A National Effort
In class on Tuesday we briefly touched on some of the amazing ways Jews managed to escape the Nazis. Denmark did an fascinating job of organizing a movement which allowed almost all of Danish Jews to survive. Once we discussed this in class I was curious on how Denmark pulled off this large-scale operation. How did they manage to get so many Jews out of Denmark so quickly? How did they even know it was time to get them out?
To understand the answer to these questions it’s important to know what was happening to Denmark during the time. According to Spielvogel the “Danish government was allowed to keep control of the government and public institutions in return for its cooperation with German military and civil officials,” but in 1943 “the Nazis eliminated the Danish government and took direct control” (1). Therefore, the Jews needed to leave Denmark for their own safety.
On September 28, 1943 a “German diplomat, secretly informed the Danish resistance that the Nazis were planning to deport the Danish Jews” (2). In response the Danes began organizing a national movement to get the Jews out of Denmark. In order to get the Jews to neutral Sweden “fishermen helped ferry some 7,200 Danish Jews and 680 non-Jewish family members to safety across the narrow body of water separating Denmark from Sweden.” The photo, displayed here, shows one of the boats the Jewish were put on. It’s important to point out that not all Jews made it, as “almost 500 Danish Jews were deported” (2). Despite this, Denmark managed to save thousands of people and become “the only occupied country that actively resisted the Nazi regime’s attempts to deport its Jewish citizens” (2).
- Jackson J. Spielvogel and David Redles, Hitler and Nazi Germany: A History Seventh Edition (New Jersey: Pearson Education, 2014), 222
- United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, “Rescue in Denmark,” November 4, 2015, http://www.ushmm.org/outreach/en/article.php?ModuleId=10007740, paragraph 3