Sonja Berg von Linde was a legal practitioner who became director of the Swedish prison and probation service, within which she also served as head of a division. She also served as secretary of Fredrika-Bremer-Förbundet.
Sonja Berg von Linde was born in Höja congregation in 1919. She was the daughter of Gösta (Gustaf) Berg von Linde, mayor of Ängelholm, and her mother was Doris Berg von Linde, née Broberg. Sonja Berg von Linde’s sister Märta was born in 1923.
Sonja Berg von Linde was a professionally active woman who held many important posts. In 1942, then 23 years old, she gained her Bachelor of Laws at Lund university and then performed her notarial service in Ängelholm. An obituary printed in the Helsingborgs Dagblad on 13 September 2006 states that during 1944 Sonja Berg von Linde held the post of mayor of Ängelholm. On completing her notarial service she worked as a legal practitioner for the municipal authorities from 1947 until 1955.
Sonja Berg von Linde married Erik Montén, who had a licentiate in zoology, in September 1943. This was during her time working as notary in Södra Åsbo and Bjäre district court. In 1944 the couple had a son named Ivar and their daughter Eva was born in 1948. The couple divorced in 1963.
Between the years of 1957 and 1961 Sonja Berg von Linde served as secretary for Fredrika-Bremer-Förbundet. One of the issues she actively campaigned for, along with representatives of several other women’s organisations, was the cause of female priests within the Swedish Church, part of the wider campaign for women’s rights to all professions. During the 1962–1963 period Sonja Berg von Linde was the chief administrative officer of Fångvårdsstyrelsen (now Kriminalvården) and subsequently was appointed the agency’s director from 1964–1966. The following year, 1967, Sonja Berg von Linde was appointed department principal administrative officer of Kriminalvårdsstyrelsen, and she again served in this position in 1970.
Sonja Berg von Linde became director of the women’s prison department and head of the Hinseberg facility, a post she held from 1968 to 1969. On 4 June 1969 the Dagens Nyheter newspaper reported that she was the acting director of the women’s division and institutional head of Hinseberg women’s prison, at the time the only women’s prison in Sweden. Newspaper reports reveal that at the time of Sonja Berg von Linde’s appointment overcrowding was a serious problem at Hinseberg. As per a report in Dagens Nyheter, on 8 April 1969, first-time offenders were mixed in with repeat offenders. Sonja Berg von Linde stated that the situation was not yet catastrophic but the fact that prisoners did not have their own space and were instead crowded in together was a problem. Further she expressed favour for a humane form of imprisonment where time spent at Hinseberg should allow prisoners time for reflection rather than simply being punished in a place where first-time offenders were conditioned to remain criminal.
When her time in that post ended Sonja Berg von Linde then became administrative director of Riksdagens förvaltningskontor (now Riksdagsförvaltningen, Swedish Parliament administration), from 1971 until 1980, where she subsequently served as department head from 1981–1984. According to the aforenoted Helsingborgs Dagblad obituary of 13 April 2006 Sonja Berg von Linde became the first woman to be appointed in that capacity. However, this has not been confirmed elsewhere. Sonja Berg von Linde finished her professional career by serving as department head of Riksdagens förvaltninskontor (now Riksdagsförvaltningen). Sonja Berg von Linde also held other posts throughout her career including secretary on the prison services’ work organisation from 1964–1968. She also served as a member of European Centre for Parliamentary Research and Documentation (ECPRD) from 1981–1984.
Sonja Berg von Linde was also an active trade unionist and a member of the Jusek board from 1979–1983. She had already joined the union before that, however, as indicated by the appearance of her name in protocols of Riksdagens förvaltningsstyrelse (administration board) on which she represented SACO/SR. During her spare time she was deputy chair of the Swedish Genealogical Association from 1973–1987.
Sonja Berg von Linde died in Lund 2006 aged 87. She is buried at Svalöv’s old cemetery. The aforenoted obituary published in Helsingborgs Dagblad listed her children and their families along with her life companion Märta Gabrielsson as her chief mourners.