Munch-Nielsen was born to a Protestant family in a small Danish
fishing village, Snekkersten. He was only 14 when German troops
occupied Denmark in 1940. Preben soon became a courier in the Danish
resistance movement, and when the Nazis began hunting down the Danish
Jews in October 1943, he like so many other Danes decided to
and again he risked his life by hiding Jewish refugees in churches and
houses near the shore. He led them to fishing boats which took them
across the sea to neutral Sweden and safety. Preben Munch-Nielsen
himself had to take refuge in Sweden in November 1943. He returned to
Denmark in May 1945.
alive today, Preben Munch-Nielsen is a successful Danish businessman
who was honored for his wartime heroics by President Bill Clinton in
an interview with Lesley Pearl, The Jewish Bulletin of Northern
California, in 1995 he emphasized
that the Danish Jews were considered neighbors, friends, schoolmates
and nothing else.
is our history. We have no scapegoats. No pogroms. No Holocaust. It's
so simple," Munch-Nielsen said. "We didn't recognize Jews as
Jews, but as Danes," he added. "They were victims of an
insane movement created by lunatics," Preben Munch-Nielsen said.
"If you wanted to retain your self-respect, you did what you
Dyby, former policeman, actively participated in the Danish
resistance to the German occupation of Denmark. A strong sense of
decency and compassion caused him to risk his life to aid Jewish
victims of the Nazi Holocaust that engulfed Europe from 1939-1945.
his connections with fishing boat skippers, he arranged for the
secretive transport of Jews to safety in Sweden and showed great
courage in assisting Jewish families.
conveyed to Swedish safety over thirty Allied airmen downed behind
enemy lines, and saboteurs, Baltic refugees and others fleeing the
Nazis were smuggled across the narrow body of water between Denmark
and Sweden. Knud Dyby alone was responsible for as much as eighty
percent of the information that reached Sweden from Denmark in the
last months of 1944 and the first three months of 1945.
the war, Knud Dyby emigrated from Denmark, ultimately settling in the
San Francisco Bay area.
efforts to assist Danish Jews in escaping to Sweden has been
recognized by numerous Jewish organizations. On November 9, 1999, he
was honored again by the Los Angeles Simon
Wiesenthal Center for his humanitarian efforts during WW II.