business.

The Baroness runs the lime quarry with great success, developing it into a major industry – and when she eventually passes away, in 1900, Florence Bonde is a wealthy woman.


In line with the success of the lime industry, Oaxen turns into an island full of life.


The large limestone quarry in the middle of the island – Kroksbrottet – is created.

And nine large, roaring lime kilns are fired up.


A community emerges – with housing for the workers, a school, an estate manager's villa and, eventually, a shop.


In 1974, the last salvo is fired in the lime quarry.

The site is shut down – and life on the island changes once again. Oaxen becomes a place mainly for summer homes, and for the occasional sailor in search of a safe harbour for the night.


But everything seems to go in cycles.

In recent years, the island in the middle of Himmerfjärden has been given new life.


From 1994 to 2013, the restaurateur couple Magnus Ek and Agneta Green ran Oaxen Skärgårdskrog in the old manager's villa – before the business moved to Djurgården in Stockholm, but kept its name.


The restaurant became a phenomenon, a landmark that attracted guests from far and wide – and in 2007 it took an impressive 39th place among the world's best restaurants.


A food experience worth a trip, as it is often called.


Fine dining is all very well – but of the nine roaring lime kilns, which once formed the heart and pulse of the island, today only one remains.


Ettan's lime kiln still towers as a modest memorial over the island – a reminder to modern visitors of Oaxen's history.

Episode 8 - The Beheaded Mayor expand_less expand_more

The eighth episode of Listen to Södertälje – the story of Zacharias Anthelius and how his secret led to a public execution. Listen here on the page or read for yourself, you can find the text if you click on the button labeled Read text episode 8.

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The canal park.

This is still the name of the small park in front of the Catholic Church, next to the Mälar Bridge.

But the site now has another official name.

Zacharias Anthelius park.


Zacharias Anthelius – who’s that?


We have to travel all the way back to the 17th century to meet him.

More precisely, to 1623 – the time when King Gustav II Adolf had just founded Norrtälje, and the city, which had previously only been called Tälje, became Södertälje.


Times are uncertain in 17th century Sweden.

Sigismund, the Catholic King of Poland, has been deposed as King of Sweden – but it is rumoured that he will try to regain the Swedish crown.


The Swedish army gathers its forces in Södertälje, at the time an insignificant and neglected town.


The people of Tälje complain and are a thorn in the side of the Crown.

To put an end to the people's lamentations, the King and Chancellor Axel Oxenstierna give the city something that isn’t available anywhere else in the country.

A royal, well-educated mayor.

Zacharias Anthelius.


Mr Anthelius is a skilled official, perhaps even overqualified for the job.

He quickly gets to work trying to solve the city's problems.


To help Södertälje get back on its feet, he applies for tax relief from the Crown.

But his most important task is to draw up proposals for new city privileges – something that will allow Södertälje's burghers to trade and make a living without encroaching on Stockholm's interests and income.


Because the King and Chancellor would never accept that.


Anthelius has a lot to do. Around Easter 1624, a parliament is to be held in Stockholm, and the mayor is intended to be one of Södertälje's delegates.

But then a huge scandal breaks out. A secret is revealed that turns everything upside down.


Queen Maria Eleonora's Italian lute player, Veraldi, reveals that Zacharias Anthelius is – secretly – a Catholic.


In strictly Lutheran Sweden – and with the imminent threat of the Catholic Sigismund in Poland – Anthelius's crime is of the worst kind.

Together with a group of other conspirators suspected of trying to poison King Gustav Adolf, Zacharias Anthelius is accused of high treason.


Now that the veil has fallen, no method is excluded.

Anthelius and his co-accused are put on trial – and tortured – in search of the truth.


Neither high treason nor poisoning plans can be proven, but Catholicism is bad enough.

Zacharias Anthelius and his friends are sentenced to death.


Saturday 11 September 1624.

The mayor of Södertälje, Zacharias Anthelius, is taken with his friend Jöran Bähr, also a secret Catholic, the short distance from the dungeon at Stockholm Castle to Stortorget.


The whole of Stockholm is there to witness the spectacle.

In the middle of the heated crowd in the square, a scaffold rises – where the executioner waits with his newly sharpened sword.


Twice the executioner raises his sword. Two heads are separated from their bodies.

But unlike many other executed prisoners, Anthelius and his companion avoid having their severed heads impaled on stakes.

They are instead buried on Riddarholmen, next to the old Franciscan monastery.


For Södertälje, the scandal is embarrassing.

But soon the name Zacharias Anthelius will be all but forgotten.

And so it would remain – until, almost 400 years after his death, a park was named after him.

Episode 9 -The Kringle Girls from Kringle Town expand_less expand_more

The ninth episode of Listen to Södertälje – a story about Anna Carolina Grewesmühl and how Södertälje became synonymous with kringles. Listen here on the page or read for yourself, you can find the text if you click on the button labeled Read text episode 9.

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Kringles! Here be kringles!

Here be authentic Södertälje kringles!


In the mid-19th century, women who needed to support their families on their own sold baked goods – ginger biscuits and kringles – in the streets.


In Södertälje, the phenomenon lasted long enough to become a symbol of the city.

Södertälje, known for its kringles – and its kringle girls.


The year is 1836.

Dalarna girl Anna Carolina Berglund is new in town – and a little nervous.

She has just moved to Södertälje and taken a job with a family on a large farm.


The work is going well, but Anna Carolina feels her cheeks heat up and her heart rate increase every time she meets the eyes of the son of the family, Bernhard Ludwig Grewesmühl.


The young people take a liking to each other. They marry and have four children – but despite being her heart's desire, her husband turns out to be a complete failure.


Anna Carolina may have married up in the world, but with such a no-good husband, she realises that supporting the family will fall on her shoulders.


She picks through the coins at the bottom of her leather wallet, rolls up her sleeves and decides to make a bet – on kringles.


And the time is perfect, as it turns out.


Anna Carolina Grewesmühl was far from the only kringle baker in Södertälje at this time, but she was more skilful and better at marketing than most.


And she had her own tricks to keep her place as the city's number one.


In the fog of flour dust and the heat of the burning baking ovens, Anna Carolina herself – with razor-sharp precision – weighed and measured every gram and every millilitre of the top-secret kringle ingredients.


But when it came to selling, the clever kringle girls took over the show.


Dressed in a headscarf and apron, and with a wicker basket swinging on their forearm, they sold freshly baked kringles at the city's railway stations and locks.


Over time, Södertälje kringles became so popular that they were exported abroad, sold to fine ladies in Stockholm – and at markets in other parts of Sweden.


Kringle baking continued in the city well into the 1950s.

But by then the world had started to change, with new travel habits and taste preferences.


Time had caught up with Södertälje's simple signature pastry.


Until the very end, kringles were sold at Södertälje Södra railway station, but usually by kringle boys – instead of the somewhat pushy kringle girls of the past.


One of the most successful kringle boys was Rickard Fagerlund, the legendary chairman of the Ice Hockey Federation. He once described how, as a boy, he used to ride his bike down to the station early in the morning to sell kringles to travellers on passing military trains.


Often Rickard and his kringle companions would pretend to fumble with the coins, so the train would leave before they could give the change.


Today, the kringle is still a strong symbol in Södertälje.


As a logo for a large number of associations and companies, on signs and souvenirs – and as the name of a department store in the city centre.


And what may be the world's oldest kringle is preserved in the Torekällberget Museum.

It was baked in the 1890s – and still looks perfectly edible today.

Episode 10 - S/S Ejdern - The Primadonna of the Waves expand_less expand_more

The tenth episode of Listen to Södertälje – the story of perhaps Södertälje's oldest but equally beautiful lady, the steamship Ejdern. Listen here on the page or read for yourself, you can find the text if you click on the button labeled Read text episode 10.

Read text episode 10 expand_less expand_more

Attraction, movie star and world champion. All in one.

The steamship Ejdern is a classic beauty, an obvious adornment of Södertälje's cityscape.


She’s a floating miracle – the world's oldest coal-fired propeller-powered steamship with an original steam engine.


Her exciting life story begins in 1880 among the shipyards in Gothenburg.

At birth, S/S Ejdern is a screw steamer – in her childhood she operates in the amazing archipelago of the West Coast, like a kind of sophisticated summer ferry between the islands.


Let’s fast forward to 1906 – a new century.

The Ejder has turned 25.

On the other side of the country, money has changed hands, and soon a letter will arrive stating that little Ejdern has been transferred to Södertälje Ångslups AB.


She will become a freighter – a very honourable mission.


For many years after, Ejdern transports goods from Södertälje out to Mörkö, and pulls heavy barges over the waves of Björkfjärden on Mälaren.


From 1914, Captain Fredmark is her permanent companion and commander – first as an employee of the Ångslupsbolaget company, and later as owner.


The years go by and Ejdern works hard — she loves to be the centre of attention.


In her free time, she moonlights as an extra in television series and films, including in future classics such as Hemsöborna (The People of Hemsö) and Kejsaren av Portugallien (The Emperor of Portugallia).


But time makes its mark even on a steamer.


When, in 1958, Captain Fredmark in 1958 transfers her to Södertälje, Ejdern is in a sad state.

But she’s still lively for her age, and she does another summer with swimming school children out at Havsbadet, before being berthed and leased out as a cafe boat with waffles on the menu.


But when the Maren Bridge is due to be built in 1962, Ejdern can no longer remain at her comfortable berth.


Her former glory is now a thing of the past. She has been vandalised and is a sorry sight.


But Södertälje doesn’t want to spend money on renovating an old steamer, and Ejdern soon begins to realise that her days are numbered.


Torekällberget open air museum is offered the boat, but declines – and on 1 October 1963 the Port Authority decides that Ejdern will have her last resting place in the dark depths of the sea, on the bottom off the island of Landsort.


But rescue comes at the last moment.


On the day that the death sentence is formally signed, port captain Gert Ekström buys Ejdern for 150 kronor, and has her towed into Stockholm.


And it’s now that the miracle will happen: Ejdern will finally regain her lust for life.


The year is 1964.

A band of enthusiasts struggle to restore Ejdern to her original condition — a star of the waves, a first class beauty!


With great reverence, they succeed in recreating her appearance around the year 1900.

She is honoured with a restored wheelhouse and aft saloon – and her heart, the quiet coal-fired machine that propels her forward, is reinstalled.


She is now operated by a group of dedicated enthusiasts in Museiföreningen Ångfartyget Ejdern, who keep her in good condition.


A lady of Ejdern's age requires the odd beauty treatment at regular intervals.


Ejdern has a place in the hearts of many Södertälje residents.


And it always feels good when even today – laden with tourists or a wedding party – she sets out from her berth at Borgmästarudden and chugs out onto Mälaren.